By on April 4, 2008

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The first time GM attempted to create a BMW 3-Series fighter, we got the Cadillac Cimarron. After 27 years of trying again (and again and again) to take on the rear-wheel drive driver's car, we've got a rebadged Australian import that goes by the name Pontiac G8. No question: the G8 is a far better automobile than the Cimarron (what modern car isn't?). But it's still no 3-Series. Frankly, it's not clear what it is.

The G8's bodysides couldn't be more purely E46 if they'd been penned in China. Sure, some hood fauxpenings were added at the eleventh hour to provide Pontiac "character." But look at this car a thousand times, and it still won't look like a Pontiac. The sides are too clean, the proportions too slender for Detroit iron. (Or post-Bangle BMW, for that matter.) And as with Chinese knock-offs, such a close copy can't hope to have its own identity.

x08pn_g8020.jpgMany enthusiasts pine for the days when BMW interiors were designed for driving, with solid if unflashy materials, minimalist lines and no gadgetry. Welcome to the cabin of the G8. Someone Down Under appears to have made it their personal mission to squeeze all of the power window, power lock and power mirror controls into a single compact module located on the center console. (As seen previously in the GTO, there's ergonomics, and then there's Aussie ergonomics.) As a result, the front door panels are button-free; you can't get cleaner than that.

x08pn_g8017.jpgOne thing GM didn't copy: the dimensions of an E46. People who've seen the G8 only in photos often think it's the size of a 3-Series, or perhaps a 5-Series. In fact, the G8 falls closest to the regular wheelbase 7. For GM, bigger has always equaled better. What better way to improve on the 3-Series than to add 20 inches of length and a half-foot of width?

Of course, for buyers seeking a roomy sedan the space will be welcome. The comfortably high rear seat cushion can easily transport three adults, and the trunk can swallow everyone's luggage. The entire rear seat does not fold, but the center pass-through provides a larger opening than some folding seats.

When behind the wheel, a relatively high seating position and a driver-oriented design helps the largest Pontiac feel smaller than it is. It doesn't feel like a 3, but it doesn't feel like a Dodge Charger, either. A 5 perhaps. Even some of the world's thickest A-pillars (no room in the budget for high-strength steel?) don't ruin the pistonhead party.

x08pn_g8019.jpgThe G8 GT's rear-drive chassis feels nearly as balanced as a BMW's. The rear end can be smoothly throttle-steered through turns–without the standard stability control killing the joy. There's more kickback through the steering than desirable road feel, but at least there's road feel– something that can be said of fewer and fewer cars in the post-Lexus age. Body control is tight and precise, with very little in the way of ungainly slop.

With such a firm standard suspension, ride comfort isn't a G8 strength, even with the 18-inch tires (even less compliant nineteens are optional). Think 3, with the Sport Package. Hardcore enthusiasts won't mind feeling every bump. But the rest of the driving population? Sell this one to Avis, and renters will complain. Apparently GM has (finally) bought its own hype, and created a Pontiac suitable only for enthusiasts.

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If there's anything American about the G8, it's the GT's 361-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Except this one is more refined than the typical American pushrod V8. This refinement cuts both ways. You won't mistake the L76 for a high-winding DOHC unit, but it doesn't seem out of place in such an otherwise European car. The downside? While the G8 GT is undeniably quick when you plant your right foot, you have to rely on the rapidly rotating needle for this info. It would feel quicker with a more visceral powerplant.

If only the six-speed automatic was a willing partner; it often resists downshifting. The best slushboxes smoothly select the optimal ratio before the driver is aware that he's called for a new gear. This isn't one of those cog swappers.

Aside from making a car larger, GM can also be counted on to make it cheaper. In this case, you get a 7-sized 5-handling 3-looking 361-horsepower sedan for the price of a 1, and a 128i at that.

x08pn_g8023.jpgWhile not clearly a Pontiac, the G8 is clearly a bargain for anyone who's been seeking a super-sized, pushrod-powered, two-ton 3-Series. Unless the 15/24 on the window sticker scares even this crowd, GM will sell all it cares to lose money on. (The Australian dollar near parity with the greenback? Gotta hurt.) With a clearer identity, less spartan interior and more compliant suspension, there'd be less need to rely– in traditional GM fashion–on a low price.

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131 Comments on “2008 Pontiac G8 GT Review...”


  • avatar
    B.C.

    Hell must be freezing over — I want one, and I’m a hardcore Honda fanboy. Make mine a 6-speed manual GXP in cop-magnet-red, please.

  • avatar
    BlindOne

    Too bad they aren’t bringing the car over with a manual this year. Still, the first GM I’ve seen in years that makes me go ‘Hmmmm’ Still think I’ll buy a G35S Sedan, 30 less horses, but Infiniti.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    I’m really glad to see this car from GM. Nice looks, great performance, low price, unique in a crowd. Too bad about the lack of profits, though.

  • avatar

    Why must every f-ing car be compared to the 3-series? What’s next, comparing the Lacrosse Super to the 3-series? They are completely different target markets. This is NOT a 3-series competitor in anything other than price. It’s a Bonneville replacement with real performance cred. It’s a replacement for the RWD Impala SS with actual handling built right in. But above all it is NOT a 3-series competitor any more than the Lacrosse Super, Bonneville GXP, or Mercury Marauder are.

  • avatar
    thalter

    You mention power window controls twice in the center console. I think you meant “power windows and power mirrors” instead.

  • avatar

    thalter :

    You mention power window controls twice in the center console. I think you meant “power windows and power mirrors” instead.

    My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar
    RayH

    I’ll take your word on the balance being close to BMW… that was my biggest fear for this car. I think those who never let go of their pre-03 5 series because they still hate the look of the 5 might take this as a stopgap until the next 5 series. Not everyone buys a BMW for the badge, at least 5 series buyers. Lack of manual hurts.

  • avatar
    John R

    I’m going to have to agree with initially comparing this car to the 3-series. GM has clearly positioned this car against a BMW, the 5-series.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2008/03/31/video-pontiac-g8-embarrasses-bmw-5-series-in-internet-ad/

    Rightfully so, I think. I would have never considered spending my money on a Pontiac…until today.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    The G8 is compared to the 3 Series because in many reviews and enthusiasts’ eyes, the BMW epitomize the essense of what a proper sports should act and perform. BMWs, even the uber 7 Series, are generally praised for their sportiness and fluid performance on the track. However, I don’t think people will be cross-shopping the G8 with the 3, or even the 5 Series…more with the Charger.

  • avatar
    schempe

    Thanks for the review Michael. Very well done. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    why copy someone else’s 1990s design? because it looks good, that’s why.

    i really don’t know what BMW was thinking with the whole bangle thing. if you want to take a niche car like the Z4 and and make it arty or otherwise funky, then fine. to take a bread and butter car like the 3 and do *that* to it? makes me sad.

    i nearly bought a leftover GTO, but i couldn’t get past the lack of styling for the price. i still prefer 2 doors to 4, but the G8 is such a nice design that i may be tempted again. the lack of manual is a deal-breaker, though, so i’ll have to see what the GXP costs. this may be the only thing that could get me back in an big 3 vehicle.

  • avatar

    The G8 is compared to the 3 Series because in many reviews and enthusiasts’ eyes, the BMW epitomize the essense of what a proper sports should act and perform.

    That doesn’t change the laws of physics. Something almost the size of the 7-series is not going to handle like the 3-series. Not even BMW can do that.

  • avatar
    nehoc93

    I’d love to see the V6 with a manual, but it will never happen. It would be kind of like a cheaper CTS with the 3.6L and rwd. Too bad…

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    Of course you’d never be able to sell a Falcon state-side…nosiree…what a stupid thought.

  • avatar

    If it weren’t for the mpgs, I’d be all over this thing. It has the looks, performance, size, and price that are all right in my sweet spot. But I don’t know if I’m willing to pay $1500 or so per year extra in fuel just to satisfy this beast.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I can’t help but feel this is a perfect landing, right airport, but 5 years too late (fuel economy). It’ll probably sell well for its muscle car niche, but I don’t see fuel economy getting any lower on anyone’s radar anytime soon. This would have been a perfect car to help transition people away from unnecessary trucks and SUVs and sell them on the idea of quality, fun cars…a few years ago, when the relative economy improvement would have been substantial.

