Archive | August, 2009

Short Take- 2009 Pontiac G8 GT

In my lifetime Pontiac has never come out with a car that automotive journalists have compared to a BMW, until now. When the G8 came out, the automotive community instantly starting making comparisons to the BMW 5 series.  In the beginning of 2008 when the G8 started showing up in dealerships enthusiasts knew exactly what it was and bought them quick. Now fast forward to mid 2009 and Pontiac is being killed off as part of GM’s restructuring.  According to GM the G8 is following Pontiac into the grave and the enthusiasts are crying. Now to get to why they are crying.

2009 G8 GT

2009 G8 GT

The G8 is based on the Zeta rear wheel drive platform from Australia.  This is a slightly modified version of the platform the new Camaro rides on.  The G8 has a great stance that looks as if it hugs the ground.  The exterior is instantly recognizable as a Pontiac with the dart in between the grills.  The hood scoops are non functional on the GT. With that said, the scoops work for the look of this car.  The low beam headlights are projectors with tint surrounding the lights.  The overall front end is menacing.  The rear of the G8 GT has different tail lights than the plain jane G8 with a more intricate design.  The GT that I tested had a sport package. This gave the exterior 19 inch machine faced aluminum wheels which looked great.  Also included in the sport package was summer tires, sport steering wheel, and aluminum pedals.

Gauge Cluster G8 GT

Gauge Cluster G8 GT

The interior of the G8 is good.  The interior is not the best the GM has developed, but it is a not a bad place to spend your time behind the wheel.  This car originally comes from the Australian arm of GM, Holden.  To keep costs down, GM made the car in a way that allowed as little as possible to be changed going from right hand drive to left hand drive for North America.  Keeping that in mind, certain things are not where we would normally expect them in a GM car.

Window Switches/Mirror Controls G8 GT

Window Switches/Mirror Controls G8 GT

The window switches and mirror adjustment controls are on the center console by the cup holders.  This made it easy for any country the car would be made for.  The radio is Blaupunkt branded which is not something you see everyday.  The stereo sounds good with decent highs and pounding lows.  The LCD in the center stack is not a touch screen and is used to display radio and climate control settings.  There is no navigation option on this car other than OnStar.  In the late 2009 models bluetooth was an option, though the car is not being built anymore so you would have to make sure to check the build sheet on remaining cars.  The trunk release button is somewhat inconvenient since it is in the glove box.  The G8 I was in had the premium package which gave it a leather steering wheel, leather covered shift knob, and leather seats.  The leather seats are heated for those in the snow belt states.

The interior is not what this car is about and neither is the exterior.  This is a drivers car.  It is not every day that you can take a four door full size sedan and say it handles like a sports car.  This also is significant because it is everyday livable.  This would be a fun and comfortable daily driver while you could go outside the city on the weekend to back country roads and toss the car into a corner all while smiling.  The G8 GT has a 6.0L V8 producing 361 horsepower rocketing the four door full size sedan 0-60 in 5.3 seconds.  These numbers are true sports car territory which is exactly what the G8 GT is.  I was happily surprised with the 6 speed automatic.  I truly thought an automatic would hinder the car.  The transmission has three different modes.  While in drive the transmission will upshift and optimize for best fuel economy.  If you slide the shifter into the manual gate it will put the transmission into sport mode. This optimizes shift points instead of optimizing fuel economy.  The third option is the manual shift gate and push the shifter for manual shifts.  I am satisfied with the shifter in sport mode.  The transmission knew when I was going full out and held right to redline before shifting.

The G8 GT is the right car in the wrong time.  Had this car come out a few years ago before gas prices sky rocketed and the economy came crashing down things could have turned out differently.  Unfortunately that was not the hand we were dealt and thus the G8 GT will fade away after this year.

As I mentioned on Twitter the day I was at The GM product and technology event, I did have a conversation with Bob Lutz about the demise of the G8.  Mr. Lutz informed me about the backlash GM was hearing with the demise of the G8 from enthusiasts and their opinions were not falling on deaf ears.  While nothing is set in stone, he did say the G8 could be a Chevrolet.  The car would be a high end model with big brakes, big motor, a modern four door Corvette.  Though it would not be a Corvette model, it would have the essence of the Corvette in a four door sedan.  Time will tell what comes of that.  Until then, if you are in the market for a four door family sedan that is truly a drivers car, the G8 GT is a true value at a sticker price of $31,755 with a big V8 and stump pulling power.

Back to School

As the fall approaches, students are heading back to school.  For those students who have a car, now is a good time for a refresher on basic maintenance.  Here are some highlights for both parents and students.

DIpstick

Dipstick

Make sure your student knows where the dipstick is located to check the oil level.  Also make sure your student knows what type of oil is correct for their vehicle.  You should consult your owners manual to see which oil is specified.  It is important to understand how many miles between oil changes is appropriate for their vehicle.  I recommend changing the oil after 5,000 miles when running fully synthetic oil, and 3,000 miles when running regular oil.

