There was an audible gasp when General Motors rolled out the Pontiac Solstice concept car during the Detroit auto show, in January 2004 - quickly followed by skeptical sighs. Over the years, the giant automaker has unveiled countless sexy show cars that have never made it into showrooms - or worse, which have been mangled by the production process, like another Pontiac prototype, the Aztek.
General Motors' decision to put the Solstice into production thus generated a mix of excitement and skepticism. Would the automaker retain the show car's over-the-top styling, back-to-basics roadster dynamics, and its promised under-$20,000 price tag?
After a surprisingly short wait, the Solstice is back, this time in production trim. If you've got a pair of calipers, you'll likely find a few minor dimensional changes, but the roadster that TheCarConnection.com got to drive, a few weeks back, is uncannily close to the concept car that first debuted at Detroit 's Cobo Hall.
Kappa, Kappa, Kappa
Getting there was no mean feat. GM engineers had to come up with an all-new platform. Dubbed Kappa, it will serve as the "architecture" for an assortment of other specialty vehicles, such as the upcoming Saturn Sky. The automaker also had to raid its parts bin for pieces the Solstice could share with other GM products in a bid to hold down production costs.
The strategy worked. The 2006 Solstice is visually striking, a blast to drive and comes in moderately well equipped at a base price of just $19,995.
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