    But I could be wrong. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. is selling very well DESPITE a massive shift toward health consciousness. Maybe this car is just the Frisco Burger America needs…

  • avatar
    ttac2000

    not everyone buys a BMW for the badge, at least 5 series buyers

    Most of BMW’s target market wouldn’t be caught dead in a Pontiac.

  • avatar

    Aren’t the A-pillars that thick for an airbag? That was a complaint of mine on my ’04 CTS, but I forgave Cadillac for it because it was another airbag.

  • avatar
    creamy

    Oldsmoboi : This is NOT a 3-series competitor in anything other than price.

    Thank you oldsmoboi! This is way too large to be a 3-series fighter. Comparing the G8 to the 3-series is like comparing “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier to Oscar De La Hoya. Sure, they’re both boxers who throw a mean right hook but that’s about the extent of the similarities.

    In fact, even on price these two don’t compete. Try getting a new 300(ish) horsepower 3-series for 30k (then again, try getting a G8 for 30k for awhile whilst the initial flurry of buying activity occurs).

  • avatar

    I mentioned the 3 for two reasons:

    1. It looks just like an E46; that’s no accident.

    2. On multiple board I’ve come across threads where people were discussing this as an alternative to the 3, G35, IS, etc. One of these times I said, “Hey, this thing is the size of a 7.” And people responded that I was crazy.

    Found one of those threads:

    http://forums.thecarlounge.com/zerothread?id=3736456&page=2

    Guy was deciding between one of these and a 135i…

    As always, looking for participants in the reliability research. Buy a G8 or know someone who buys one? Go / send them here:

    http:/www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    ash78

    Michael Karesh

    Good point re: comparisons

    I’m more towards the utilitarian end of the spectrum–I have a set of needs and I shop cars that meet those needs. Then I see if I can afford the car.

    However, if I were to look around solely on the web forums, I’d find a LOT more people who base their car-buying needs on the PRICE followed by the class. Hence the 3-series comparison which makes no sense to me.

    As a rational consumer, I find the latter method to be pretty weird for anyone except maybe a single adult with no friends. I don’t know if this is a sympton of more-money-than-sense or just a natural offshoot of people keeping their cars for such short periods of time these days.

  • avatar
    creamy

    Gosh darn it all to heck, I should always remember to mention this: I liked the rest of the review just fine.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Can We please stop talking about BMWs and concentrate on this American Muscle car?

    I am just tired of hearing and seeing bimmers all the time. yes it is the Honda of Germany and driving a Bimmer gives you a Status Quo.

    Have you seen this car on the road with fully loaded factory wheels or pimped out? Yap it’s pretty damn nice.

    late

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I have yet to drive this car so I can’t give you a truly honest opinion on it’s merits.

    However, I can easily see this car being marketed as a ‘slim down’ model for those folks who are driving around in SUV’s and pick-up’s. In fact, this may be the perfect car for older affluent folks who want a bit more sport and could care less about the badge in front of the car.

    This has the best potential for sales success out of any full-sized vehicle I’ve seen since the 300C. I think GM has a great opportunity for itself. Let’s see if the public agrees.

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    Oldsmoboi has it right. The G8 is just a nice Pontiac, not some aspiring euro-fighter. (The first G8 I’ve seen on the street was in a grocery store parking lot, driven by a 70+ years old couple).

    This is what GM should be/should have been doing across the board, with a FWD beer can thrown in at the bottom of the Chevy lineup and ONE OR TWO mid-sized FWD sedans. If only they would run in this direction, three decades of shame could finally be over.

  • avatar
    ash78

    BEAT, Steve_K, etc:

    I think the comparisons with BMW is because Pontiac has targeted Bimmers in their advertising and promos. When they throw down the gauntlet like that, I don’t see how someone can be faulted for continuing to use that comparison.

    Ford also did it with the Edge (vs X5).

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Have you “been seeking a super-sized, (OHC)-powered, two-ton 3-Series”? If so, you could just get an M3 at 1.85 tons. Need more performance? How about a GT-R at 1.95 tons?
    Seems to me you can have your choice of size in cars, but most are close to two tons regardless. When the horns sound, it should be an oink, oink noise.

  • avatar
    Mcloud1

    I’m just glad that Pontiac is done with the pointy spoilers, excessive body cladding and melted aircraft interiors.

  • avatar
    durailer

    Great review.

    Funny how Aussies seem to have a better idea of what a Pontiac should be than the North Americans.

    Now get rid of the G6, G5, Torrent, but keep (improving) the Solstice.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Good to hear the reality matches the hype for the G8. While this certainly looks like good work by the boys down under it does make me wonder why GM can’t make that happen in US. Also I’m not quirte sure that a loss making exercise is what GM’s bottom line need right now.

    However, this is definitely signs of life. As a twice BMW owner, the G8 is the only GM sedan that I would seriously consider lust-worthy. And it’s a bargain too – with the money you save on the 5 series you can buy gas and tires for 10 years worth of burnouts.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I really want to like this car, yet something is holding me back – a test drive is in order!

    Good comments about eliminating all the electronic gadgets to focus on the CAR.

    MK’s comments re: the plain sides make it seem like he’s longing for the plastic cladding of the past…

    Automobile had a nice side by side comparison of the G8 with the 5-Series. Parked end-to-end, the design similarities are unmistakable.

  • avatar
    salhany

    The side view of the car is really, really appealing. The only shots of it I’d seen until today were frontal, arguably its worst side.

    Michael, did I miss a mention of expected MPG? I can’t imagine a 6.0 V8 is going to get good mileage.

  • avatar

    I’m not looking for cladding.

    I am looking for a more distinctive appearance, as seen with the new CTS. The CTS manages to be at once different than anything else, clearly a Cadillac, and attractive. I’d like to see them do the same for Pontiac.

    I’m also reacting to the fact that the styling has generally been praised. If a Chinese company did such a clear copy of a BMW, people would be criticizing them for copying. Why not this time?

    Maybe it’s just a matter of copying the right car? Or maybe if you don’t copy the ends, but only lift the bodysides, you’re in the clear?

    I am confused by people who see this car as American. Yes, GM is based in Michigan. But, aside from the nose, this car looks European, drives European, and is engineered and manufactured in Australia. Hence my difficulty sorting out what it is, exactly. Other than a lot of car for the price.

    As for older people buying these–if they’re not enthusiasts, they’re not going to like the ride. They’d probably find a 300 with the base or Touring suspension more to their liking.

    salhany:

    I noted the EPA figueres in the concluding paragraph. At 15/24 (2008 figures), looks like about two MPG worse than a G35 or 535i, but in line with other V8s except those from Lexus.

  • avatar

    Other than cladding and maybe an endura nose, what is there that is distinctly Pontiac? Pop up headlights maybe?

  • avatar

    Someone asked whether the A-pillar might be thick because of the airbag. I might be wrong here, but I don’t see why the airbag would be in the A-pillar, since it’s well forward of the driver. There’s certainly a curtain airbag in the header above the side window, but I’m not sure how far forward it extends.

    At any rate, the A-pillar is thick longitundinally, not laterally. I suspect it’s a matter of getting a stiff unibody without using pricey high-strength steel.

  • avatar
    deutsch18

    good review – the G8 GT is the first Pontiac in awhile that actually lives up to the GM promise of Driving Excitement –

    For those who want to buy “domestic” even though the car is Holden engineered, this car is a no-brainer at this price point. But now, for those who are cross shopping any true performance sedan around $30-35K, the G8 GT is finally a true competitor.

    Informed enthusiasts like us are willing to test drive the G8 GT – but I hope everybody else will cast aside Pontiac’s years of mediocrity/weak brand image and realize that this car is in another league. Can’t wait to drive one!

  • avatar

    Great landing, wrong airport. I want this car to succeed but I’m sure Pontiac’s lack of promotional budget will mean the G8 will slip by once the “next big thing” from GM arrives. Not to mention its only $3000 less than a Cadillac CTS, which has more style, snob appeal, and a better warranty.

