ROAD TEST: 2008 Pontiac G8

March 4th, 2008 at 3:33pm

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Click the above image to see more photos of the Pontiac G8.

For years GM ran itself as a loose collection of separate divisions instead of as a unified, global company. But now they’re finally turning away from this unproductive system so they can improve their efficiency and reduce costs. This strategy of working together is best exemplified by GM’s Australian subsidiary.

Holden is in charge of developing rear-drive passenger cars for the entire corporation, except Cadillac. And it’s impressive to see how they’ve managed the development of products for so many different, global markets.

The new rear-wheel-drive architecture that was developed Down Under is the basis for the Buick Park Avenue that’s sold in China, it underpins models sold in the Middle East and Europe and it’s the foundation of the all-new Pontiac G8. Even more models are rumored to be based off this platform as well, including the Camaro.

We’re finally seeing GM’s strategic plan come together, that is, running the company as one, coordinated entity, rather than as a collection of regional fiefdoms that do their own thing and duplicate a lot of effort. And the proof is in the pudding.

The new Pontiac G8 has all the right ingredients that make a great car. GM started with a tried-and-true recipe for a big, rear-wheel-drive, four-door sedan. Then they garnished it with head-turning style and enough performance to put a smile on anyone’s face.

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Click an above image to see more photos of the Pontiac G8.

3.6-liter V6 The base model G8 comes in at $28,000 and is powered by a 3.6-liter, 256 horsepower V6 that scoots from zero to 60 in a respectable seven seconds. The other engine offered is a 6.0-liter, 361 horsepower V8 that rockets you to a mile a minute in a startling 5.3 seconds. The V6 is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission while the V8 comes with a six-speed auto. The V8 is standard fare in the G8 GT which starts around 30 grand.6.0-liter V8

Fuel mileage for both power-trains is perfectly respectable. The six returns an average of about 21 miles per gallon if you keep your foot out of it while the V8 delivers about 19 thanks in part to GM’s active fuel management which shuts down half the cylinders under light loads. The fuel mileage may seem a little low but keep in mind this is a big, fast sedan and those numbers are very competitive with the competition.

Speaking of competitive, the G8 comes extremely well-equipped and there aren’t many options to choose from. In fact, there are only 78 total build combinations for the car. This means you’re getting a lot of content for the G8’s reasonable sticker price, making it a great value. But even more importantly it’s got what it takes to give driving enthusiasts a reason to put Pontiac on their shopping lists again.

In fact when GM set out to develop the G8’s global, rear-wheel-drive architecture they didn’t mess around. Their performance benchmark was the 5 Series BMW, and in my book, they nailed it.

BMW 5 SeriesFrom a driving dynamics standpoint this platform is the Rock of Gibraltar and it equals or maybe even betters the 5 Series. Now that doesn’t mean owners will start trading in their Bimmers for G8’s. Brand image is an incredibly powerful factor in what people will buy. Some people won’t buy a car, no matter how much they like it, if it has the wrong badge on it — this is especially true on the East and West coasts. But the G8 gives Pontiac instant credibility with hard-core enthusiasts, which goes a long way to reviving the brand.

And bully for GM for doing such an outstanding job with the G8. Actually they’ve been building some really great cars lately; most of their newest products have been highly successful. Cadillac has a major hit with its new CTS. Buick can’t seem to build the Enclave fast enough. And the new Chevy Malibu is flying off dealer lots. There’s little doubt the G8 will be a home run as well.

Officially Pontiac is predicting it will sell 30,000 G8′s per year. But I believe that’s a conservative forecast and people from Pontiac admit they can get more cars if they need them. Just watch, even if they only reach their sales forecast, the G8 is going to prove to a lot of people that Pontiac and indeed General Motors are viable once again.

2 Comments to “ROAD TEST: 2008 Pontiac G8”

  1. Tom Martin Says:

    I believe that the G8 is a great car, but it’s about 3 years late to the party. It should have been released at the same time as the 2005 Chrysler 300 and the 2006 Dodge Charger, which are now struggling.

    The G8 will sell well for a year or two, but when gasoline reaches $5 gallon, and more importantly, when there’s all electric and plugin hybrids that exceed 60 mpg, owning a car that gets 20 mpg will be as popular as owning a Ford Pinto.

  2. Zieke Says:

    Did you really test the car, or are you just building it up? I like Pontiacs and own a 2004 GP w/ the comp G option. My test would include likes and dislikes, handling, comfort, and first impressions. You can get prices, horsepower, and engine sizes anywhere on the internet, espically from Pontiac…