With the Firebird's almost six-year absence and the GTO's two-year absence, Pontiac has been hurting for a performance rear-wheel drive V-8 model. There was great speculation as to what would replace the GTO after its departure following the '06 model year, but a clear answer was never given. The all-new G8 isn't specifically targeted as the '04-'06 Goat heir apparent; Pontiac's actually thinking on a much larger scale.
The answer to Internet gossip and media hype officially came at the '07 Chicago Auto Show. This unveiling was foreshadowed by teasing videos of a partially lifted car cover, artist renderings, and statements from the General. Now the only question was whether the vehicle could handle the heavy crown it would soon brandish.
The 361 hp on tap tends to...
The 361 hp on tap tends to demolish the tires. We found it easy to do so with our Liquid Red test car (with the traction control off).
Early this year, after several postponements, the Pontiac G8 and G8 GT went on sale, as the shipment from Elizabeth, South Australia, hit U.S. soil. Based on the Holden Commodore and the Zeta Platform, this performance sedan is a look into the future. We'll keep our fingers crossed that some variant of a two-door coupe makes it into Pontiac showrooms, but what has already been given to us is simply outstanding.
Not too many Pontiac diehards associate performance with four doors, aside from the recent GXP and GTP Grand Prixs. Sure, there are plenty of ber-Euro performance saloons available, but at a hefty price. The only other noteworthy U.S. competitor for such a concept is the Dodge Charger. On paper, the two cars are certainly comparable in cargo volumes, interior space, and target market. Sadly for Dodge, the G8 trounces the Charger in performance. As a matter of fact, this new muscle sedan is right on the heels of the BMW 550i, which still costs around $20,000 more than a well-equipped G8.
This car has the optional...
This car has the optional sport metallic pedals, as well as the leather-wrapped Sport steering wheel. Every inch of the interior is covered with fine leather or nicely texturized plastics. The door levers, however, seem like they were made from a plastic mold, and feel cheap. Little things such as incorporating the parking brake into the console, and the user-friendly steering wheel controls make for a pleasant stay inside the cabin.
As stated in "G8 GT First Drive" (Aug. '08), the Pontiac "Darts" are targeting some of the finest cars on the road. This isn't new, but there has never been this much substance to back it up.
From a stylistic standpoint, the G8 hits the nail on the head with a big hammer. As you gaze at it head-on, the most dominant feature is the surreal fender flares. They appear to have been sculpted with a most sinister shape in mind. Accented by hoodscoops and fender vents, this new Pontiac screams performance at every curve. Great care was also taken to keep body panel gaps to a minimum-a welcome new concept. This creates the illusion that you're looking at a high-dollar car crafted for a persnickety driving enthusiast who has never worn a blue collar in his adult life.
But something you wouldn't expect to see is the Pontiac Arrowhead ("Dart" in Pontiac-speak) between the split-grilles and a price tag below $30,000. As far as four-door performance sedans go, one wouldn't be too brash to assume this new vehicle is Pontiac's greatest accomplishment.
Inside, there's very little to gripe about. Our test car had the optional premium package, including heated, six-way driver and passenger seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather seating surfaces. The fit and finish is clean and the steering wheel feels very solid.
The main complaint here is the cheap-feeling dash controls and the blood-red glowing oil life and battery gauge in the center of the dash. There's no way to adjust the brightness, which was a distraction at night. Depending on your seating position, it also reflects onto the windshield, making it twice as annoying. We hope to see a navigation option soon since it's currently available on the Holden Commodore and uses the same large, multi-color screen seen in the G8.