    The G8 is better off as a Chevy Chevelle. With the bowtie’s deeper marketing budget, muscle car history, SS moniker (for the unknown GXP model) and stronger dealer network, it would do much better.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    It may not be American, but it is 100% GM, built by Holden.

    durailer, you made a good point in that the Aussies have a much better grasp on what Pontiac should be than the actual Pontiac people.

    The ergonomic, size and driving experience of the G8 are remarkably similar to the GTO. These cars are nimble for their size. The handling balance allows anyone with modicum of driving skill to use either end for directional control. The interiors are several grades above anything else Pontiac offers, the ergonomics are (fortunately) far removed from typical GM fare. In short, this is the sedan for those of us who are the antithesis of the Toyota driver.

    In short this is the type of car Pontiac should be selling across it’s entire range (with the possible exception of the G5). Unforutately, relying on Holden to supply “proper” Pontiacs is not a good long-term strategy. Pontiac should send a team directly to Adelaide to study how it’s done and bring that know-how back here. Otherwise, Pontiac may go the way of the Olds and Plymouth.

  • avatar

    In the CTS there is an airbag badge on the A-pillar. I believe it it part of the side curtain system.

  • avatar
    detroit1701

    BMW is 50% image, so I doubt any GM product can ever compete with that.

    I really hope that GM is considering different powertrains for the G8 in line with rising gas costs. Some blown V6 (or even twin turbo) should be the high end, maybe with the HHR SS engine as the base.

    Unfortunately, odds are that the new G6 will be FWD on the Epsilon platform. It’s really too bad that there needs to be a G6 / Aura / Malibu riding on the same chassis and engines. In keeping with Pontiac’s “new” exclusivity, the G6 (and next Saab 9-1 / 9-2) should ride the RWD Alpha platform — (no Deltas or Espilons for Pontiac — leave that to Saturn / Opel / Chevy).

  • avatar
    Orian

    4 out of 5 stars for a domestic car. That should quiet some of the people saying that thing TTAC has a bias against domestics.

    That said, it does appear very European and I’m glad to see that they got a lot right on the car, even if it is an Australian import.

    Although I personally would not buy a car with the mpg this car gets, it doesn’t look bad for a large V8 powered car. 24 highway for that kind of power is an acceptable trade off. I wonder what the ratings on the V6 models will be?

  • avatar

    The question is… would it have been 5 out of 5 stars if it was wearing a different badge?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Oldsmoboi:

    I can’t speak for Michael Karesh, the author. I can say that it’s not a badge issue for me, but a dealer issue. The local Pontiac folks are not my favorite.

    I have driven the car, and if I were reviewing it I would have given it 5 stars.

  • avatar
    ScottGSO

    I like the idea of this car as a “family sports car” meaning it is big enough to schlep the kids around in while still burning some rubber if you have the urge. The 3 Series doesn’t really make it for me, since I barely fit in the front of those and there is no way you could find me in the back of one. The 1 series, ha! maybe put some oompaloomps in back, otherwise those seats are worthless.

    This car is definitely on my list of possible next vehicles. The only thing comparable in size, price and straight-line performance is a 300/Charger, and I don’t know if Chrysler is around for the long (or short) haul.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    asfar as i can tell this is the ss and the harder one is the ssv. does any one know what else youse are getting, will you get any hsv product, what about the LWB versions, i hear you are getting a 6 is that the omega or the sv6
    and if it is the omega youve got to love the fact that australias bigges selling car is seen as excitment material in the us

    and if this sells well do you think ford might take notice and sell some falcons in the us

  • avatar
    dean

    I wish it looked less like a Pontiac from the front. I wish they would retire the double kidney grill and come up with a new look.

    The interior may be a little reserved, but it is a great compared to the “melted” look of Pontiacs past.

    I think the V6 model could legitimately compete for Camcord buyers.

  • avatar
    rprellwitz

    Does anyone know if GM plans to ever offer this with a six speed manual?

  • avatar
    Eggpainter

    @Oldsmoboi:

    “The question is… would it have been 5 out of 5 stars if it was wearing a different badge?”

    I would phrase that the other way:

    Would it have been 3 out of 5 stars if it was wearing an upmarket badge?

    In other words, is our reality distorted because “it’s a good effort from Pontiac”?

    Just like Hyundai, Kia etc. – graded on the curve, for effort versus reality.

  • avatar

    The upcoming GXP will be available with a manual, and about 40 more horsepower. That one’s much more likely to get five stars from me.

    In this case, I’ve withheld a fifth star because of the knockoff styling, recalcitrant automatic, and my desire (which wouldn’t fit in the review) for better-bolstered seats. The GXP will fix the transmission issue, and might have upgraded seats.

    I’m also less willing to give a fifth star than some other reviewers.

  • avatar
    uncle_dave

    Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the brand new Pontiac Flop. They might sell a few if they put more chrome on it, full wheelcovers and whitewalls for the 80+ crowd that’s been abandoned by Buick. There’s also some potential customers at your local law enforcement agency looking to replace an aging Crown Vic fleet, other than that, no takers.

  • avatar
    rochskier

    Only 361 hp from 6.0 liters is a little disappointing.

    Especially when the guys over at Chrysler have managed to equip the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 with a 6.1 liter V8 making 420 hp.

  • avatar

    Was this a G8 review or a 3-series piece?

  • avatar

    rochskier – 425 bhp on the SRT-8….what till the Challenger hits the streets…then wait till the mate the 6.1 with a 6-speed manual!!!

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    Nice review. Thanks!

    I actually do hope that the G8 will bring a little life back into Pontiac.

    I can safely say that this car has been added to my very short list of domestics I would consider buying. Even that’s not saying much, since the G8 is an import…

  • avatar
    carguy

    rochskier – Inside Line tested an automatic SRT-8 Charger against the automatic V8 G8 and their 1/4 mile and 0-60 times were almost identical. I don’t think the extra HP is helping Dodge (except for bragging rights).

    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=124876

  • avatar
    blautens

    For those disappointed with the HP and shifting – no worries. A couple of months and tuners like Vector Motorsports will do wonders with both. Just ask any of the people who bought their tune for LS1 and LS2 powered vehicles. I, for one, no longer fear 6.1 SRT-8s.

    If I were a sedan guy, and wasn’t so pissed at GM for putting me in a rental every couple of months, I’d put one of these in my driveway. Sadly, I need my car to start every time…

  • avatar
    danms6

    rochskier:

    The HP value is probably slightly detuned to get a decent MPG rating. If you check the mileage rating on a SRT-8 Cherokee you’ll see what the extra HP costs you. This will sell better than the Jeep so they have to appeal to a greater audience. For those looking for extra power, a mild tune is easy enough.

  • avatar

    For everyone still slagging the author for the BMW comparison, why don't you throw the rocks at Pontiac first? They've invited the comparison as blatantly as possible. In case you missed it, check the link posted by John R. about 60 posts ago.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Forget the obvious styling cues for a moment — you GM fans had better hope and pray that this car can genuinely compete with the 3-series. Because if it can’t, there won’t be a lot of buyers for it.

    If the only customers who are interested in this are those who are driving older Impalas, then GM is in a heap of trouble. GM needs new customers, and that means conquest buyers. Conquering Chevy isn’t much of an accomplishment if you are in the senior management of GM.

  • avatar

    I’m not getting on him for a general BMW comparison, just a 3-series comparison. Rather than look at this car as a really big 3-series, why not look at it as an inexpensive 5-series. The G8 and 5-series have much more in common dimensionally and in performance than the 3-series does.

    It’s a 5-series minus iDrive, DOHC, and snob appeal. Those that can come to that realization are in for a hell of a car. If the G8 ride is too harsh for them, they can always line their rear pockets with the $30,000 in cash they didn’t spend to get a 550i or buy a Lucerne as a backup car when they need something a bit softer.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Rather than look at this car as a really big 3-series, why not look at it as an inexpensive 5-series.

    Because the price point is the primary basis for determining the closest competitors. Buying cars is not like buying land, they aren’t purchased by the square foot.

    If car buyers chose cars based upon their length and width, then Detroit would have never lost market share in the first place. They can size it like a 5-series, but unless they price it like one, the comparison doesn’t work.

  • avatar

    If that is the case, I look forward to the TTAC comparison test between the G8 and the 1-series…. because that’s the BMW that the G8 lines up with price wise.