Tire Pressure Sticker

Tire Pressure Sticker

You should also show your student how to fill up the tire pressure and make sure they understand they should check this regularly.  Once the season changes the air pressure in your tires will change dramatically.  When it gets cold you need to adjust accordingly.  For every 10 degrees your car will lose 1 psi per tire.  You should fill your tires based on the posted suggestion on the car not the tire.  You can usually find the suggested tire pressure on the car either on the gas flap, the inside of the drivers door, or the glove box.

b_2005261-150x1501Something many people do not think about is windshield washer fluid.  You should always make sure your windshield washer fluid is full, especially before going on a road trip.  In the winter, depending on the climate, you will want to make sure you get a de-icer.  A de-icer resists freezing in the colder climates.

A survival kit in the trunk is always a good idea.  A basic survival kit should include things like jumper cables, a blanket, a small first aid kit, basic tools, and a flashlight.  Students should also have a snow brush/ice scraper if you are in the snow belt states.

Finally, it is always a good idea to get to know a reputable mechanic or dealership near where the student will be living.

This list covers the essentials that many students are unfamiliar with.

Note:  I would welcome reader input regarding the topics you would like in the future.  Feel free to leave a comments.

GM Product Technology Event

As posted late last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited by GM to an exciting event. The event started with GM showing some of the products and technologies coming in the near future. Pictures were not allowed in the design center.

2010 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

Front and center in the GMC design studio was a design concept, a Denali trim of the Acadia crossover. It had a body kit and larger chrome wheels with the mandatory chrome grill and wood inside. I can see this trim level coming soon and it was rather good looking. Next up was the 2010 Terrain the GMC version of the new 2010 Chevy Equinox. The exterior of the Terrain is better looking in person than it is in pictures. The interior had soft materials and a clean look. Equipped with the four cylinder, the Terrain will achieve 32 mpg on the highway, quite impressive. The most interesting vehicle was a clay model without a name. It looked reminicent of the Kia Soul. It was boxy and short with little to no overhangs and like no other current GMC. Even though is was not bad looking, I do not see it fitting in with the rest of GMC unless the future products are considerably different than the current lineup, which could happen.

2010 Buick Lacrosse

2010 Buick Lacrosse

The center vehicle in the Buick studio was the new 2010 Buick Lacrosse which should be hitting dealerships soon. The new Lacrosse is gorgeous with tight panel gaps and great character lines. It is a car that will be competing with the Lexus ES350, the lines on this Lacrosse are much bolder. The interior has a soft touch dash and has a quality feel. Impressive! I felt the seat tracks looked unfinished. They were completely uncovered and looked as if things could get caught in the tracks. We viewed four other vehicles, two crossovers and two sedans. One of the crossovers was basically a re-badged Saturn Vue which will be launching as a Buick next year, and it will come as the first plug-in hybrid suv in 2011. It was truly unsightly and reminds me of things (re-badging) that was wrong with the “old GM.” The other crossover will launch in 12-16 months as a baby Enclave which itself is a good looking vehicle. The other two vehicles that are coming within the next 10-24 months include a midsize sedan based on the European Opel Insignia. This midsize sedan could very well wear the Regal name. The second vehicle will launch later and will be based on the new the European Opel Astra. They had two interior styling bucks for the two sedans, both of which were as good looking as the new 2010 Lacrosse. Buick seems to have gotten their mojo back in the styling department other then the re-badged Vue.

2010 Chevy Spark

2010 Chevy Spark

The predictable future vehicles, such as the convertible Camaro coming 2nd quarter of next year and the Chevy Spark small car, was there as well. I was surprised to see a next generation Aveo, which happened to be a hatchback. The rear end was practically the same as the current generation while the front end was much more aggressive. The front end reminded me of the current generation Mitsubishi Lancer. The headlights were good looking but not very aerodynamic. The vehicle that caught me off guard was the next generation Malibu. It is drop dead gorgeous! It has a little BMW in the rear end and the front end is straight European design. The exterior was impressive and the interior had three real interior styling bucks. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would never believe it was a Chevy interior. Keep in mind that these were production designs, not concepts. Arriving in 2011 as a 2012, the next Malibu is going to be a winner.

2009 CTS-V

2009 CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS coupe will arrive next spring. It will be accompanied by a CTS-V coupe which, of course, is exciting for any enthusiast. Next the new 2010 SRX and CTS sportwagon, both of which should be arriving in dealerships now. I personally love wagons. After the presentation, I asked the director of Cadillac about the possibility of a CTS-V sportwagon. During our conversation, he informed me that there was a CTS-V sportwagon on campus and it is a shade of black. He also said that “if” a CTS-V sportwagon was to go into production, he would guess it would be in dealerships next summer. I would not say that is a promise but darn closer than “no we have no plans on making one and have not studied it as a business case.” Here’s hoping for a CTS-V sportwagon.

