If one were to choose a feature film that best describes General Motors' Pontiac
Division today, the 1983 flick "Back to the Future" staring Michael J. Fox may end up as the automotive critics' choice.
For three post World War II decades, Pontiac
was recognized as GM's performance division. True to its slogan, Pontiac
"Built Excitement." Names like GTO, LeMans and Bonneville drove power-minded clientele to Pontiac
dealers through the 1960s and 1970s. While GM's marketing department never seriously tinkered with Pontiac
's brand image, some production efforts were less than exciting during the last couple of decades. The Korean-built 1980s LeMans was a far cry from the 1960's muscle car sporting the same name while the Transport Minivan of the 1990s did little to generate even a caffeine buzz. And Aztek? It was the butt of all-to-many jokes, lasting one model generation (although Aztek owners are a fiercely loyal to their beleaguered SUV).
John Larson, General Manager of the Pontiac
Division from 2004-2007 recognized this excitement under sight, discharging the minivan and Aztek from the Pontiac
lineup and green lighting products matching the marketing strength of Pontiac
. The 2009 rear-drive G8
is one such product.
A big performance sedan, available with V-6 or V-8 motivation, it's for those who enjoy power and superior handling over a luxury-intending car. The rear-drive G8
(no all-wheel edition is sold) is now the performance flagship at Pontiac
and its largest sedan. Starting under $30,000, the full-size G8
provides more interior room than most rivals from Germany or Japan. It's built off General Motors new, well-received global rear-drive platform.
During its first available model year in 2008, two trim levels were available, each defined by its engine. The Base G8
came with a 3.6-liter V-6 generating 256 horses while the G8
GT trim sported the potent 6.0-liter V-8 muscling horsepower to 361. The V-6 engine gets mated to a five-speed automatic transmission while the workhorse V-8s team with a six-speed automatic. Premium fuel is recommended for optimal performance, but not required as the engine's computer can calibrate to accommodate regular, 87-octane fuel. If the budget allows, opt for the fun and economical V-8. Now that the 2009 model year has rolled around, Pontiac
adds a G8
GXP trim (with a 6.2-liter V-8) with an optional six-speed manual transmission. Other than the new GXP trim, not much changes from 2008 to 2009.
Our test drive 2009 G8
GT's V8 engine sported the fuel-saving active fuel management, which is General Motors' internal lingo for cylinder deactivation. At highway speeds, four of the eight cylinders seamlessly shut down to conserve gasoline; a great advancement that works as advertised. Highway fuel estimates check in at 24 miles per gallon, a few miles better than a other V8 powertrain without this technology. City fuel economy doesn't benefit as much from Active Fuel Management and checks in at 15 mpg.
Pricewise, our test-drive G8
GT checked in at $30,675. Options included a Premium Package (leather seating surfaces, heated power front seats) and 18-inch all-season tires. The bottom line with $685 destination charge rose to $32,760. A 2009 six-cylinder edition starts at $27,310.
Inside, cloth seating comes standard while leather surfaces are optional. Cruise control functions are found on the turn signal stalk. In between the front bucket seats are side-by side beverage holders, parking brake, automatic transmission shifter power windows and power side mirror controls. Additional beverage holders are molded into the side front doors. The flat instrument panel incorporates two large analog gauges flanked by two smaller ones and a center digital window. Pontiac
retains is sporty-looking instrument panel/dashboard red backlighting when the sun drops down. Dual zone ventilation functions include two dials monitoring temperature with buttons controlling fan speed and direction. All are below the sound system (with standard XM Satellite Radio) and monitor window in the center stack. The good-sized glove box features a bi-level design. Large side and rear windows reduce blind spots, so drivers have good views in all directions