    Size does matter.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I think there’s a huge market for these cars. Any man that needs a family sedan but wants something a little sportier than a Camry or Accord (for a little bit extra $) would definitely want to check this out. That’s the same segment the Maxima used to cater to before it became a bloated whale

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    One of the few things I liked about my Saturn Vue was the window controls in the center stack. I thought this car sounded fun when it was an Aussie. Though Jeremy Clarkson did berate it basically for being Aussie, the tire smoking power sure was attractive. Offer it with a 5-speed manual and it could get a look from me in a couple of years as a new car for my wife.

  • avatar
    huy

    If someone wanted a roomy car with usable rear seats, then they wouldn’t cross-shop this with a BMW 128i. Performance-wise, I have to think the G8 is more than capable against a 128i. The G8 is a lot of car for $30k, no matter how you slice it. I say put your money where your mouth is and really compare this to a 3-series… drive it back to back, measure some numbers… oh wait, this site doesn’t do that.

  • avatar

    huy:

    The G8 is a lot of car for $30k, no matter how you slice it. I say put your money where your mouth is and really compare this to a 3-series… drive it back to back, measure some numbers… oh wait, this site doesn’t do that.

    We would if we could. And will when we can.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @Oldsmoboi: “It’s a 5-series minus [...] snob appeal.”

    That alone will kill off a lot of potential interest.

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    It looks like a great car, but I can’t help but think that it’s going to flop, just like every other rebadged import GM has brought out in the last decade (GTO, Catera, L-series). This one looks a lot more like a Pontiac than the GTO did, which I think will help. I still don’t think it completely fits the rest of their lineup, which may or may not be a bad thing (do they really want it to share the same styling as the Torrent?). It looks worlds better than the outgoing Grand Prix, though.

  • avatar
    rochskier

    carguy:

    According to Edmunds the Charger’s curb weight is about 165 lbs. north of the G8 GT’s. I guess I was too busy focusing on the bhp #s to notice.

  • avatar

    “@Oldsmoboi: “It’s a 5-series minus […] snob appeal.”

    @hwyhobo: That alone will kill off a lot of potential interest.”

    There is a reason the G8 is $30,000 cheaper than an equally performing 5-series.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    I have no idea how long this car has been on dealer lots for sale, but I have yet to see a single one of these on the roads of Austin.

    That said, I do hope for its success, but hope more that Pontiac eventually offers a six-speed version of the G8 that drops an iteration of the 260HP Ecotec turbo used in the Solstice GXP for improved fuel economy without totally sacrificing punch.

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    keepaustinweird: They’re just starting to arrive at a few dealers here in Utah. The dealership where my dad works didn’t have any last week. Now they’ve got three. Seems to be a repeat of the Malibu’s launch.

  • avatar

    The car isn’t really trying to be a BMW and Holden doesn’t build BMW-like cars, at least that’s what the Aussies say. This car emphasizes smokey burnouts, tail out powerslides and other shenanigans more than anything else. In fact it rips the quarter mile up with just a ECU reflash for premium fuel.

    http://www.fquick.com/videos/Pontiac_G8_Track_Run/5298

    I wish GM hadn’t restyled the front of the car. Though it doesn’t look radically different most people prefer Holden’s original styling. Thankfully the front fascia and hood are affordable, readily available and easy to finish and install.

    Still, this great review bodes very well for the upcoming Camaro which uses a modified version of Holden’s chassis and the same suspension. It should be a big winner.

  • avatar
    Theodore

    Good size + good handling + good looks + good price = great value. Oh, and no “look at me, I’m driving a BMW!” snobbery. Some people don’t want the BMW image. I’ll take a V6 model in black.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’m a little surprised folks find it odd to compare to a 3-series. Although comparing to a 1-series is something I find odd. Size difference is huge. Still I them all and can only ask (god) to afford one. So Cross shop I will (like to).

  • avatar

    The comparisons with the 3-series are hard to avoid simply based on price, not size or raw, straightline performance. The G8 is inarguably faster and bigger for the money, but it’s edging up into 3-series price territory, and buyers willing to spend that much are often tempted by the badge cachet of premium brands, even if it means sacrificing horsepower, cylinder count, and features.

    This is even more pronounced in the UK, where the similarity in price between a reasonably equipped D-segment car (Mondeo, Accord, Vectra) and a basic 3-series/A4/C-class has really done serious harm to the sales and resale values of the non-premium D-segment models. The non-premium car has more space, more features, and more power than a comparably priced premium make, but buyers have been heavily favoring the latter. Is a V6 Mondeo a better value than an identically priced 318i? In terms of space, features, and performance, you get a lot more for your money (at least until you factor in the almost vertical depreciation curve), but buyers seem unconvinced.

    In many ways I don’t think the G8 is a bad car, but it’s in a really tough spot, market-wise: too expensive and too thirsty for the family-car set, not snooty enough for the badge snobs.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    This G8 ride is pretty damn nice. Just went to lunch today in my boss’s new G8 with the V8. He traded his 2006 C6 ‘Vette in on the deal (it’s good to be the boss) but this is a heckuva fast car. My boss is an old Goodwrench kind of guy, (doing the frame-off ’68 Camaro restore thing at his home) so I think G8 sales will be good because there’s more than one of this type of guy out there, at least for a couple of business quarters.

    As far as competing with a BMW, I don’t think it is going to happen. The cultural disconnect is too severe. BMW uses a very intelligent powerplant in the 3, sticking with an in-line 6 RWD car all these years is brave and smart on their part, and no one figures that out despite the endless imitators – it’s the one thing about the 3 no one imitates ironically. Power trains have been a Bavarian strong-suit since they were stuffing radials in FW-190’s. But frankly, BMW doesn’t do much else that could be considered world-beating or unique. Their cars being all Bangled-up are kinda ugly. iDrive blows. Reliability-wise they aren’t any better, slightly worse as I understand it, than their Japanese competitors. Maintaining a BMW is also more expensive on a mile-by-mile basis given the spendy parts and of course the snob premium attached to all things Bavarian.

    BMW could take a Cherry right off the street in Shanghai, throw some Bangle on it, leather, and a GPS nav screen and sell it for north of $30k and all the yuppies would still clamor for it. BMW is kind of like Apple Computer that way with their market, they Can Do No Wrong even when they do, or even when someone else does the same thing better. And bang for the buck, the G8 from what I could tell today is the better car.

    I do think the G8 can win some import-buyers though. The IS350 is cool, and so is the G35. But they are slower, don’t sound as cool, don’t look as good, and cost considerably more. Oh, and they don’t say “BMW” anywhere on them. The G8 has a legitimate shot at that market if folks drive them side-by-side.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    why is everyone so down on the G-6.
    I rented one and it drove pretty well…

  • avatar
    ScottGSO

    For the record, I owned (or at least leased) a BMW (Z4) and it was one of the junkiest cars I’ve ever been associated with. I guess the plastic was nice enough, except a big piece of it would fall off every 3rd month (seat back, plastic panels on door, parts of trunk) all this in only 15K miles. I can tell you, never again will I buy a bimmer. My GMC, has had on problems at all for 5 years and 45K. Go figure.

    In my humble experience, BMW’s are way overpriced and way over-rated.

  • avatar
    Rix

    I don’t think mileage will hurt this. A subaru WRX gets the same mileage.

    What will kill this is the GM dealer network. Going to a GM dealer is a miserable experience. Last time I wandered into one, I was actually hounded off the lot by the aggressive salesfolk. I staggered back to my car with my hands thrust out to keep them away. It was like a zombie movie. I wouldn’t set foot in a Pontiac dealership if you paid me $50.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    Good review …. can’t wait to actually do a test drive. Our local Pontiac dealer has one in stock, so this weekend might be “the time”.

    As to comments on the dealer network and how that is going to be a huge problem, well I’ve got to comment on my experience. We have a ’98 Firebird and a ’03 Rainier, both of which have had all of their routine service done at my local Pontiac/Buick/GMC outlet. I have had nothing but great Customer Service from these guys. Always nice, never pushy, always wash the car after service (even a $30.00 oil change), just overall nice folks. We purchased the Rainier there, and that experience was likewise very professional without any of the BS most folks seem to encounter. Now granted this is probably the exception, but there are nice GM dealers out there that understand how to treat a customer with respect. From talking with some of my friends, they don’t get this sort of treatment from their Toyota or Honda dealer. Shoot, last time I went in there to have the oil changed in my daughter’s car, they even had complimentary manicures in the waiting area!! I wonder if the MB dealer down the street was offering that???