Three new Cadillacs were revealed to us. The first was the sportwagon. The next was a BMW 3 series fighter dubbed ATS, which will come in both coupe and sedan forms. The car is similar looking to a CTS with a more evolved look. I could see the ATS coming with a turbo and naturally aspirated four cylinder as well as direct injection six cylinder engines. The proper wheels (rear wheels) will be receiving the power and all wheel drive will be a option. The last was a car that will compete with the BMW 7 series, dubbed XTS. It will replace the quickly aging STS/DTS sedans. The styling of the XTS is reminiscent of the Cadillac Sixteen concept from years back but without the long hood. Both cars were good looking and have real potential.

Joel Feder & Bob Lutz

Joel Feder & Bob Lutz

I had a conversation with Bob Lutz and questioned him about the future of the now dead Pontiac G8. He informed me that the response to them killing it has been overwhelming, and they are working hard to figure out how to incorporate it in the Chevy lineup in the future. Mentioning how it will die with Pontiac but could be coming back as a Chevy. He went on to say it would have big brakes, a big V8 and quickly adding, no V6 option. This would be an aggressive sports car without a doubt, the four door of Corvettes (no it will not wear the Corvette name). Though he mentioned it would most likely be expensive and probably a niche product, making only enough for demand. My question is when and how much!? I asked about the Caprice name and styling of the Asian market Caprice and he said it was not aggressive enough and would not happen. This conversation was informal and is in no way a final green light for production.

Lastly the Millford proving grounds. I drove the Camaro SS with the 6 speed. First order of business was to turn off the traction control completely. Dropping the clutch and smokey burn outs are easy to accomplish. The car is definitely heavy but carries its weight well through the slalom. While the brakes definitely got toasty and you could smell the burn, they never gave up or made me nervous of losing effectiveness. Had I been on the track longer it could have been a different story. Next the CTS-V with a automatic. I felt this handicapped the cars potential on the track. On the other hand, the automatic shifts quickly and zips around when driving it in the city on a daily basis.

After this event it is safe to say, I can say I feel GM has a real future and great product in the pipeline. The only true questionable vehicle was the re-badged Vue. Two big take aways here are that the G8 may not be dead after all and the CTS-V sportwagon is more then a possibility! I would say Toyota should be put on notice because the next Malibu and new Equinox are truly world cars.

The Invite

GM

We all know GM filed for bankruptcy.  GM is aware they have a problem and it seems they are trying to fix things.  They have a poor reputation tarnished by years of poor products.  They are looking to change that perception as they have changed their products.  Now that they have changed their products to actually be competitive, and they need people to realize it.  Seems traditional marketing/press is not doing a good enough job and GM is looking to have a little help in the social media arena.  They have made huge strides in making a presence on Twitter and Facebook.  They are now holding a event and inviting influential people with a automotive presence on social media to the event.  I was fortunate enough to get a invitation to the event This is the exciting news happening soon.  I will most definitely share what happens and impressions.  See below for the invitation.  I removed some of the details for obvious reasons.

INVITATION: GM Product Technology Event – August 10, 2009


Hello,

Based on recent postings, we know you have an interest in General Motors and appreciate your

candid comments about the company’s situation.

We realize we have a challenge ahead of us to rebuild consumer confidence in our company and our vehicles.  Let me assure you that our new CEO, Fritz Henderson, has put a priority on Customers, Cars and Culture to reinvigorate General Motors.

One opportunity to meet that challenge head-on is to invite people just like you to Detroit, to interact with the new GM management team, get a glimpse of future car designs, and have the opportunity to drive our current vehicle lineup.

This is an invitation to you and a guest to join us as our guests in Southeast Michigan for a one-day program August 10.    Due to the driving portion of the program, both you and your guest must be at least 21 years of age and licensed drivers.

We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to see and drive our latest vehicles, ask questions and provide your thoughts and suggestions.

WELCOME!

Welcome!  This is my blog and I will be mostly posting about cars and automotives in general.  Pretty much anything with a spark plug will work its way into this blog.  I will admit I am sure my non automotive life will spill into this as well as social media and thoughts.  My life pretty much revolves around cars and social media.

Little background on me so you know my credentials.  I graduated last year (2008) from Drake University and majored in marketing.  I am currently the social media intern at Lola Red PR firm in Minneapolis, MN.  While at Drake, I was the car critic for the Times Delphic (school newspaper).  I have run, on the side, a small car detailing business since high school and grew up around boats and cars.  Well I will not bore you with more. Keep your eyes peeled as I will be updating this quite often and hopefully with regularity.  I know I have a VERY exciting opportunity coming in a few days and will share more about that within the next day or two.