When I went to the initial reveal of this car, the engineers said that one of the main reasons to do it was for track use. (A regular Solstice wouldn't be eligible to participate in many track events because oftentimes convertibles are not allowed.) Now that I've driven a Solstice coupe, I can see it as a track toy, but for any other driving, the roadster would certainly be preferable.
Even compared to the Audi TT coupe I drove the day before, the outward visibility in this car is so compromised that this Solstice achieves a new dimension of claustrophobia. The lift-off top is too big to fit in the cargo area, so it can't be removed once you've left home. (A build-it-yourself soft targa top, like those in the original Dodge Viper, can be stashed in back.) The interior feels even more cramped than it really is because the swoopy design makes no concession to storage space.
On the plus side, the turbo engine certainly goes like hell, but the powertrain sounds gritty and coarse. I can't really speak to the handling after my straight shot down I-94, but if it only matches that of the roadster, that would be very good indeed.
After going through all the trouble to create this rear-wheel-drive platform, it's too bad General Motors hasn't done anything more with it, beyond the Solstice/Sky twins, and now this hardtop version. A slightly larger variant - perhaps something along the lines of the very cool Chevy Nomad show car of several years ago - would have expanded the audience for this nimble, fun-to-drive platform. But given GM's dire financial straits, I'm afraid we've seen all that we ever going to out of this chassis.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor