Harsh Reality: The Solstice GXP meets the roadster benchmark. BY DAVE VANDERWERP, October 2006 There’s no better way to see how the Solstice GXP stacks up than to throw it at the purest-driving roadster on the market, the Porsche Boxster. In the past decade, it’s chalked-up seven 10Best awards and won four comparison tests. One problem: Porsche couldn’t produce a test car, so we turned to the owners’ community for help. Stelios Dokianakis, an audiologist from Pittsburgh, graciously agreed to let us rough up his Boxster and drove it to Michigan on just a day’s notice. If you’re willing to subject your 240-hp Boxster to a high-rpm clutch drop and ride out the ensuing axle hop, it’ll reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.3. But the 260-hp Solstice was a tick quicker at 5.6 and 14.2 seconds, even though its brawny midrange makes it feel even stronger. Above 110 mph, however, the Boxster’s superior aerodynamics (0.29 coefficient of drag compared with 0.45) allow it to pull away, and it reaches 130 mph 2.6 seconds earlier. Those aerodynamics also allow the Boxster to attain a calm, collected 158-mph top speed. The Solstice will go 142 mph, but it’s not pretty. Be prepared for serious hood fluttering and an ear-pummeling racket from the flapping top. However, at legal speeds on the highway slog out to GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, the Solstice was admirably muted with the top up and, at 73 dBA at 70 mph, registered 3 dBA quieter than the Boxster. Also notable is the way the Solstice locks onto its lane; the Porsche is more prone to wander. Around the 11 turns and 1.88 miles of GingerMan asphalt, the precise-driving Porsche was clearly our favorite. Every millimeter of steering wheel and brake movement is accounted for and produces the expected response. Weight is transferred smoothly as the Boxster turns in obediently and hangs on neutrally, pulling 0.91 g on the skidpad versus the Solstice’s 0.85 g. But the Boxster doesn’t produce a ton of torque, so keep the revs up. That’s not a chore, in case you haven’t heard the 86 dBA of pure joy exhaled from the Boxster’s 2.7-liter flat-six at wide-open throttle. On the other hand, the Solstice covered up mistakes with its torquey turbo and clawed its way to a 1:42.25 lap time, beating the Boxster by 1.40 seconds. It’s sloppier, with pronounced brake dive and more body roll. And the steering lacks the linearity and feel of the Porsche’s. Even though we had to brake earlier — the Solstice required 170 feet to stop from 70 mph versus 158 feet for the Boxster — to prepare for its less-willing turn-in, and the understeer that follows, the Solstice was faster out of every corner, thanks to that midrange punch. What about the huge price difference, you say? Yes, the Boxster starts at $45,795, and the Solstice costs just $25,995, but keep in mind that with its two trunks and more spacious cockpit, the Boxster is a reasonable daily driver, whereas the Solstice is purely a toy. Then consider that our man Dokianakis bought his $53,935 Boxster with just 4000 miles on the clock for 35 grand. In other words, forgo some of that new-car smell, and the superior and more practical Boxster can almost be had on a Solstice GXP budget.