“Oil crisis my ass, let’s make a rear wheel drive car with a 6.0 liter V8.”
-Fake quote from GM chairman Bob Lutz
The G8 is the first in a new trend for Pontiac, selling quality cars. That’s a cheap shot, but they have been seriously lacking in the “driving excitement” category over the years, so it’s about time they put out something for the enthusiast.
And the G8 is definitely an enthusiast’s car. It’s based on the Australian Holden Commodore, which already has a fantastic reputation for its high speed, solid handling, and roomy interior at a reasonable price.
The base model Pontiac G8 has a 3.6L, 256 HP V6, which is nothing to sneeze at; 256 HP is more than capable. But the real reason you’re probably reading this is the Pontiac G8 GT. The GT is serious business, it’s the one with the freaky 6.0 liter 361 HP powerplant under the hood; the one that hits zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds. The GT is, as they put it in their commercial, the most powerful car for under $30k.
Still, I hate the look, I think it’s absolutely hideous. The hood scoops are too far forward and out of place, the tail lights are strangely small, and the decklid has this weird lip that sticks out and just bothers the hell out of me. It almost looks like a Pontiac that tried to metamorphose into an Audi and failed; like it strained itself mid-transformation and had to stop. It just doesn’t look that athletic; and isn’t that what Pontiac’s are all about, athleticism?
And how about the Liquid Red color? Firstly, I hate the name Liquid Red. And Ignition Orange, and White Hot, and Stealth Blue. I hate those names. What ever happened to Tobacco or Jet Black? Those were real color names. Names aside, the red is a shade of bright ugly, and although it’s not really a criticism of the car, it has to be said. I mean, it looks like a prostitutes fingernails. So I have to get that out in the open, since we’re all thinking it. Now we can move on without that obvious and disruptive fact looming over us.
But here’s the thing, despite all the generic ugly, I think I love it. Ugly is the reason I love the Taurus SHO; it has that boring look but still hauls ass. It’s nothing spectacular, no wacky styling or big valance or spoiler, it’s just an ugly Pontiac that will go very, very fast. It has that sleeper appeal.
In 2009, it gets even better; the GT will get a big brother, the GXP, which will feature a 6.2 L 402 hp V8, similar to the one in the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette. And, it’ll have what Pontiac should have offered on the GT, a 6-speed manual transmission.
I really don’t see how Pontiac can fail with the G8. The only other big, rear-wheel-drive, performance sedan available anywhere near the G8’s price level is the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300. And the G8 is aiming at a much higher class than that; it’s being marketed as a low priced alternative to the BMW 5 series, and it’s pulling it off. This really isn’t just big motor with room in the back for woofers. This is for real, it’s a quality car. Australians know this already, and in the coming year, I think all the other car makers in the US are going to have to up their game a bit. All we’re hearing is economic doom and gloom about the automotive markets, but this is a chance for the best to shine, and the dead weight to fall off. GM is looking good from here.