  • avatar

    This car doesn’t directly compete with any BMW. It was never intended or engineered by Holden to do so. BMW customers are not going to buy this over their favorite brand.

    It’s simply an honest, hot-blooded family muscle car not unlike many American cars of the 1960s and our own Dodge Charger R/T of today. In fact that’s the car that’s squarely in the G8′s crosshairs and one that will be gunning for G8 owners on the streets and tracks. You cannot throw a rock here in Phoenix without hitting a Charger R/T. There’s definitely room for an alternative to it in the market and Pontiac should be able to move the 30,000 or so cars Holden can provide per year. Almost a month after it’s release I still can’t test drive one here in Phoenix as they are sold before or just after they arrive at dealerships.

    The latest G8 spot with the 5-Series isn’t saying the G8 is a 5-Series, it’s showing the merit of the G8 to customer’s in it’s price range. Just like the tongue-in-cheek ads Hyundai was running against premium cars a year ago.

    The fact that BMW does come up consistently when discussing this car is very favorable for it and GM though, and many who cannot afford a BMW but are shopping for a car in the G8′s price range have a very attractive new choice.

  • avatar
    davey49

    2 questions from me;
    How will it sell to old time musclecar fans?
    How is the engine sound?
    I hope the G8 makes it to Koni Cup or World Challenge racing.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    They really need to release this with a manual. No manual = no buy.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Great review, although I think the more appropriate benchmark is the RAV4.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I saw this car at the NY Auto show and spent a lot of time with it. Exterior wise, it was, IMHO, very well built, nicely styled, a hit. Performance specs as posted in the auto press are very good. A bit portly, but almost all modern cars are too damn heavy. Seat comfort was for me very good. Negatives? Where is the 6 speed manual? Interior material quality was seriously sub-par. As I listened to other peoples’ comments, this came up over and over and was usually followed by a comment that indicated how superior the interior of their Accord was. As much as I hate to admit it, they are correct. As much as I wanted to be smitten by this car I think it is off my list due to the crappy interior. Why would a manufacturer cut corners on the parts that owners would touch day after day?

    As for the Bimmer comments, that’s fine for comparing relative levels of performance but lets be honest, there will be no cross shopping. And I disagree with the poster who said most BMW owners buy the car for the car, not the cachet. I think most buy the car for the roundel on the hood; certainly 3 series buyers. How else do you explain the resurgence of “M” logos being stuck on garden variety BMWs. This was a very common sight on Reagan era BMWs. Seems to be making a comeback in 2008.

  • avatar
    huy

    davey49, it is too quiet but an aftermarket exhaust should fix that no problem. (it shouldn’t take long to come out) this car is getting good feedback from GM enthusiasts and owners of the other Holden we got (the GTO), so i would imagine that it would appeal to muscle car fans.

    the lack of a manual (and paddle shifters for the automatic) is due to the engine choice. GM wanted the variable displacement engine, so they gave up those choices. the 400hp GXP should be coming with a manual though.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I went and looked at one today after reading the review. The exterior looks great in person. The interior is the deal breaker for me. The lower half of the dash in front of the driver (below the silver) isn’t firmly attached and will likely cause rattles, same with the flimsy glove box door. The map lights and overhead light seem useless, the A-pillars are huge, the day-night know on the rear view mirror could obstruct the view of a city bus and the manumatic function of the gear lever is on the wrong side and too far for me to reach, the material on the top of the dash is interesting and soft touch, but likely to collect a lot of dust. In fairness, I’d didn’t drive the car and will do so. However, the G8 isn’t going to be a first choice for me.

  • avatar
    stuki

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would certainly cross shop this one with a 535 if I wanted a family sized sedan. The 3 is just too small to fill that role. That small block V8 (Extrapolated from experience with the Corvette) is pretty much the only engine out there capable of giving Bimmer’s blown 6 a spanking in a daily driven auto equipped car.

    Also, for those who lease, the difference between a G8 and a 5 will be a lot less than the sticker suggests. BMW Financial, at least for now, maintains residuals on their cars GM can only dream of affording.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I pulled up behind one today at a stoplight. I didn’t know what it was at first, until I spotted the nameplate. It really looked bland from the rear and from the sides.

    However, it really moved away from the stoplight with authority. No smoking tires, just that seemingly effortless torque that comes from a good-sized V-8 engine. If you want something stealthy, this is it.

  • avatar

    The car is awesome as are all of Holden’s homegrown efforts but I can’t help but feel that it is simply wasted on the moribund Pontiac brand. Aside from this car and the Solstice it is completely dead.

    Pontiac is not getting a new Firebird twin to the Camaro (God knows why, it might be a rebadge but it’s a legendary brand-defining one with a substantial fanbase). The Holden Coupe 60 concept is breathtaking but years away if they decide to produce it and who knows where the US dollar will be by then. That and Pontiac’s rental car brand image with ugly twin grilles is hard to shake when you restyle Holdens with that cue instead of restyling all Pontiacs after Holden’s clean and modern cues like GM did with Saturn and Opel.

    Holden already exports their products as Chevrolets to other parts of the world. I’m positive that if this car and other Holdens like the Ute and Sportwagon were sold through Chevrolet instead of Pontiac with their original cosmetics and only a badge change that they would fare much better in sales, conquesting buyers from foreign automakers and whatever profit margins GM can squeeze out of it.

    http://www.chevroletarabia.com/content_data/LAAM/ME/en/GBPME/001/G1/1L/1LSSE_overview.html?cntryCd=AE

    The silver lining is the car is a steal and the Holden hood and front fascia with Holden or Chevrolet badges is a cheap and easy to install.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The G8 seems to fall somewhere between the Charger R/T and 3/5-series BMW. Given the reasonable price, it will probably sell okay, certainly better than the Holden GTO with its Cavalier-with-a-thyroid-problem look.

    It might even garner a few BMW purists who long for the days of the more traditional, pre-Bangle ‘same sausage, different length’ appearance of those cars. Comparing the pre-Bangle 7-series with the current, iDrive version, who could blame them.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @NICKNICK
    why copy someone else’s 1990s design? because it looks good, that’s why.

    i really don’t know what BMW was thinking with the whole bangle thing.

    Most people don’t realize that the Bangle era didn’t begin with the E65 7-series.
    Bangle was responsible for the E46′s styling, as well as everything else BMW put on wheels since the mid-90s. He became Chief of Design in 1992.

  • avatar

    Very nice looking. It’s not my cup of coffee–too portly, I’d want a 6 or even a 4, and a clutch. But I think it looks better than the Xler muscle cars, and most of the rest of the sedans out there. If TTAC had a deathwatch clock for GM, the way the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has a doomsday clock (always hovering near midnight) I’d say this car should push the clock back a few minutes.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    “The G8 is inarguably faster and bigger for the money, but it’s edging up into 3-series price territory…”

    Not any 3-series you’d want. The G8 GT is 31K with the sport package. The cheapest BMW 328i is 32.5K, and good luck finding one stripped to such an extent. The BMW is an ugly car with 130 less horsepower; I can’t imagine those that would appreciate what the G8 has to offer would cross-shop the 328i.

    But it goes both ways. I’ve spent a fair bit of time in both Pontiac and BMW forums. The Pontiac people don’t care about BMW; they think the G8 is a great car on its own merits and the comparison never comes up. The BMW people are a complete reversal. They (and I’d say it’s about an 80/20 split here) don’t care about the merits; it’s all about the badge. Forum people tend to be even more performance-oriented than the general public. If they don’t care when Pontiac nips at BMW’s heels, everyone else certainly won’t. Pontiac isn’t going to catch too many defectors from BMW.

    “[The G8] … is simply an honest, hot-blooded family muscle car not unlike many American cars of the 1960s and our own Dodge Charger R/T of today.”

    Absolutely not. If it was, it would be dismissed in the same fashion that the the Dodge Charger is already dismissed. The suspension design of the G8′s platform was ripped wholesale from the E39 5-series. The car can handle. Comparing it to the overpowered “muscle car” garbage from the past is damning it with faint praise. The G8 is an absolute sea-change for Pontiac. GM has never had anything like it.

