Driving the New Pontiac G8 GT

pontiac-g8-gt-2009

The 2009 Pontiac G8 GT. (Photo: Pontiac.com)

Car Talk
By Jonathan R. Pitman

Everyone is on pins and needles debating over the fate of General Motor’s future. But, if Pontiac is indeed one of the car companys that will be omitted from the lineup, then it should go out with a bang. That’s just what Pontiac is doing with the release of the new Pontiac G8 GT. The performance aspect of this vehicle is very impressive. It boasts a powerful 6.0 Liter engine with 361 horsepower and comes equipped with a 6- speed automatic transmission that features a driver shift control and sport mode, allowing the driver to shift gears freely with little effort.

With all of that power, you would think the fuel economy would be not so great. But, the G8 GT receives a respectable 24 MPG highway, which is better than what I had expected. This test car reached 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. Out of all the vehicles I have driven, the Pontiac G8 GT had the most impressive 0-60 time. As a matter of fact, I did not have to put the accelerator to the floor to get it going. However, one flaw to this vehicle is it has rear wheel drive instead of front wheel drive or AWD. That means in the winter, it might pose a problem because the traction is not directed to the front wheels or all of the wheels. That also means in slippery conditions it may be difficult to handle.

On a bright sunny spring day however, the car handled well and the steering was responsive, thanks to the rack and pinion steering and tuned suspension. Something else worth noting is the braking capabilities. This car stopped on a dime thanks to the massive 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. In normal driving situations, it passed vehicles with ease and maneuvered well in general.

Let’s take a trip to the interior of this sporty vehicle. It was designed with careful attention to detail. The gauges were easy to read and showed an amazing 180 mph read out. My guess is that without the govern limit this bad boy could easily reach 140 MPH. Of course, I would not recommend that you attempt that test unless you are on a track somewhere — or work for NASCAR.

Other features include dual climate control settings, which allow the front driver and front passenger to adjust their own settings for comfort. Consumers will also be pleased to know that heated leather seats in the front are standard on the GT. However, the front seats are not cooled, which some other car manufacturers offer as an option. The leather wrapped steering wheel was very comfortable.

One negative thing about the interior is the controls on the steering wheel were hard to operate and were somewhat confusing. I am referring to the controls that are associated with the operation of the radio, not cruise control. Another issue dealt with the rear headroom. I found that when you sit in the back, head room was lacking. A person taller than 6’3” would have a tough time.

Another impressive amenity is the audio system, which comes standard with a 6-disc CD changer. But, the G8 GT kicked it up a notch with the Blaupunkt premium audio system complete with 11 speakers and a 230 Watt amp and subwoofers. I can tell you this system is so clear and the bass so deep that it would take the hinges right off of the trunk.

The power windows are in a different place, and that’s a good thing. Instead of the widow mechanisms being placed on the front doors, they are situated in the middle console for easier access. However, in the rear the widow controls are on the doors. Something else worth noting is the rear legroom. There was enough room to stretch your legs. Overall, the front and rear seats were very comfortable. The front driver and front passenger seats featured a 4-way power adjustable seat.

The exterior was just as refined as the interior. It featured bold lines and aerodynamic styling that was very appealing. One feature that stood out on the GT model was the hood scoops giving it that sporty feel and muscular look. It also featured a rear spoiler and dual exhaust. Other standard features were 18-inch aluminum wheels, silver peddles, tinted glass and more.

As far as safety, the G8 GT is equipped with OnStar, dual front airbags, side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system that alerts you when the tire pressure is low. ABS is also standard, as is brake assist. Other safety packages include traction control and stabilitrac.

Overall, I rate this car a B+.