The G8 really does resonate as a half price BMW 5-Series. The 361-hp V-8 provides strong low-end acceleration. It rides beautifully. Steering and stability are very good and on center.
I like that the six-speed automatic will hold gears without special manipulation in manumatic mode. The transmission did not misbehave during my time with it except for some minor chugging at times with the torque converter locked and unlocked. I think there are, however, calibration issues related to how this driveline handles fluid temps during hard driving.
The interior is slightly archaic, with most of the switchgear located on the center console or stack. Indeed, confusing controls are this car’s most serious flaw. It took a serious search to find and operate the car’s fuel economy meter, and many radio stations presets were lost during this endeavor. There’s also no hand space between the seat and the door to adjust the drivers seat settings. Finally, the upper center stack used for a shelf seems wasteful. It does have a nice steering wheel and gauge cluster, save for the lack of redline marking.
Overall, the G8 is a strong, fast, enjoyable car for the money. It’s also handsome. But the Pontiac brand has no prestige, and your neighbor will not be impressed by your purchase of a G8.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
After my first drive in the new G8, I’m impressed but not astounded. The extremely comfortable Pontiac is a very good car that offers lots of practicality and rear-wheel-drive fun for the money. The 6.0-liter V-8 offers prodigious power and tons of torque, but the lurchy automatic transmission behaves like a bad automated manual.
I commend GM for adapting its Australian Holden Commodore for North American duty, and I can’t wait to drive the 2010 Camaro with the same genes. Still, the G8’s packaging is a bit of a letdown (not enough people/stuff room for such a big car), road noise is somewhat distracting at highway speeds, and the funky Aussie controls require a bit or extra familiarization (which shouldn’t dissuade potential owners).
Once the G8amino, sorry, ST, reaches Ann Arbor, though, I may have a more difficult time restraining my enthusiasm.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The G8 is an impressive car for the money, but it’s let down by a slow, easily confused transmission and a slightly floaty ride on the back roads. The interior is decent for the money but there are some seriously cheap details like the handbrake and some secondary plastics.
I was pretty impressed with the steering and overall chassis feel.
The G8 needs polishing, but I like it. I can’t wait to drive the manual GXP version. GM should also consider putting in a ZF six-speed automatic. It would transform the car.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
Very nicely trimmed. Something about the very tight fits gives you an impression of solidity and reliability – certainly a new feeling for GM in general.
The engine sounds fabulous, giving off a good throaty roar. The V-8 has a good punch, but acceleration after hard braking gets confused. There’s a bit of hesitation. The steering is pretty heavy at low speed but feels very connected and has good weight once you get going.
Overall, my feeling is: for about $32,000, this is a handsome, useful, spacious, and fun car. A lot of care was taken in the interior, which makes you feel smart (and patriotic).
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
The G8 is a really well sorted, engaging sport sedan. We’ve covered this car extensively, identifying it as a cut-rate, highly entertaining version of the BMW 5-series, and I think our analyses have been appropriate.
It really goes down the road nicely. The steering is accurate if a little dead in the hands at times. Lots of grip, good body control, and strong brakes with linear pedal feel make this car a confident companion on back roads.
The engine sounds great, and I have no complaints with the automatic transmission. I note, but do not decry, the lack of paddles for shifting. I never use the damn things anyway. The interior is a little too somber, but the materials are tasteful.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Dynamically brilliant; materially flawed. Although the engine sounds marvelous and pulls like a freighter, the transmission was easily confused in manual mode (and later decided to shun first gear completely). The structure wasn’t as strong as it could be, as I experienced some scuttle shake. Ergonomics appear to be from the 1990s with dated red displays, and the smell of the cheap plastics gave me a headache.
Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor
Things I Wrote in My Notebook About the Pontiac G8’s Stereo Before I Realized That the Fader Was Set All the Way to the Front:
- The G8’s stereo is so bad, if an ice-cream man used it to play his jingle, he’d be arrested for child abuse.
- Didn’t Blaupunkt go out of business in 1984?
- Here are some audio components that have more power than the G8’s door speakers: Hearing aids. Audio greeting cards. Teddy Ruxpin. A Speak ‘N’ Spell. The McDonald’s drive-through speaker. Two cans connected with string. Two cans connected with nothing.
- The last time a speaker sounded this tinny and artificial, it was producing the voice of Thomas Edison saying “Watson, come here!”
- This might fly in Australia, but in the U.S.A. we expect more from our stereos. Here, stereos have names like Shaker 1000 and Monsoon. That’s right, we need to appropriate the names of natural disasters to describe the power of our stereos. If the G8’s stereo was named for weather phenomena, it’s be called the Partly Cloudy. Or maybe Steady Drizzle. Actually, scratch that: steady drizzle might make a pleasant noise.
- This stereo has so little bass, it makes Barry White sound like Bindi Erwin. Bindi Erwin being chased by dingoes. Did I mention that this stereo is an embarrassment to Australia on the level of Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles? Because it is.
Ezra Dyer, Contributing Writer
Base price (with destination): $31,360
Price as tested: $32,760
Fuel Economy: 15/24 (city/hwy)
Size: 6.0 ohv V-8
HP: 361 hp @ 5300 rpm
Torque: 385 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 3995 lbs (manufacturer)