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Edmunds Tests G8 GXP

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G8 GXP Edmunds Test Link

Corvette Power, Mad Max Mojo

By Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing Email | Blog

Date posted: 11-20-2008

About 19 months ago, we sent operatives with a briefcase bristling with test equipment to Australia. The mission: Get an early peek at the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT by test-driving its stablemate, the then-new 2007 Holden Commodore SS.

The residual jet lag was magically wiped away by the Commodore SS's thrilling combination of rear-wheel drive, independent rear suspension, a six-speed manual transmission and a 6.0-liter V8. Or maybe it was the Mad Max flashbacks and the Vegemite.

Yet even though we loved the 2008 Pontiac G8 when it hit the streets in the U.S. eight months ago, we knew that the Aussie mojo from the Commodore SS hadn't made the trip from the Land of Oz.

Turns out that Pontiac was holding a few aces up its sleeve, and now the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP puts them all on the table.

The Most Powerful Production Pontiac...Ever?

Ace No. 1 is the 2009 Pontiac GXP's LS3 V8, the base engine found under the hood of the 2008 Corvette. Displacing 6.2 liters (376 cubic inches), the G8 GXP version makes 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, some 54 hp and 30 lb-ft more than the G8 GT's V8 engine.

The 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP is the most powerful production Pontiac built to date. Really.

You could argue that the 1970 Pontiac Trans Am could be equipped with a 400-cubic-inch Ram Air V, which was rated at 500 hp. But this special-order engine was a dealer-installed item, and it would never withstand a grocery run on 91 octane gasoline or live long enough to meet a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and hooking one up for a 2008 smog test would be, um, futile.

Moreover, the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP's 415-hp rating is certified as an SAE net output, which means it was produced under tightly controlled test procedures that include the presence of an independent observer.

Twisting the key brings this engine to life with a burbling idle that the 6.0-liter V8 of our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT long-term test car can't match. There's plenty of life under the throttle pedal, as the GXP responds with the kind of healthy shove to the backside you'd get if someone put a sign on the back of your jacket that said, "Kick me."

The exhaust note that comes from the GXP's low-restriction exhaust system contains just enough of that high-school rock-and-roll soundtrack to make us want to stand on the power pedal whenever possible, yet it's not offensive enough that the old guy down the street will shake his cane at us. And did we mention the off-throttle burble?

But there is a dark side. The GXP's fuel consumption figures are expected to settle near those of the ZR1 Corvette, which are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Plus the Corvette gets slapped with a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax, so it's likely the GXP will, too.

Shift Change

When it comes time to grab the next gear, we actually can. Ace No. 2 in Pontiac's program for the GXP is the same Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission we experienced in the Holden Commodore SS. Except here the shift lever is under our right hand, where it belongs.

There is one little catch, however. In a reversal of usual practice, the same Hydra-matic six-speed automatic found in our G8 GT is the GXP's standard offering. You have to fork over $695 extra to get the six-speed manual.

At least it's a good one. The lever action is sure and the gates are well-defined. And having full command of the transmission makes the LS3 much more of a willing partner, especially when corners are thrown into the mix.

We're not as convinced about the clutch, however. The engagement point is easy enough to detect, but the pedal effort is too light. The Luk single-disc clutch and single-mass flywheel are the same found in the bell housing of the 361-hp Holden Commodore SS, but we're assured there's more than enough capacity to deal with the LS3.

The same limited-slip rear end found in the G8 GT and Commodore SS is fitted to the GXP, but with a couple of important changes. The GXP's final-drive ratio is shorter, as the Holden's 3.45:1 rear end is changed to 3.70 here when the manual transmission is in place. The automatic variant enjoys a 3.27 rear end instead of the G8 GT's 2.92 gears. And the GXP's ring-and-pinion gears are shot-peened and phosphate-coated for enhanced wear and durability, something that can't be said of the rear ends of some other high-output cars.

Rubber Meets the Track

Our instrumented acceleration test runs peg the performance of the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP with its six-speed manual transmission at 5.2 seconds to 60 mph (4.9 with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and 13.4 seconds at 105.9 mph in the quarter-mile. That's about 0.4 to 0.6 second quicker than the G8 GT and Commodore SS. Pontiac points out that the automatic-equipped GXP will do 0.2 second quicker still.

The most obvious change to the chassis is the fitment of larger 14-inch ventilated brake rotors with Brembo four-piston fixed calipers in front. Bigger brakes mean the 19-inch tires are now standard, and they're the same 245/40R19 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer performance tires that are optional for the GT. Here they're mounted on unique forged-aluminum wheels that weigh about 1 pound less apiece than the GT's optional wheels.

