By on November 2, 2004

A rare (but beautiful) shot of the G6's Gallic derriere Pontiac's ads proudly proclaim that their latest sports sedan is "the first ever G6"– as if the company somehow beat its competitors to build a G6. Which is what exactly? A car that gets 100 miles per gallon? Brings peace to the Middle East? Self-replicates? We all know the G6's REAL claim to fame: it's the first automobile personally bestowed upon every member of a studio audience by a chat show Queen, under false pretences. (Pontiac provided the vehicles, Oprah took the credit, recipients didn't like the taxes.) Otherwise, the G6 is a standard sort of car.

Come to think of it, that IS a major breakthrough. Pontiac has been making sub-standard cars for decades: front-wheel-drive machines with asthmatic engines, no handling and even less build quality. [NB: The new GTO is an Australian import.] The idea that GM's nominal performance division could create a machine that can hold its own in a class filled with talented, well-established Japanese contenders is about as credible as cold fusion. And yet, here it is.

Funereal can be fun!   Or so says Pontiac.This remarkable achievement is wrapped in an unremarkable package, which, again, is remarkable. Pontiac's current lineup is suffused with some of the most hideous cars to ever foul public pavement, including the inter-galactically execrable Aztek SUV. The G6's design may lack anything resembling panache, style or élan, but at least it doesn't make you want to run and hide. It's a distinctly Honda-esque shape, with a single striking characteristic: a "butt in the air" stance familiar to fans of French cars.

For some reason, Pontiac is embarrassed by the G6's Gallic posture; the website's photo gallery doesn't include a single rear end shot and the 360 tour whizzes past the angle at multiple kbps. In a move that rivals the Wizard of Oz' admonition to "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain", the site advises potential customers to view the G6 "from the inside out".

GM's venerable 3500 3.5L V-6 (LX9), currently on duty in the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac G6 Sedan, Pontiac Montana, Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza.If so, Pontiac better hope that black is the new black. Aside from the silver bezels surrounding the main dials, the G6's interior is unrelentingly funereal. The HVAC and audio knobs offer common sense command and precision tactility (albeit without anything as sophisticated as climate control), but the tiny LED display is positively Vampiric in its aversion to bright sunlight. Like Nosferatu, the G6 is a night creature, best experienced when the backlit instruments' red glow gives the cabin a jet cockpit's sense of purpose.

Despite its rakish roofline, the G6' black hole will swallow five adults, provided the rear passengers are less than six feet tall and narrow of beam. (Kids ride free.) Ironically enough, the extra-commodious-for-its-class car's coolest feature operates when the cabin is empty. Press the remote start button on the key fob (which only operates after the car is locked) and you avoid both mafia-style assassination and the physical discomforts inflicted by environmental extremes. Unlock, pop the key in the slot, and you're ready to rock.

The G6 GT is a frisky not-so-little car for the moneyMake that rock lite. Pontiac endowed my first ever G6 with their umpteen millionth 3.5-liter V6. The General's venerable 200hp pushrod powerplant is a big step up from the base model's four-cylinder snoozer, but military pilots driving the car won't be left wishing they'd packed their G-suits. The sedan's laconic four-speed autobox doesn't help matters. The mileage-seeking shifter is reluctant to approach max power's neighborhood (5400rpms). You can thrash the G6 GT by snicking the shift lever sideways and tipping the gears manually, but that leaves you longing for a slick stick…

Still, any proper four-seater that can zip from zip to sixty in 7.2 seconds isn't exactly slow. And major props go to GM's boffins for dialing-out [most of] the torque steer that keeps other front-wheel-drive Pontiac products from sprinting from A to B without fishtailing to C. There's a bit of squirm when you plant your right foot, but it's nothing to get excited about.

The G6's handling is also more-than-merely-adequate, without straying into the realm of genuine exhilaration. Like its platform partners, the Saab 9-3 and Chevy Malibu, the G6's suspension sports gas struts up front and a four-link independent set-up in the rear. The result is a city-compliant ride with just enough body control to make spirited progress possible, if not particularly enticing– especially if you fancy a bit of at-the-limit oversteer. Even a Hollywood stunt driver would need a judiciously placed oil slick to induce a sideways smile.

Given its Euro-style design, dour cabin and semi-spicy performance, it's hard to imagine for whom the G6 rolls. At $27k "before incentives", the G6 may find a home with tuner-types, or frisky slackers, or someone who just wants an affordable mid-sized sedan. In any event, the G6 is the first ever budget Pontiac pistonheads should honestly consider renting– I mean, buying.

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10 Comments on “Pontiac G6 GT Review...”

  • avatar

    dont you mean $17K for the pricing on that last paragraph…?

  • avatar

    Any chance of a review of the 2007 model? I am really looking into buying this car but finding truthful reviews on the internet is getting tough. I’ll check this space from time to time. Thanks!

  • avatar

    Please explain. I test-drove a ’98 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP — or whatever the highest-end performance package is — and it kicked serious a…well, you know what I was about to type, and it wasn’t “asthmatic.” Oh, and the interior was pretty nice, too. In fact, I’d say — actually, I *am* saying — to call a Grand Prix a miscarriage, let alone label alongside the abominable Aztec as a “stillborn,” makes no sense at all.

  • avatar

    Lutz has been doing as much as any man can to make the General’s “excitement” division live up to the name. I see the G6 as the first step in the right direction. Yes, the uninspiring 3.5 V-6 and the antiquated 4-speed automatic are hardly convincing. However, the chassis, interior, exterior, and build quality are all dramatically improved from the Grand Am. Future updated powertrain options would prove that Pontiac intends to climb its way out of mediocrity.

    Let us only hope that Pontiac continues to proliferate these improvements to other models. Perhaps a rear-drive fastback with direct-injection V6 and a 6-speed manual?

  • avatar

    When I was waiting on a customer for this car she told me her husband works for Rolls Royce as an engineer. He told her the engineering of this car is excellent and just as good as the Accord. He said she was permitted to buy either one. The pricing was about 300.00 different from one another. She got the Accord because she didn’t want a car so “Sporty Looking”. Why do you guys bash it so, when an engineer of Rolls Royce says it is excellent?

  • avatar

    This is a fairly favorable review so what bashing are you referring to?

  • avatar

    It just seemed the way they wrote the article, it read as if it always had a negative conotation along with it.

  • avatar

    For what its worth, her husband was probably an engineer for the aircraft power division.

  • avatar

    $27,000????!!! Are you kidding? For a Chevy Citation? How much do you save by getting the stick shift? What? No stick shift?

    You get an HD Radio, though, don’t you? What? No?

    The excitement comes at the end of the month when the car payment bill arrives.

  • avatar


    This is a little inaccurate. I own a 2008 Pontiac G6 GT Coupe, and I must say it does kind of put my 2009 Mazda 6 to shame. Yeah, I’ve got one of those too. Which I guess would fall into your category of ‘well-established Japanese contenders.’

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