2008 Pontiac G8 Sports Sedan
One of our top three significant Chicago debuts. These days, GM seems to draw all the answers to its problems from its overseas divisions (Saturn's Opel-derived revival being the most obvious). Pontiac's G8 comes from GM's Australian Holden division, a company known for hugely entertaining, old-school V-8-powered, rear-wheel drive sedans. The G8 rides on GM's new Zeta/Universal Rear Wheel Drive architecture--the same platform that will underpin the 2009 Camaro--and it's significant because it represents a Pontiac that an enthusiast might actually want to own. (Yes, we know the Holden-derived last-generation GTO was a good car, but it's also no longer here.) It's a modern, attractive, intriguing pile of haul-ass machine, topped off with a threateningly large V-8 and a storied American badge. In other words, it's exactly what Detroit should be building.
The base car gets GM's 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 (261 hp) with a five-speed automatic; the GT has a 6.0-liter OHV V-8 (362 hp, 391 lb-ft) with a six-speed automatic or, shortly after launch, a six-speed stick. The chassis features four disc brakes, an independent rear suspension, and standard stability control.
Despite its beefy, square-shouldered appearance, the G8 is not as large in person as the pictures you see here would indicate. In fact, the new G8 is actually smaller (but a bit heavier) than the outgoing Grand Prix, and substantially smaller than its main rear-drive competition: the Dodge Charger. The Pontiac gives up about 4 inches in overall body length and almost 6 inches in wheelbase to the Dodge--a difference that could have a detrimental effect on ride quality.
The twenty-one-inch wheels, lowered ride height, painted brake calipers, and leather-covered dash on the Chicago Show car are not production-spec, but otherwise, this G8 is what we'll see when the car goes on sale early next year.