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13.7 @ 104 Full Test: 2008 Pontiac G8 GT

This is a discussion on 13.7 @ 104 Full Test: 2008 Pontiac G8 GT within the GTO forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category;* Pontiac Reinvents Itself The conversation went something like this: "Hey, Steve, come by with the Bee. Let's see how ...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    1998 Z28

    13.7 @ 104 Full Test: 2008 Pontiac G8 GT*

    Pontiac Reinvents Itself

    The conversation went something like this: "Hey, Steve, come by with the Bee. Let's see how it stacks up against this 2008 Pontiac G8 GT."

    Motorhead Steve lives up the street. His dad was a Dodge dealer back in the 1960s. The guy knows option codes from the muscle car era like they're his kids' names and has a tattoo on his left forearm that reads "Mopar is Mom." More important, he just bought himself a screaming yellow 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee. We knew he wouldn't hesitate.

    Declining Numbers at an Even Rate

    Honestly, we didn't think we had a chance. The 2008 Pontiac G8 GT is powered by a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 361 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Steve's Mopar, a virtual twin to the one we tested a few months ago, is packing a 6.1-liter V8 pumping 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.

    We clicked off the Pontiac's traction control with the clearly marked button ahead of its shifter and brake-torqued the big V8 to 2,000 rpm. To our right we could hear Steve do the same. On the count of three we went for it.

    Both cars left clean, with just a turn or two of tire slip. Then Steve pulled a fender on us. No surprise considering his Bee's torque advantage. But that's all he had. Past 60 mph the Mopar was still just a fender ahead. The Pontiac's six-speed automatic clicked off clean, crisp gearchanges just before its 6,000-rpm rev limiter, and kept pace with that Charger well past 100 mph.

    We raced again. And again. And again. It was like a scene out of Woodward Avenue circa 1969, only we were in sedans, with sunroofs and heated seats, on a deserted, burned-out industrial section of downtown Los Angeles. Every race was a carbon copy of the first.

    We lost. But not by much.

    Steve wasn't happy. His Mopar had more power, louder paint and many more stickers than the G8 GT. It also costs more than the Pontiac, which carries a base price of $29,995 and tops out at $32,745 with our red car's sunroof, leather and big wheel and tire option. No, Steve wasn't happy at all.

    Let's Do the Math

    Doug Houlihan, GM's global vehicle chief engineer based in Melbourne, Australia, told us his car should run from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 101 mph.

    Seemed about right. The Super Bee we tested ran to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 106 mph. We hadn't tested this red 2008 Pontiac G8 GT yet, but Steve's Bee had us by a fender at 60 mph and 105 mph.

    The next morning at our test track, the G8 GT ran as expected, perfectly splitting Houlihan's numbers and the Bee's previous performance. The Pontiac launches to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 104 mph.

    "How's that?" you ask. "The Mopar packs so much more muscle under its hood. Why doesn't it smoke the Pontiac?"

    Honestly, we're not really sure. At first we figured the Pontiac was just lighter. It sure feels that way from behind the wheel. But it isn't. At 4,106 pounds, the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT weighs only 56 pounds fewer than that Bee we tested. Transmission? Maybe. The Pontiac's six-speed automatic is an absolute performance advantage over the Bee's sluggish five-speed. We also have to consider the Mopar's heavy 20-inch rims and rubber, which don't do it any favors on the dragstrip. The Pontiac's optional 19-inch wheels and summer tires are certainly lighter, which makes it easier for the car to accelerate. These things matter, but don't fully explain how the G8 keeps up. Or why the Bee isn't quicker.

    Plus the Pontiac has more gear in it. The rear-wheel-drive G8 GT manages this miracle with a 2.92:1 rear axle ratio. At 80 mph in top gear, its tach reads a lazy 2,000 rpm. Put some shorter gears in this sedan and Steve would've been looking up the G8's four exhaust pipes.

    Think down the road, and the G8 GT should run with the Challenger SRT8, which shares its drivetrain and platform with the Super Bee SRT8. And the Camaro SS, which is based on the G8's underpinnings, should have no problem keeping up with the Challenger.

    More Than Just Thrust

    And when the road turns, things get even better. All G8s, V6- or V8-powered, get the same suspension tuning. GM calls the setup FE2, and it delivers a ride and handling compromise that falls just short of perfect.

