Behind the Buzz
THIS MONTH: 2006 Pontiac Solstice
By Lawrence Ulrich

(MONEY Magazine) – • WHAT IT IS A racy American roadster with a $19,995 base price

• THE BUZZ Thousands preordered a Solstice following a summer cameo on The Apprentice. General Motors, never known for featherweight sports cars, claimed that it would take on the mighty Mazda MX-5 Miata ($20,995).

• THE TRUTH The Solstice doesn't top the Miata's performance, but it's still a blast to drive--and it starts at $1,000 less, albeit with fewer standard features. Plus, it looks hot, while the Miata looks...a lot like it always has. In our test drives the redesigned Miata was faster than the Pontiac, and it has a better-finished interior, a smoother manual shifter, an easier-folding top and more cargo space. The Mazda is also 400 pounds lighter, so it's a bit more nimble. Still, the 2,900-pound Solstice offers a more comfortable ride, notably accurate steering and more sheer tire grip in turns. At less than $23,000 well equipped, it's an ideal weekend fun machine.

• BUZZWORTHY? [  ] Absolutely [X] Mostly [  ] Sort of [  ] Nope