The GXP's stopping distance from 60 mph comes in at 110 feet — the same result as the G8 GT with the same tires, but smaller brakes. The benefit from the new brake package expresses itself as increased fade resistance after numerous hard stops, and excellent pedal feel.

The GXP carries the so-called FE3 suspension package with sport-tuned struts and shocks that feature firmer damping rates, which replaces the FE2 setup found in the GT. No further changes apply to the front suspension, but the rear gets a 2mm-larger stabilizer bar (from 18mm to 20), a lower control arm with an outer ball joint instead of a rubber bushing, and a revised toe link.

There are no specific steering system changes, but these mods alone give the GXP better turn-in response and precision along with a reduced tendency toward understeer. The car's ride quality doesn't suffer much at all from the extra damping control, either. In fact, we like the way the GXP deals with uneven asphalt better than the sometimes soggy feel of our G8 GT.

None of this adds up to a measurable benefit at our test track, presumably because our G8 GT features identical tires. The GXP's 0.84g effort on the skid pad is on par with our GT, but its slalom time of 63.6 mph is actually slightly slower. Our test pilot theorizes that the GXP's stiffer rear stabilizer bar that helps reduce understeer in corners might be making this 4,010-pound sedan a little pendulous through the slalom as the tires heat up after four or five consecutive cones with the stability control shut off.

Visually Similar

Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP is its visual similarity to the G8 GT. Apart from the wheel differences between the two cars, the GXP's handsome front and rear fascias aren't distinctive enough to get your attention unless you park a GT alongside. And you have to brandish a ruler to confirm that the quad exhaust tips are, in fact, a half-inch bigger.

But perhaps that's the point after decades of Pontiac scoop-and-cladding excess. Still, we think the ready-made stand-up wing from the 2007 Holden Commodore SS is just the thing for this car if you can get one, as the GXP's spoiler seems a flaccid carry-over from the GT.

Inside the cabin, you'll find that the optional leather-upholstered seats are now standard, but with large GXP logos embroidered into them. A heavily sculpted steering wheel from the Holden Commodore SS-V makes its first appearance. We'd rather it didn't, because its cartoonish contours don't fit our hands. Everything else inside is pure GT fare, including new-for-2009 Bluetooth connectivity.

Now How Much Would You Pay?

The 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP is expected to start at just over $39,000, including destination and the compulsory gas-guzzler tax. Our test car has the two most significant options, the six-speed manual and a $900 sunroof. We figure the as-tested price of our particular GXP settles just below the $41,000 mark.

If this holds true, the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP will be cheaper than the similarly optioned SRT8 versions of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. And you can't opt for a manual in either one of those cars at any price.

Pontiac has been building up to the GXP for a long time and this time it's got some serious wide-track excitement to sell. You could argue that the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP is more like a four-door Trans Am than a regular G8.

But the question is, has Pontiac held onto its best cards too long? Can the GXP show everyone that the G8 is good enough to make Pontiac a brand to be proud of?

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Yeah this is good information. I thought the GXP was starting at 36K not 39K? Overall a pretty good review, but I was going to spend the money on a GT you might as well get the GXP seriously.

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I wish I had forty grand to spend on a car. I'd like this little puppy in my garage.

Chris

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Sweet. It's priced comparable to the Charger SRT8 and has the advantage of a manual transmission. The question is, will/can anyone buy it in this market? Also, the manual should have been standard, the automatic an option.

Edited by moltar
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I think GM knows its going to be a low sales volume car.

Maybe if gas prices stay reasonable by 2012 the market will have picked up.

Chris

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But there is a dark side. The GXP's fuel consumption figures are expected to settle near those of the ZR1 Corvette, which are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Plus the Corvette gets slapped with a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax, so it's likely the GXP will, too.

Our instrumented acceleration test runs peg the performance of the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP with its six-speed manual transmission at 5.2 seconds to 60 mph

GXP settles just below the $41,000 mark.

$41,000 also buys a base 335i that does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and gets 17/26 mpg, and doesn't have the interior from a Kia. The G37 sedan (2009 with the 7-speed auto) will be just as fast as the G8 GXP also. This car won't sell, unless rebated down to about $32,000.

The GTO was a failure, they repeated every mistake but this time with 4 doors.