    Personally, I agree with Michael that the car is a bargain. To the extent it’s let down, the interior is merely average and the car in general is too large. I’d like to see a coupe version around 185 inches in length with shortened overhangs. Whether either of these will stop me from buying it remains to be seen. I don’t see anything with comparable performance that I wouldn’t feel too old to drive.

  • avatar
    red stick

    The automobile advertising section of the local paper had a “review” of the 2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart today. Projected price in the high 20′s. 258 hp. Projected gas mileage of 16/25. The G8 may not be frugal with gas, but this kind of puts such thoughts in perspective.

  • avatar

    Again, I made the 3-Series comparison because:

    1. The car looks like an enlarged E46

    2. I have come across people cross-shopping the two, and even the G8 and the 1, in forums.

    Also:

    Let’s face it: even if GM wasn’t aiming for the 3 with this car, this is where they would have ended up even if they had been aiming for the 3.

    Comparisons with the Charger are moot. Sales of Chrysler’s large cars have been on life support for nearly two years at this point. They were hot during 2005 and 2006. It ain’t 2006 anymore.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I wonder if those weighing the 1-series and the G8 are actually in the market for either, or if they’re just doing the equivalent of bench-racing. The size difference really is dramatic.

    Did you ever have occasion to drive the E39 540i or M5?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Bob Lutz has alluded to the idea of crafting Pontiac as a bargain performance brand to compete with BMW.

    GM has publicly stated that the BMW 5-series was the benchmark for the G8′s performance, and the Audi A6 was the benchmark for its interior.

    http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070214/FREE/70212010/1528

    The styling cues applied to the American car make it even more obvious what GM is trying to do with G8.

    If GM can earn some conquest buyers from the Lexus/Infiniti/BMW/etc. near-luxury market, that would be a home run. If it can capture would be Camcord buyers, that would be a double or a triple. If it only sells them to Mopar fans, Crown Victoria supporters and old-style Impala buyers, then this is going to be a costly mistake.

  • avatar
    p00ch

    No V6? No manual? Why not stick a masterpiece of a motor in there (I’m thinking BMW’s twin turbo six) with a 6-speed manual option? Perhaps I’m in the minority but I don’t need a gigantic 6 litre torquester to have a good time…

  • avatar

    Then this isn’t your car p00ch, look somewhere else.

    I drove one of these the other day. In short, the car is top notch in every respect. Even the V6 model with the cloth interior and no center stack screen looks good in the flesh.

    First the car is very well made, very well trimmed inside and the ride and handling balance is amazing. I know the German comparison is overused in car reviews but after driving numerous 530 and 550i cars and being in a BMW family I can honestly say this thing feels like a near relative to Bavarian bahn stormers.

    Compared to the Holden made GTO this car feels a generation newer and that a lot more effort went into it (which it did). It feels like the natural evolution of the GTO and I would call it a four-door version of that car.

    The steering has more heft and it’s more precise, not vague and rubbery like the GTO. The suspension works better, handles beautifully, has tons of grip and doesn’t feel unsettled nor does it kick hard over bumps like the GTO does. There is so much less tire noise too. The GTO has lots of road noise but the G8 is nearly silent on 90mph.

    The interior is a generation better too. In fact the interior is quite competitive with cars in the G8′s price range and nearly the best you can get. The leather sewn into the G8 is soft, akin to what you’d find on a soft brown leather jacket. Build quality is the same if not better everywhere and switchgear and display quality is improved. Instead of the watch-like LCD displays in the GTO you get high-res PC-style displays in the G8. Every stalk and knob has a nice feel to it, even the door handles when they release. The gauge cluster isn’t great though. I’m not fond of the font nor do I like the lack of color coordinated backgrounds like the GTO enjoyed. Hopefully that is changed for 2009. The seats are exceptional and properly shaped, very supportive and suck you in. One oddity is that the seatbacks don’t have an electric recline like the GTO does and they are hard to adjust.

    The trunk and backseat are gigantic, amazing considering the car doesn’t look very big in photos or in person. It hides it’s mass well while admiring it and while driving it.

    The engine is a beast. It makes all the right GM LSX sounds and it accelerates with authority. It’s not explosive like the LS1 or LS2 and feels a little dialed back but a tune and some mods should take care of that. The exhaust is also whisper quiet, a travesty given the car’s mission. It should have some serious thunder. The transmission is good too, much better if left in sport mode than regular mode. In regular mode it shifts up to 6th gear ASAP and lugs the V8 around. In sport it holds gears much better and you can tap it to pass instead of dropping the hammer down. Not much in the way of engine braking though.

    This is really an exceptional car for the money and the most practical muscle car on the market aside from Chrysler’s HEMI offerings, except this car makes those feel cheap and reedy in comparison.

  • avatar

    The car responds very very well to tuning and light modifcation too.

    “The peak numbers with 123 miles on her on my Mustang MD 1750 dyno are:

    Bone Stock 279 RWHP 295 RWTQ

    Quick Tune leaning it out a little 288 RWHP 307 RWTQ

    Same Tune & a CAI we made 300 RWHP 316 RWTQ

    http://yonsonracing.com/g8/g8_fl.jpg

    http://yonsonracing.com/g8/g8_dyno.jpg

    Another G8 with only a tune and only 33 miles on it ran low 13s at ATCO raceway.

    http://www.fquick.com/videos/Pontiac_G8_Track_Run/5298

    Power to the people.

  • avatar
    Kman

    This thing looks and seems great. I love the proportions.

    But I will not be able to get past:

    - Those silly hood scoops
    - The Pontiac badge
    - The GM dealership experience
    - The GM depreciation experience
    - The knowledge that GM will be dropping such an appealing model line because they need to get back “to making money instead of making cars”*

    *paraphrasing GM CEO of a few years back, Jack Smith “We’re not in the business of making cars, we’re in the business of making money.”

  • avatar
    p00ch

    TriShield

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the way this car looks and it sounds like it’s a great drive. I want it to succeed but in order to do so, I think GM needs to offer some variety of engine/transmission combinations. At current fuel prices, a 6.0 will scare a lot of shoppers away. Besides, even the M5 only uses 5 litres of displacement…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Virtually no one would buy a manual transmission G8. These are becoming so rare in the United States that they often need to be special ordered, even when purchasing European perforance cars such as BMW’s. There just isn’t that much demand anymore.

    However, I would have offered a six-speed, anyway, not because they would be popular but for the halo benefit. Having some sticks would probably help to sell some automatics, because of the performance cred that would accompany them.

    The benefit would be mostly with the media coverage. If a manual tranny model could get rave reviews from the motoring press, it could sell the Pontiac=BMW message more effectively to those who GM would like to hear it most.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    “Besides, even the M5 only uses 5 litres of displacement…”

    So what? The displacement doesn’t matter. When the engine isn’t stressed, the car naturally tapers back fuel use. The G8 also has an active fuel management system that shuts off half the cylinders under light loads.

    I’m sure you’re also aware that the M5 is rated for a decidedly gluttonous 11/17 mpg, and that the G8 does have an optional V6.

    “However, I would have offered a six-speed, anyway, not because they would be popular but for the halo benefit.”

    They will. When the GXP arrives next year, that manual transmission will become an option for the G8 GT, or so I’ve been led to believe.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Everything I’ve read suggests the manual will be GXP only. Reasons range from the lack of demand, complexity of matching the manual to cylinder cutoff, the expense of certifying the manual/L76 combinations (again with so few takers) and/or minimizing potential option combinations given the limited plant capacity/shipping distances.

  • avatar
    TwoTonic

    Part of the dissonance here really reinforces what screaming deals both the V6 and GT versions of the G8 represent. At $30K the GT offers incredible value even compared to new 1-series, which by the time you dig into the infamous BMW-option-list will be thousands higher than that. For an ugly car with limited rear seat room and tiny trunk.

