Car Review: It
takes years to develop a new model. How can a manufacturer know what the
future holds when they are looking from so far away? The G8 is a
powerful, even amazing car from GM, but in todayís world, it may be a
little late for the party.
To give the G8 its due,
itís fun to drive, thatís true. A generously proportioned mid sized
sedan, it is agile, despite weighing nearly two tons, thanks to its
fully independent performance tuned suspension. You can feel a lively
vibration through the steering wheel that reminded me of a BMWís -
surely Pontiacís leaders would not dispute that comparison. The steering
itself is direct and tight, with a variable rack-and-pinion mechanism.
The real big story,
though, is that this is GMís first use of its new rear-wheel-drive
platform in the U.S. Like the Holden model that itís based on, the G8 is
built in Elizabeth, Australia. The engine in my car was sourced from
Mexico, and there is 13 percent U.S. and Canadian content. GM is
reaching across its worldwide network to configure cars for each region
and this seemed like a good fit for them at the time.
Although you might not
notice it, the perfect symmetry of the interior, with the window
controls in the center console rather than the doors, is a tip-off.
Australians drive on the left so their dashboards feature a steering
wheel on the right, and this layout allows minimal changes to move it
over for us.
The standard G8 is
probably quite lively with its 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 256 horsepower
through a five-speed automatic, but I can only guess that. I tested the
GT model, with a 6.0-liter V8, which, with 361 willing horses under the
hood and six-speed automatic, gives the GT superior potency. Actually,
it is the most powerful sedan available in this country with a base
price just under $30,000.
could cross shop this car with something much more expensive, like a 5
Series BMW or other upscale sedan. For power, and even driving
amusement, it might even beat the Germans. However, the quality of the
materials and assembly is only OK, not stellar. I noticed uneven panel
gaps in the cockpit, and the surfaces felt cheap to me. The glove box
seemed flimsy. But of course, after two days of blasting around town and
down the interstate I no longer saw that.
The interior on my
Sport Red Metallic test car was black on black, with silvery plastic
accents. An Oakland Raiders fan would feel right at home. Only the
Pontiac logo on the steering wheel and a ring at the base of the
transmission lever gleamed in chrome. The steering wheel felt a little
offset to the left to me, and I was amused by the parking brake lever
that was integrated into the center console with a dummy version on the
The EPA gives the G8 GT
fuel economy ratings of 15 City, 24 Highway. My mixed driving for a week
produced 15 mpg, so I think the EPAís test took place on a day with a
good tailwind. At this writing in mid January 2009, gas prices have
dropped down to about $2.00 a gallon for regular, but still, 15 mpg is
pretty unsatisfactory. The EPA Green Vehicle Guide numbers are 6 for Air
Pollution and only 4 for Greenhouse Gas. This car would likely never
make it onto a Sierra Club memberís list.
Even the base car gets
a good setup of safety, performance and comfort, from six airbags to
four-wheel disc brakes with ABS to free XM Satellite Radio and OnStar.
My GT model tester included an 11-speaker Blaupunkt audio system at no
additional charge, 18-inch aluminum wheels and nice little dual exhausts
with stainless steel tips.
It also featured an
optional Premium Package, which for $1,250, added leather seats heated,
with six-way power, and a leather shift knob. In all, my tester, with
destination charges, came to $32,760. Base price for the V6-powered base
model is $27,595 plus a $685 destination charge.
Big news for later this
model year is the even more potent GXP, with a 6.2-liter V8 that
conjures up more than 400 horsepower. This is definitely for the
enthusiast, preferably one who also owns an oil well.
So, why buy a potent,
but gas-guzzling car like this today? Well, because itís fun to drive,
and despite conservative styling, in red it looks pretty impressive. The
price undercuts about everyone in the powerful sedan category - and itís
like a Corvette for five. Itís also a bit nostalgic, looking back at an
earlier day of cheap gas and guilt-free motoring.
By Steve Schaefer
© AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Car Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Pontiac Home Page
Column Name: The G8 is
like a Corvette for five
Topic: The 2009 Pontiac
Word Count: 854
Photo Caption: The
2009 Pontiac G8
Photo Credits: Pontiac
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Series #: 2009 - 12
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2009 Pontiac G8
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2009 Pontiac G8