    With our test car's optional 245/40R19 Bridgestone RE050A tires providing the grip, this big, heavy sedan is fast on a mountain road. Very fast. But it also rides right, with proper compliance, buttoned-down body motions and a tight overall feel. The one misstep is a rear suspension that can feel a tick underdamped over some surfaces, especially when the G8's huge 19.2-gallon fuel tank is full.

    With that tank topped off with premium (GM recommends regular but says premium maximizes performance), our scales say 51.4 percent of the G8's weight is carried by its front tires. Pontiac says that evens out to a 50/50 split when there's a driver and a passenger aboard. We flogged it with an empty right seat and found the G8's balance to be ideal. There's good turn-in, slight understeer at the limit and power oversteer when you want it.

    Even with its standard stability control off, the G8 GT is fast, stable and just plain fun to toss around. So there may be a bit more body roll than there should be, and the steering wheel feels a bit large at first, but neither gets in the way of the fun or the pace. We also have to thank Pontiac for the G8's soft rev limiter and the rev-matching downshifts of the six-speed automatic. Together they add to the G8's lick on a mountain road but not necessarily in our handling tests.

    At the test track, the G8 GT circles our skid pad at 0.85g and zips though our slalom course at over 65 mph. These numbers are behind smaller cars like the BMW 335i and the Infiniti G35 S, but all but match the performance of the Dodge Charger SRT8 and the last BMW 535i we tested.

    The G8 GT's four-wheel disc brakes are also worthy. They help produce a stopping distance from 60 mph of just 109 feet with excellent fade resistance, and they can hang with the best from Germany. But they're also activated by a soft pedal that provides little feel. It's the one real dynamic flaw in an otherwise impressive package.

    No Sunfire Required

    Unlike the most recent GTO, the Solstice or the laughable Grand Prix GXP, the G8 GT feels like a fully finished automobile. This is a car that's actually ready for public consumption. The entire public. No double-wide trailer or Sunfire ownership required.

    This time Pontiac's engineers cared how their car felt, not just how it performed. For the first time in a long time, they decided to sweat the details. And the result is a Pontiac without any goofy missteps, colossal blunders or overtones of trailer-park style. They even resisted the temptation to put a big silly wing on it, leaving the G8's two hood scoops and four real exhaust pipes to state its case.

    Restraint also found its way to the G8's interior. When you consider its well-shaped seats, simple white-on-black gauges and three-knob climate controls, it's clear that Pontiac's designers didn't take any unnecessary risks. Instead they built an honest, interesting interior that doesn't try too hard. Even our test car's optional red-on-black interior fails to feel overdone.

    Pontiac obviously looked to Audi for the overall look and layout of the interior, and the results are a real argument for such acceptable plagiarism. Tactile feel is high and the interior's simple layout works. The driving position is also spot-on thanks to a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a height-adjustable driver seat.

    No, it's not perfect. There's no redline on the tach, in manual mode the shifter is still pushed to upshift and pulled to downshift (only BMW and Mazda get this right), and those digital gauges on the center stack must have been borrowed from a 1982 Datsun Z. The exhaust is also just too damn quiet. Yet forgivable all. These are just misdemeanors from a car company with a long list of felony offenses.

    Rear seat room is also worth mentioning. You can play volleyball back there. And the trunk? Huge: 19.4 cubic feet.

    Better Than the 6000 STE

    And so we're smitten. Won over. The Australian-built 2008 Pontiac G8 GT is the best Pontiac since John Z. invented the GTO. No, not that GTO. The first GTO in 1964. You know, the one Ronny and the Daytonas immortalized in song. The one that started the whole muscle car thing. The Tiger.

    No, we're not kidding.

    The G8 GT is better than the 6000 STE, the Bonneville SSEi, the Grand Prix GTP, the G6 GXP and the Aztek UGLY. It even makes the Solstice feel like a half-ass effort. When it hits dealers in early March, the 40,000 examples of the G8 being shipped in from Down Under will reinvent Pontiac along the way.

    I buy cats....
    WTB - $145 for catalytic converters , cats $$$$

  2. #2
    Senior Member slims00ls1z28's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    2005 GTO M6 Black
    2000 Z28 A4 Red

    Quote Originally Posted by 2003Firehawk View Post
    Lol almost spewed dew all over my monitor!

    can't wait to test drive one.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    san diego

    01 ws6

    soon as they hit the dealer im driving one !

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