Pontiac's G8 sedan has been getting a lot of love from the automotive press, especially when you consider that it's a rebadged version of a car that's been in production since 2006. But most of the hype surrounding the Adelaide-made G8 has focused on the V-8-powered GT model. Indeed, that attention bias has been validated by the fact that three in five G8 buyers opt for the gutsier version. After all, what better way to enjoy a solid rear-wheel-drive platform than with a powerful eight-cylinder at the beck and call of your right foot?
Going into 2009 another V-8 will attempt to steal the spotlight, this time in the new GXP model packing a 402-hp 6.2-liter small block. In the interest of going against the automotive grain, we took a base G8 for a spin to see how it stacks up against other big V-6 sedans. Boring? We'll see.
If looks could thrill
Pontiac has done very little to visually differentiate the three G8 trim levels, so buyers of the six-cylinder G8 will happily note that their cars have most of the show of the V-8-powered models, even if the 3.6-liter engine provides a good deal less go. We like the aggressive front-end treatment, although the faux ram-air hood nostrils may be a bit much, especially on the V-6 model. The car has a decidedly Pontiac, wide stance - despite the fact that it started life as a Holden - and looks the part of a muscle sedan. The V-6 model loses the GT's odd, chrome-accented door handles in favor of body-color pieces that we think look better. Both the V-6 and the GT get the same standard 18-inch wheels, though the base car's have black center caps that cheapen the look. (Nineteen-inch wheels are optional on the GT and standard on the new-for-2009 GXP.) A different taillight design, a dual- instead quad-outlet exhaust, and the lack of a GT badge are clues at the rear that you're looking at a V-6 G8.