The idea for throwing a V-8
in a Pontiac Solstice
had been swirling around the HOT ROD offices since the car was unveiled, but the real movement came at a meeting in mid-2005 between the GM Performance Division (GMPD) and HOT ROD editorial staff. There it was agreed that HOT ROD would build a bad-ass LS7-powered two-seater Solstice, and GMPD would provide technical guidance to make sure the job was done right. Magazine guys can be ham-fisted at times, so we knew we’d need GMPD’s help to make the car as good as it could be.
HOT ROD is showing how to put a V-8 in a Solstice for many reasons, one of them being that GM balanced the Solstice for the four-cylinder Ecotec engine family—nothing more. But that doesn’t mean a more powerful Solstice can be only handbuilt. This fall, you’ll be able to buy the Solstice GXP, a performance version that will have an impressive 2.0L, 260 hp, 260-lb-ft turbocharged Ecotec engine under the hood and a whole lot more.
While the 2.4L Ecotec that comes in the base Solstice is no slouch at 177 hp, the GXP version is just starting to show the real potential of this engine. The GXP Ecotec is the highest-specific- output engine ever produced by GM—making 2.1 hp per cubic inch of displacement—and the most powerful production Ecotec ever. It is also the first direct-fuel-injection engine offered by GM in North America. Direct injection means each fuel injector sprays the fuel directly into the combustion chamber, right at the piston. This technology is common in diesel engines and some European gasoline engines, but it is relatively new to the U.S. market. The turbo is a dual-scroll design that pumps air into an air-to-air intercooler stuffed in the front of the car for reduced inlet temperatures, making more power. The engine utilizes dual cam phasing to optimize the valve timing for maximum performance at low and high rpm.
The Solstice GXP will be easily recognizable on the street with unique front and rear fasciae and polished dual-exhaust tips. Other features you won’t see but will no doubt be able to feel include GM’s StabiliTrak four-channel electronic stability control and a 3.73:1 rear gear. Options will include a sport suspension, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a limited-slip differential (you’ll want that in order to do good, smoky burnouts!), power windows/locks/mirrors and keyless entry (you can skip these to save weight), 18-inch polished wheels, a rear deck spoiler, sport metallic pedals, and an XM Satellite Radio, among others.
While the Solstice GXP is not yet available, early performance figures released by GM indicate the car will run 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and weigh approximately 2,950 pounds. It won’t run with our V8 car, but that’s pretty fast for a four-banger.