Edited by smk4565
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$41,000 also buys a base 335i that does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and gets 17/26 mpg, and doesn't have the interior from a Kia. The G37 sedan (2009 with the 7-speed auto) will be just as fast as the G8 GXP also. This car won't sell, unless rebated down to about $32,000.

Different market niche than those cars, though...the G8 GXP's competitor is the Charger SRT8.

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Different market niche than those cars, though...the G8 GXP's competitor is the Charger SRT8.

I know, and how well is the Charger SRT8 selling?

The 3-series outsells the G8 10 to 1, so which is the better market to be in, compact sport sedan, or full size sport sedan? GM chases consumers in the wrong segments, such as the dying Hummer segment and the 205 inch long front driver for the 70+ crowd DTS and Lucerne. Why not make a 3-series competitor instead, a Malibu hybrid that gets 38 mpg, not 27, a CTS that gets 36 mpg, not 26, a minivan, etc.

Edited by smk4565
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I know two people with SRT-8 Chrysler LX cars one a 300C SRT-8 the other a Charger SRT-8. Around here the Charger R/T's a somewhat common. Way more so than the base SE model. As for the 300's most you see are mid-level touring or 300C AWD. They have been a more popular product than I orginally thought, I do think G8 will start selling better once the market looks up but I do suspect alot of GXP's will find ways home into "car guy" hands.

Edited by gm4life
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I know, and how well is the Charger SRT8 selling?

The 3-series outsells the G8 10 to 1, so which is the better market to be in, compact sport sedan, or full size sport sedan? GM chases consumers in the wrong segments, such as the dying Hummer segment and the 205 inch long front driver for the 70+ crowd DTS and Lucerne. Why not make a 3-series competitor instead, a Malibu hybrid that gets 38 mpg, not 27, a CTS that gets 36 mpg, not 26, a minivan, etc.

The SRT8 is a low volume version of the Charger, and last I heard the SRT8 sold very well for it's target. The G8 GXP is also a low volume version. You need to learn to compare apples to apples.

Edited by Dodgefan
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The SRT8 is a low volume version of the Charger, and last I heard the SRT8 sold very well for it's target. The G8 GXP is also a low volume version. You need to learn to compare apples to apples.

So true.

And GM should be going after all customers with an appropriate product, for some of us a G8 is that just right fit.

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The SRT8 is a low volume version of the Charger, and last I heard the SRT8 sold very well for it's target. The G8 GXP is also a low volume version. You need to learn to compare apples to apples.

Agreed, though since they do compete in a similar price range smk does have a bit of a point. Still, I'm not sure if people looking at a G8 want something as small as a 335i. I think a better comparison would be a $40k+ Challenger or Camaro vs. a 335i coupe or similar.

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Agreed, though since they do compete in a similar price range smk does have a bit of a point. Still, I'm not sure if people looking at a G8 want something as small as a 335i. I think a better comparison would be a $40k+ Challenger or Camaro vs. a 335i coupe or similar.

Similar price range, but different market segment. I can see comparing a Challenger w/ a Camaro and a Mustang, or a G8 with a Charger.

But the 335i is a BMW--a premium brand--it's competition are the Lexus IS, Infiniti G35/7, Merc C-class, CTS, Audi A4/A5 etc--other premium brand models in that price bracket. I think consumers rarely cross-shop between mainstream and premium brands, even in similar price brackets.

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I think your right, Moltar. To me the cars have a different charactor anyways. The G35/35 is sorta soft and femmy while the G8 is a very masculine design. They would IMHO appeal to different buyers.

Also glad to see different choices for buyers. Not everything has to ape a BMW, unless you work for Car and Driver magazine...in which a Mustang should come with an M badge and an inline turbo six from Bavaria.

Chris

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The 335i or G37 won't be cross shopped with a G8, I am just stating that the market for performance sedans lies with small to mid-size sedans that also have more luxury. GM is going after a small niche market of people that want 4000+ pounds of large car and 400 hp. This could be the 2009 version of the Mercury Marauder. Why not put the money into a car that can sell in volume and turn profit.

The Camaro (or 2010 Mustang) is a far superior buy than the G8. The Camaro interior is probably better, Camaro is faster, should handle better and looks 1000 times better and is cheaper. Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

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Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

They're not the same thing, starting with the number of doors. It isn't one versus the other.

I would buy a Pontiac G8 over a Chevrolet Camaro without a moment's hesitation.

For me, the better question is "Of those people who like Pontiacs, what do you think of the G8?"

To my eyes, it's the hottest Pontiac in a l-o-n-g time and very desirable measured by any factors.