    The car the G8 GT stacks up closest nose-to-nose with is actually the BMW 550i… similar size, 360HP, virtually identical weight. The BMW purists will claim you get a more “refined” car (which translates to high-redline, but not much torque down low) and an “elegant” interior (which includes that abomination known as iDrive). But, that BMW pride-of-ownership” is going to set you back twice the money ($60K!) at list. And, over $70K by the time you spec out the options that bring you the features the G8 GT includes in its generous base price. This is even aside from the fact that most car guys find the Bangle-ized 5-series repulsive. (Full disclosure, I have and enjoy E34, E39 and E46s, but the Bangle cars are flat-out ugly– As Lutz called them, “angry kitchen appliances”.)

    The BMWs are all fine automobiles, but the G8 is pretty compelling, especially if you need usable rear seats and a real trunk for half the price of the 550i.

    This is finally the spiritual successor to the beloved RWD Impala SS– still a great buy with a lot more of that refinement stuff the BMW guys always talk about.

    Or, look at it this way– for the $73K the BMW 550i really costs when optioned out, when you factor in GM rebates and channel pricing you can buy BOTH a G8 and an LS3 Corvette and have the best of both worlds: a real family sedan and a real sports car. The G8 is a real buy.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    When the GXP arrives next year, that manual transmission will become an option for the G8 GT, or so I’ve been led to believe.

    The problem with this is that GM needs the PR boost now, while the car is still fresh, not later when the buzz has fallen off.

    The manual versions are available in Australia, so there was no reason why they couldn’t have been imported here. It’s was a lost opportunity to get more press attention.

    We’ll see what happens. JD Power Australia’s survey put Holden at the bottom of the list, so we’ll see how well they make the transition here.

  • avatar

    The manual isn’t offered on the GT because it doesn’t work with the cylinder deactivation GM added to the car for the US.

    Australians get the manual because Holden does not use cylinder deactivation on the engine. If GM wanted to offer the manual on the G8 GT all they would have to do is just have Holden install the L98 version of the V8 on cars that check the manual box. I don’t know if they certified or would have to certify the L98 with the EPA though and that might be one reason why we don’t get it.

    It’s the same over at Chrysler with the Challenger except they offer you the choice. Those that opt for the manual get the HEMI without cylinder deactivation. Those that get the automatics get the HEMI with the deactivation.

    Whether turning off the cylinders actually saves any fuel in the real world is up for debate. From the figures I’ve seen posted at GM sites and at Holden sites from owners of these cars it looks like the deactivation does not make any real world difference in consumption. Both versions of the car seem to use the same amount of fuel whether it’s in Australia and the US.

    The G8 V6 only gets 1 MPG better than the V8 too, and it works much harder to move the car. Little engines in huge cars like this do not really use any less fuel. They just cost less to buy.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Sorry, I should have been clearer that I was referring to the six-cylinder model, which uses the same motor used in the Commodore.

    Originally, the 6-cylinder G8 was supposed to be offered with a stick, but that seems to have been canceled. There is a six-speed manual available with this engine in the Commodore, so I am questioning why they did not bring that option here.

  • avatar
    TwoTonic

    Although the manual would help a lot to reinforce the “sporting” credentials of the line, the reality is that the vast majority of buyers in the sedan classes opt for the automatics. In the BMW 5-series the opt-in rate for the manual (which is a really nice gearbox) is very low, most 5-series buyers buy the automatic. Even Mercedes still offers a true manual in the “C-Class” Sport version, but it’s a virtually unheard-of option. Far over 95% of buyers are going with the slushbox. It seems likely that GM weighed this trade-off and brought the mainstream versions to market first with automatics.

    Which is too bad, because I’d buy a GT in a heartbeat right now if they offered that Tremec 6060. The alternative is to get on the list for the GXP, which has been pre-announced with the 6-speed and the LS3-derivative motor.

    This does seem to be the GM marketing roll-out playbook– offering the generic, ‘vanilla’ versions first, then trickling out the sexier versions over the first few years of the cars’ life cycles– presumably to keep people coming back to look at the more exciting versions. This is what they did with the Solstice, the V-series of CTS and STS, even with the C6 roll-out.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    You know what’s a really kick ass looking car compared to this? The Holden version. WTF do they keep ruining these cars with Pontiac styling.

    Edit for image: http://www.houstoncars.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/01/WindowsLiveWriter/HoldenCommodoreSSPontiacG8_D728/holden-commodore-ss%5B2%5D.jpg

  • avatar
    TwoTonic

    Well, at least they’ve stopped gluing on two-inch-thick fake body cladding… why Pontiac ever thought THAT said ‘driving excitement’ is beyond me.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Has anyone looked to see if you can remove the Pontiac badges with a hairdryer and some dental floss?

  • avatar
    gsp

    comparing a GM product to BMW is a joke. lets give this G8 two years and see all the black in CR. lets see how many they sell. i like the look of this car and it probably is a deal. but carefully look at the engineering of any BMW product and you will see details that GM won’t (can’t?) put in their cars until another few decades have passed.

    GM won’t be judged on this car anyway. they will be judged on the Volt as they themselves have set themselves up for the fall.

  • avatar
    TwoTonic

    By “engineering of any BMW” product do you mean things like the class recall for all the VANOS-I valve-train failures or the Alusil-Nikasil engine disaster? Or the universally-negative iDrive reviews? GM seems to have given all those engineering breakthroughs a wide berth.

    GM may have a lot of flaws, but anymore they tend not to test their engineering ‘experiments’ out on their customers quite as much as BMW. GM has to build for the masses, so can’t take as many risks with technologies that aren’t ready for release. GM might actually have learned something from those horrible 6.2L diesels and the self-destructing aluminum-block Vegas 30 years ago!

    Hence, there’s nothing revolutionary about the G8, but it looks to be a solid value with well-proven components. The 4L60/6L80 transmissions have shipped millions of units by now and the Gen III/IV (despite only 16 valves and a single, lonely camshaft) motors– tens of millions. It’s a proven drivetrain.

    And, yes, I want one to sit next to the E46 and the E39.

  • avatar
    d002

    What is the G8 ?

    It is a Holden Commodore, a car designed for the Australian market. There is even less ‘Pontiac’ input than the GTO, the only difference being the bumpers.

    The interior looks agricultural because Australian don’t like lots of dials and switches (tacky city). It doesn’t have a soft top option, whitewalls or exterior imitation wood pannelling either.

    Derivative ? The Commodore has been made since 1978. The styling of the current model has gradually evolved from the 1988 VN model, which used the bodyshell of a West German Opel Omega.

  • avatar
    prosumer

    In a matter of days TTAC slams the i135 and almost gives the G8 5 stars… wow!

    As hondaphile who owned an e46 and grew up with American v8′s; I would cross shop this with a used e39 M5. I wrote a blog entry here on the GXP http://rhinoracing.org/?p=47 a few weeks ago with embedded videos of some reviews of the Vauxhall from TopGear and 5th gear and an interview with GM engineer. Pontiac clearly aimed for the 5 series, and though they didn’t hit the mark like the GT-R owns the 911, they came close from what I have seen. It is a huge hurdle for me to buy a Pontiac, much less any domestic vehicle, but this is close to convincing.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    This past week at work, we had a near base-model 256HP V-6 version in our stable and I would pretty much agree with your review. The car visually much more impressive in person than in pictures. It has an aggressive, yet clean look with great stance. The body shut-lines are crisp and tight with minimal gaps and the car just looks visually very strong and solid, masculine even. On the inside, I agree that some Americans will find a few of the ergonomics odd, but overall the cabin was also very visually cohesive, and while there was a lot of unwrapped plastic surfaces, they all had nice technical grains and mostly looked upscale. Most of the controls felt very solid, sturdy and of an overall high-caliber with good weighting and tactile feedback…although the sunroof control’s VW-style-dial did not and was also poorly detented. The steering wheel was nice and thick, the shifter fell right where it should and I think the handbrake integration into the center console is elegant and clever. Overall, the interior was a very enjoyable place to be while driving with gusto.
    As for driving the G8, I thought the car drove like a badass American sedan should and for the G8′s $29K sticker, I was very pleasantly surprised…and that opinion wasn’t limited to me…many an import-biased engineer came away impressed and we all agreed that while it’s NOT a BMW, it sure beats the Grand Prix in every category (especially the Fun category) and this car is EXACTLY what a performance American sedan should be…many of us felt like it would have made the perfect Chevrolet Impala.
    The other conclusion many of us came to about our week with the G8 was this: You can buy a whole bunch of ‘Transportation Appliances’ for $23-$29K…but for a little more coin, you can get an aggressive-looking, roomier, fast, hi-performance sedan that is a lot of fun to drive and returns half-way decent fuel mileage to boot. Try it, drive it, thrash it…check it out, I think you’ll be surprised. We were.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Four things wrong with this car

    1. Front end redesign. Big mistake. They should have kept it Holden which looks 1000 times better.
    2. No turbo four banger for better fuel efficiency.
    3. Stiff suspension (A strict no no in my book and so is lack of sound deadening materials)
    4. Pontiac Logo.

