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2006 Pontiac Solstice Design and Interior

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Solstice is a modern, American update of the classic roadster ethic – a seductive form ruled by careful attention to proportion. The design is inspired by the romantic era of sports cars, which began in the years after World War II and culminated in the mid-Sixties.

A long hood – to cover the longitudinally mounted rear-wheel drive powertrain – and a short rear deck are hallmarks of a true sports car and Solstice’s design accents those traits with wide 18-inch wheels and tires that are pushed to the vehicle’s corners. The tires have a minimal gap between the fenders, while the face of the tires matches the width of the fender edges. These detailed features give the Solstice a low, aggressive stance.

The Solstice’s short overhangs are complemented by clean body sides and minimal front or rear protrusions, for a pure, uninterrupted form. A dual-port grille, wide fog lamps (optional) and five-spoke wheels are signature Pontiac styling cues. The headlamps are prominent and have a premium, jewel-like appearance, as do the taillamps. The taillamps wrap around the side of the body and have a unique reflector that creates the side marker lamps within the same housing.

“Solstice’s smooth, pure design exemplifies Pontiac ’s brand character,” said Clay Dean, design director. “The clean lines and perfect stance are reinforced with a classic proportion that everyone identifies as a true sports car.”

The seductive curves of the Solstice are drawn together with taut lines and a high belt line, giving occupants a feeling of being in the vehicle rather than on it. Indeed, elements, from the sweep of the front fenders to the curves of the instrument panel, are designed to make the driver feel one with the Solstice.

An integrated appearance is achieved whether the top is lowered – as it is intended – or raised. When lowered, a body-color inset blends seamlessly between in the interior and exterior. The top lowers behind the seats in a separate, fully enclosed compartment – there is no visible convertible top “stack.” Integrated fairings behind the seat headrests contribute to the vehicle’s sporty look and are a nod to racing sports cars of the past.

The top is manually operated. When it is raised, it has a sculptured look that wraps around the headrest fairings. A rear-window defogger is standard.

The design of the Solstice matches the original 2002 concept vehicle almost perfectly, as the use of advanced, sheet metal hydroforming for the hood, door panels, deck lid and rear quarter panels allowed the complex-curved forms to be reproduced almost exactly (see Solstice Sheet Metal Hydroforming section). The production model also retains the forward-opening clamshell hood of the concept. The deck lid is rear-hinged to accept the folding top. When the top is raised, the cargo area offers 3.8 cubic feet (107.6 liters) of storage space.

To reinforce the Solstice’s refined feel, the exterior design also was fine-tuned in the wind tunnel. The outside mirrors, for example, vary from the concept vehicle, but are shaped to reduce wind noise.

Minimalist interior

The interior design emphasizes a back-to-basics, driver-focused theme. This philosophy is reflected in the prominent and purposeful motorcycle-inspired gauges, as well as an overall cockpit layout with controls canted toward the driver. The instrument panel carries minimal controls. Power locks and power windows are packaged with the available Power Package.

But while carrying a minimalist style, the Solstice is nonetheless well equipped and comfortable. It offers generous shoulder room (52.4 in. / 1332 mm) and legroom (42.7 in. / 1085 mm), creating a more comfortable driving environment for taller drivers. Racing-inspired bucket seats are standard and are designed with bolsters that firmly support the driver and passenger during cornering. The seats also feature clever storage pockets. Leather-covered seating is available.

The steering wheel is thick and the diameter is optimized for performance driving; it also has adjustable rake. The shifter for the standard five-speed manual transmission is leather-covered and was carefully calibrated to deliver smooth, precise and quick shifts. Engineers optimized the placement of the shifter, as well as the “just right” feel to the length and weight of the gear throws.

Additional interior features include a standard AM/FM stereo with CD player and six speakers. Air conditioning, an MP3-capable audio system, a premium Monsoon audio system, OnStar and XM Satellite Radio are available. Cruise control, a driver information center and front fog lamps are available as part of the Convenience Package.

To speed the process of taking Solstice from concept to production, engineers cleverly used proven, existing components for some interior elements, which reduced cost and time. For example, the HVAC control module was borrowed from the all-new Hummer H3, the seat frames are from the Opel Corsa (with new trim) and some latches and buttons are from the Chevy Corvette. Although the parts come from multiple sources, the design neatly integrates the overall appearance so that every component looks like it belongs in the car.