Edited by wildcat
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The Camaro (or 2010 Mustang) is a far superior buy than the G8. The Camaro interior is probably better, Camaro is faster, should handle better and looks 1000 times better and is cheaper. Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

Not necessarily. Some buyers what/need a 4dr but want a performance sedan.

By the way, since you never have anything positive to contribute about GM, why are you here? Just to be an irritant?

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The 335i or G37 won't be cross shopped with a G8, I am just stating that the market for performance sedans lies with small to mid-size sedans that also have more luxury. GM is going after a small niche market of people that want 4000+ pounds of large car and 400 hp. This could be the 2009 version of the Mercury Marauder. Why not put the money into a car that can sell in volume and turn profit.

The Camaro (or 2010 Mustang) is a far superior buy than the G8. The Camaro interior is probably better, Camaro is faster, should handle better and looks 1000 times better and is cheaper. Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

Because it didn't cost that much money—the G8 is based on a volume car that outsells the Camry in it's domestic market.

You'd be a fool to by a Camaro if you need the space and utility of a large family sedan, which is what the G8 is—a large family sedan as big as the Honda Accord, and in V6 form even a little cheaper. Thanks to the low $A, they might even be making money on them again.

Face it smk, the G8 is a great sedan that didn't cost the money and years a car like the smaller Alpha projects will.

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Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

You're a fool. Not everyone is looking for the same attributes you do. You constantly fail to realize that. Some people wants coupes, some want smaller cars, some want a larger performance car that can just as easily haul the family around as it can carve up the twisties and light up the rear tires.

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Every time I drive by our local Pontiac dealer... BPG actually,

even when it's 23* Fahrenheit outside and I can see my

breath inside the 500SEC as I head off for UPS at 3:30am I

always look over at the white G8 with lust in my eyes. I have

told Julie several times that if I win the lottery she'll be driving

one like the next day.

About a week ago there was a MILF doing the walk around of

the G8 with a salesman and I didn't even stare at her chest

much, opting instead to take a glance at the nose of that sexy

Holden instead...

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This could be the 2009 version of the Mercury Marauder. Why not put the money into a car that can sell in volume and turn profit.

That's not only insulting but ignorant.

The G8 keeps up with a BMW M5 in every category and

you compare it to a washed up Ford sedan that was in

need of a redesign 15 years ago?!?! :angry:

Why not put the money into a car that can sell in volume and turn profit.

What like a freekin G6? Maybe G5 sedan? :confused0071:

Only a fool would buy a G8 over a Camaro.

If the Camaro were a true hardtop then I would be

much more drawn to it than the G8, as it is it's

almost a perfect tie.

Here's the thing... have you seen the size and bulk

of Baby paraphernalia these days? Now that I have

two kids a Camaro would not work for a roadtrip or

even a big shopping trip.

The stroller/baby carriage, baby-bags & wife's purse

takes up the entire trunk in the "big-body" Benz... &

the back seat is crammed full with a booster seat &

baby-seat. The baby carrier we have while super

safe for the baby is the size of Fat Man and the

diaper bag is about the size of Little Boy.

Now before you go off on me just remember that I

have talked the talk and walked the walk on the

whole issue of using a two door for a family car.. but

the '10 Camaro is going to be a far cry from my old

Banana Boat or my '59 LeSabre... which COULD

swallow all our baby accessories & accommodate two

kids in the rear seat with room to spare.

Edited by Sixty8panther
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>>"For me, the better question is "Of those people who like Pontiacs, what do you think of the G8?""<<

I have not looked at one up close, but have seen numerous on the lot & road. It's a tight, good-looking sports sedan, and from what I've glanced at in terms of reviews/impressions, an extremely capable performer. Only thing I can say against it is, it could be more distinctive with more Pontiac design DNA.

I look at the Challenger and that full-width grille nearly makes me melt- Pontiac is overdue for a return to the full-width split grille.

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Agreed, though since they do compete in a similar price range smk does have a bit of a point. Still, I'm not sure if people looking at a G8 want something as small as a 335i. I think a better comparison would be a $40k+ Challenger or Camaro vs. a 335i coupe or similar.

You have to remember that SMK only cares about dollars spent v. acceleration times or vehicle weight or seat positions. He doesn't care if BMW puts out a tricycle that does 0 -60 in 4.8 seconds and has 19 way power seats, he's willing to pay $20,000 more for the tricycle even though the Pontiac does the same thing in 4.9 seconds in a larger, more comfortable package.

BMW sells more 3-series than G8s because in Europe they sell 320dis that make a mid level Passat seem like a step up.

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