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October 8, 2008 > Auto Review: Pontiac G8

Auto Review: Pontiac G8

Pontiac has produced a new 4-door sedan for the 2008 model year, and my only question is, "Why did they wait so long?" The new G8 is great! This car should help Pontiac compete against the upper mid-range imports.

The G8 comes in 2 models that share everything except the drive train. The first uses a 256 HP, 3.6-liter V-6. On the assembly line they slip a huge, 6-liter V-8 under the hood of the GT model. This baby is ready to deliver 361 HP and 385 foot pounds of torque to the rear wheels when you put your right foot down. The best part is that the GT starts at $29,995; 361 HP for $30K - what a deal! The G8 GT really feels like a late 60's muscle car.

Of course, if you want all those 361 horses to run at full gallop, it will take some energy (in the form of regular unleaded gas). Actually, the V-8 did pretty well in its EPA testing, delivering 15 city mpg and 24 highway mpg which is good for a big motor. The V-6 engine produced 17/25 in its tests.

For the 2009 model year, Pontiac adds a third model, the GXP. It gets a 6.2-liter that develops 402 HP and 402 foot pounds of torque and requires premium unleaded fuel. The GXP's base transmission is a 6-speed automatic but you can opt for a 6-speed manual if you want one. Brembo brakes and leather seats are standard on the GXP.

So how did my wife and I like the G8 GT we had for a week? When I brought it home, my wife thought it was a Lexus at first glance; it looks that good. It has an aggressively styled front end but doesn't go overboard.

The interior is very well laid out and the fit and finish is great. Front seats are very comfortable and hold you well. The instruments and controls are well laid out and easy to use. It is truly a five passenger car and three adults can spend many comfortable hours in the back.

I did have one small complaint however. The "Passenger Airbag Off" sign was in red lettering in the right corner of the interior rearview mirror. Almost every time I looked into the mirror and saw the red light, I thought one of California's finest was tailing me with his/her light bar ablaze! Please Mr. Pontiac, don't put red lights in the mirror.

From a handling standpoint, the G8 GT probably won't keep up with some of its German competitors, especially on uneven roads. Its four-wheel independent suspension is very smooth but just too soft for very aggressive driving on really twisty roads. Its handling is fine for most everyday driving, but bumpy, sharp turns cause its handling to deteriorate and you need to slow down. The four-wheel vented disc brakes (with ABS) do a very good job of stopping this beast.

As I said, the GT starts at $29,995 with the base G8 starting at $27,595. The base G8 uses a 5-speed manual transmission. The GT adds a limited slip differential and uses a very nicely done 6-speed automatic. The GT has a very short option list. $600 gets larger wheels with summer performance tires and $1,250 more adds leather, heated, power front seats and other small items.

Pontiac has hit a home run with the G8 model line, and they should sell well.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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