  • avatar
    CasterOil

    Having owned a Holden Calais for 5 months, I can probably provide some balanced (Ozzie) input into a V6 iteration of the G8.

    Firstly, the A-pillars. Yes, they are air-bagged, but by Christ they are huge! You are constantly weaving your head back and forth to see around them, not only when having a fang, but in normal driving – i.e. at pedestrian crossings, just to make sure you aren’t about to run over someone! Stupid, stupid design.

    The A-pillar will completely hide some idiot in the next lane who thinks that putting on the indicator entitles them to change lanes on top of you. (ref: taxi drivers). Unless you “duck and weave”, you CANNOT see their rear indicator OR their side indicator.

    Second gripe – the steering-wheel “roller” function for the trip computer functions. Try this on a rough road – you cannot change the TC specs on the fly, so your speed alarm etc is useless. See, the “roller” scrolls up and down, but it only takes a light press on the roller (like the “enter” key on your keyboard), which makes it hard to navigate on the move. Total crap.

    Thirdly: the interior is just plastic shit. Most Ozzie motor writers complain about the handbrake. They seem to want a smooth leather covered shaft with a nice button at the end. I personally find it OK. The top of the dash is some sort of plastic with tiny square holes, which just gather dust and crap to buggery. Same with the door tops – they are shit to clean.

    Fourthly – mine is a 5 speed auto, which I find OK (you can’t get a Calais level with manual gearbox), but the dead-pedal placement is just crap. Even after 5 months, my clutch foot is sticking up in the air above the dead pedal – Christ, I drove better ergonomically in a slushbox a decade ago!

    Fifthly, fuel consumption of the “high output” V6 absolutely blows chunks around town, and you would hardly notice the difference with the 6.0l V8. On the highway, a totally different story, and I’d easily get 7.5 litres/100 km all the time (31 miles per US gallon).

    Sixthly, the “upmarket” leather/fabric mix is just horrible – the “leather” has to be black rhinosceros skin that has been parched under the desert sun for months, and the best I can say for the “fabric” is that it seems impervious to cigarette burns…

    OK, now onto the good stuff:

    1. This is the best car I have ever owned. The steering was aimed at the exact tactile feel of a 5-series, and they have succeeded.

    2. I have owned several new GM cars in Oz, and invariably you have a list of minor problems a mile long at the first warranty service. This car is the first ever with NO complaints.

    3. Handling and body control whilst getting up it is simply magnificent. It is so good that the “Wife Screech Factor” is minimalised. That alone is worth the entry price.

    4. This car is just bloody fantastic, and it is the first car that I have said to myself “Shit, CasterOil, you don’t REALLY need to have a V8.”

    5. The next model should be “almost” perfect.

    Hope this helps!

  • avatar
    CasterOil

    Jayzus, I had no idea I was one week late to this thread!!!

    Please publish me as a contributor!

  • avatar
    TwoTonic

    Caster-

    No worries, the perspective from a real, live Holden owner is helpful. Although the GTO (aka Monaro) got lukeware reviews here in the States, mainly due to styling issues, by all reports the build quality was quite good and it’s developed a ‘cult’ following amongst tuners and guys looking for alternatives.

    The styling criticism of the new-gen GTO always strikes me as a little misplaced. It’s certainly bland, but people seem to forget the formula Delorean and crew struck in the early 60s– “take a bland RWD family car and stuff lots of power into it”. It’s only in retrospect that the original GTO styling has attained the respect as “a classic”– at the time it was just a vanilla Pontiac with a big motor. Basically what the new GTO is…. The question now is where GM goes next with Pontiac styling, and the answer seems to be “G8″, although most folks here are wishing more of the wild Holden styling had been retained.

  • avatar
    jegjrfan

    TwoTonic-

    I own one of those Holden GTO’s that placed 3rd at the Ames Tri-Power Nationals last August at Summit Motorsports Park. There were 22 newbies at the show as well as the previous year. The new car was also well accepted at the 2006 Rolex Series race at Mid-Ohio with a prominent display in the paddock follwed by a drive around the 2.4 mile 13 turn course before the Daytona Prototypes and GT cars, including the Racer’s Group GTO’s. I am also a member of the Lincoln Highway Pontiac Oakland Club and my car is not out of place there either.

    As for the G8, Tommy Kendall was involved in a Pontiac Test Drive of the G8 that premiered last Saturday at 7PM. I watched that show and also have it saved on my DVR. There is a 2 minute clip from the show at this site:

    http://automotive.speedtv.com/new-models-automotive/

    More episodes will appear on Speed Apr. 26 @ 3PM EDT, May 3 @ 8PM EDT and May 11 @ 12:30PM EDT

  • avatar
    jbstevens

    I’m a fan of cars that handle well and don’t mind feeling a few bumps that come along with a sportier suspension. I’m less motivated by a V8 but I’d need to drive a V6 to get a feel for the power delivery. The positive review of the G8′s handling is what got my attention.

    I’m pretty entertained by the amount of back and forth generated by comparing the Pontiac to BMW. I recently bought a used 3-series and went into the test drive a complete sceptic. I assumed the BMW was yet another car that was more marketing hyperbole than anything else.

    In the end, the handling and solid construction of the car sold me. Before this, I assumed that BMW’s sold solely on snob appeal. I’m sure they sell some cars on that basis but, unfortunately, there may be more of a market for image/status anyway. Can’t say I blame BMW for turning that into a selling point.

    Regardless, I think it speaks well of the Pontiac to be compared to a BMW and I’m like what I’ve seen in this review. If the G8 offers solid handling, is reliable, and well assembled, they may win over some BMW owners that don’t necessarily buy into the whole BMW package.

    I wouldn’t assume this car can’t be compared to a BMW unless it was proven to me in a test drive.

    Thanks for the review Michael.

  • avatar

    I saw my first g8 the other day and I have to say it looks much better than I had expected.

  • avatar
    TJL

    I own both a 2004 GTO and just bought a 2009 G8 GT. Where the GTO is unrefined and loud, the G8 is just the opposite, refined and quiet. Where the GTO has a very firm ride, the G8′s ride is firm/but forgiving ride. To early to assess the G8′s overall performance but the handling is direct with good feedback through the steering wheel. Fit and finish on both cars were better than the majority of cars manufactured in the US (unfortunate but true). The options on the G8 includes On-star, sunroof, 6 speed automatic with manual shift and sport modes, satellite radio etc.. The GTO did not offer any of these options, but it did offer the 6 speed Tremec manual transmission dana rear end and Borsch traction control. I love both cars! My wife does not like the GTO (ride) but loves the G8! Congratulations to GM’s Holden division, keep bringing them from down under, these are great cars that GM can be proud to offer to the consumer.

    TJ

  • avatar
    jegjrfan

    And a G8 took a 1st place trophy in Full Size class P-6 Pontiac 1987 to Current at the recently completed Ames Tri-Power Nationals at Summit Raceway Park in Norwalk, OH.

    http://pontiacnationals.com/CarShowResults.html

  • avatar
    revolver1978

    Thanks Michael for the 6 cylinder review. I’m thinking about one of these as a replacement for my 2003 Mini Cooper S in another year or so. I haven’t taken a test drive or a close look at one yet, but am dissappointed to hear about the downgrade to the interior with the V6.
    An anecdotal comment – a local Pennsylvania used car dealer has no less than 6 G8′s on the lot, all 8 cyl GT’s, all for under 19 grand. Similar story with several dealers in Eastern Ohio. That’s some wicked depreciation – who would by a G8 new?

  • avatar
    hk6900

    Nice car


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