The new Goat has been a dog so far, as sales of the Holden-sourced Pontiac GTO are running at less than half of expectations. Most people chalk that up to its yawn-‘n’-stretch styling and too-high-for-punks price, but maybe this car just has the wrong name. Real GTOs sacrifice civility to the gods of V-8 hooliganism. This one is refined and quiet, and it handles well. No wonder the old-GTO crowd hasn’t warmed up to this thing-it won’t cause tinnitus and renal failure.
Whatever it’s called and however it does its business, for 2005, the GTO gets 50 additional horses and 35 more pound-feet of torque-two things it probably didn’t need but certainly won’t mind having-by switching from GM’s 5.7-liter LS1 to the 6.0-liter LS2. It also gains beefier brakes, a revised tail with new dual exhausts, two nostril scoops, and a dead pedal.
The (much-needed) traction control system has been smoothed out as well, to the point where it’s almost invisible. You’re just hammering along, minding your own business, and then suddenly you’re not going so fast anymore. So you turn off the traction control and start smoking the tires instead, which slows you down even more but at least is antisocial. Four hundred horses is an awfully big herd to stampede through two tires, so this may be as good as it gets. The Aussies soon will get an all-wheel-drive version, but we won’t.
An estimated price in the mid-$30,000s (a bit more than last year) won’t help the affordability issue. But you do get good materials (plenty of leather and, wonder of wonders, no plastic sill plates), power everything, a fancy stereo, seventeen-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, and an exotic-car power-to-weight ratio of about 9.4 pounds per horsepower. Sad to say, but if Pontiac put some ridiculous “Judge” stickers on it, made it less pleasant to drive, and added a big stupid wing, it might even sell some.