2009 Pontiac G8 V-6

David Gluckman
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Hard plastics make it possible

The good looks extend into the G8's cabin, with its European-style instrument cluster and center stack. The front seats are well bolstered, supportive, and comfortable, and there's plenty of room front and rear. While its design is generally handsome, the interior is a strange mix of attractive soft materials and harsh, unfinished-looking plastics. Fit and finish are not strong points of the G8's cabin - our test car was already exhibiting squeaks and rattles in the dash, and a gap between two panels on the center console was wide enough to expose the underlying metal structure. (Again, Holden has been building this same basic car for three years now. We'd expect the kinks to have been worked out.) Ergonomics are a mixed bag; controls are well placed for the most part, although the cruise-control stalk is nearly hidden by the steering wheel and it's very difficult to get at the seat adjustments with the door closed due to a small tray next to the seat that gets in the way. Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are a welcome standard feature, but the thumb wheels lack positive feedback making it hard to effect precise changes. Two different stereo packages are available, though a navigation unit is noticeably absent from the options list.

Powertrain

One thing we noticed upon popping the hood of this G8 is that the engine actually looks like an engine. While most engine bays these days are a sea of black plastic shrouds, only broken up by idiot-proof, color-coded fluid filler necks, the V-6 G8 has a good ol' metal intake plenum visible atop the engine. Okay, so the brightly colored fillers remain, but isn't it refreshing to at least get a glimpse of where the ponies reside? The engine makes 256 of them and 248 lb-ft of torque with the help of variable valve timing. We were never wanting for power, which isn't to say the GT's extra 100-plus horsepower would have gone unused. The engine has a good amount of intake noise that is sometimes pleasant, but can get annoying when holding high revs.

The only transmission offered with the V-6 is a five-speed automatic that offers a shift-it-yourself function as well as a Sport mode and blips the throttle on downshifts. When Sport is engaged, the gearbox isn't shy about holding a gear for a tick or two, but conversely will grab the highest gear once your right foot has settled down to improve fuel economy.

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