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.
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.
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.
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.