Giddy, excited, eager, awakened, inspired. There arenít many things that
will make a mid-30s man spew adjectives like these. Winning the lottery
and finding the perfect bargain on eBay are a few examples but not much
else. These are just a few of those little wonders of this adult life
that make it all seem worthwhile. That is, until you get behind the
wheel of a sports car of top caliber.
We got such a chance
when the wonderful guys from GM dropped off a six-speed manual,
400-horsepower beast known as GTO. The first time we drove a new Goat,
way back in 2004, it had an automatic and was quite docile around town,
but punch the throttle and go full-bore to the next stoplight and you
remember what this car is designed for.
This one, however, was
like riding a bull - hang on and donít let go because the landing might
hurt. Bad. Donít get the wrong idea here, the Goat was not difficult to
drive, it just took total concentration when driven hard and fast. With
400 lb.-ft. of torque under your right foot, itís easy to get ahead of
yourself, thank GM for giving the Goat traction control to keep things
from getting really ugly.
Speaking of ugly, we
were quite disappointed with the longish shifter throws of the Tremec
T56 manual. We really expected something a little easier to toss. And
getting the GTO into reverse was a chore because of the right-handed
nature of the reverse positioning. (Remember, this car was designed and
built in Australia, where they drive on the left like the English and
Luckily, the controls
and pedals were in perfect position, or so it seemed; everything felt
like it was where God had intended it to be, like the switchgear was
easy to find and the pedals worked magnificently. In all, actually
driving a new Goat is a wonderful experience.
The interior looked
like a more thought-out design that could have really tuned the Firebird
and Camaro into high-class cars rather than the brutish Neanderthals
they eventually turned into. We also liked the gauges with white letters
on a red background, very sporty and easy to read.
Also sporty were the
front buckets, covered in nice leather, of course. The bolstering could
have been backed off a bit, it was pretty tight, but thatís what kept us
from sliding out of place during spirited driving. HVAC controls were
tight and notchy, not what youíd expect on an over-30k car with high
pretenses. But fit and finish overall was stellar. The leather-wrapped
steering wheel and shifter knob also give the interior a polished look
that makes driving hard that much more enjoyable.
And, much to our
surprise, a bass guitar (in its case) and Crate twin-speaker amplifier
fit in the backseat, which we had to use because the trunk is
practically non-existent on the Goat. You can fit a couple of duffels
but not much else, let alone some guitar equipment.
Speaking of driving, we
took a ďleisurelyĒ drive through most of our test loop and found
ourselves behind a BMW 3-Series convertible. Lucky for us, the Bimmer
driver was out to drive as well. We kept pace with the Bimmer until we
finally got out onto a two-lane divided highway. The Bimmer driver tried
to keep up, but once we hit third, we outpaced the wheezing BMW and kept
going until we hit our turnoff.
With the LS2 Corvette
engine filling the underhood area, the GTO basically goes like stink.
Weíre talking 0-60 in about five seconds Ö less if youíre an experienced
driver good at launching a beast such as this, which we tried to be but
with a heavy clutch (for us) it proved difficult, but totally fun.
One of our biggest
gripes about the GTO is having to pay for a manual transmission. It
should be a no-cost option in such a performance-oriented vehicle. And
it should be standard, like in almost every car out there that has a
manual tranny. But enough about the gripes, so few they are.
On a positive note in
this day of high gas prices, our trip computer estimated 18 miles per
gallon in everyday driving, mixing city and highway routes during our
daily commute. On a jaunt to the nearby tourist trap, we drove 60
highway miles and the trip computer gave us an average of 21.3 mpg. Not
bad for a Corvette motor stuffed into an Australian coupe. At least the
Goat isnít hit with the gas guzzler tax.
Lastly, since they are
minor indeed, the changes for 2006 include redesigned taillamps with
clear lenses and black background and a couple new color choices; Fusion
Orange with orange stitching on steering wheel, shifter, seats and on
the doors and Spice Red Metallic. Other than that, itís pretty much the
same car that debuted in 2004.
Believe it or not,
just like in í04, all this power and performance comes at a small price:
almost $34k, as tested. For that price, you get the 6.0-liter LS2 V8
(from the Vette); four-wheel independent suspension; disc brakes all
around with four-channel ABS and traction control; leather seats (the
fronts have eight-way power adjustment); a nifty driver information
center (where we got our mileage readings and other pertinent info);
hood scoops and rear spoiler. The extra-charge items were the six-speed
manual ($695) and destination ($700).
James E Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Pontiac Home Page
content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
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2006 Pontiac GTO
Column Name: The Goat Grows Some Nostrils And Gets More Attitude
Topic: The 2006 Pontiac GTO
Word Count: 976
Photo Caption: The 2006 Pontiac GTO
Photo Credits: Pontiac Internet Media
Series #: 2006 - 27
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2006 Pontiac GTO