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Motoring: Pontiac G8: “The car is perfect”

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 9th, 2009

Last week you all read about the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, which was quite an amazing show. This week I will talk about the car that took me there, the Pontiac G8.

This car is a product of General Motor's Australian division, Holden, where they have been producing these for ages now.

I am surprised it took this long for someone at GM management to think these cars would be attractive to North American buyers.

Oh well, as they say, better late than never. So, since they are finally here, how do these cars from down under perform at this end of the planet?

First, some technical information. Only one body style available in Canada compared to three in Australia and you get two engine options. The one most people talk about is the 6.0-liter, V8 that pumps out 361hp, and the one that will be the bigger seller is the 3.6-liter, V6, which produces 256hp.

Both engines are mated to automatic gearboxes, but while the V8 version gets a six-speed auto, the V6 gets a five-speed auto. Both gearboxes have sport modes, which allows the driver to play with gear ratios manually.

The car I took to Detroit was the V6 model, riding on proper winter tires, a necessity due to the weather conditions we were having.

Living a week with a car certainly tells you a lot about it, so spending a week that involved lots of driving, most of which in bad weather really points out a cars strengths and weaknesses.

I am happy to report, this car has much more in the strength department than the weakness area.

The first thing I love about this car is its spacious interior, which can seat five people comfortably. A special mention goes to the fabulous driver's seat, which even after covering 1,200 km's still felt comfortable and offered support where you'd want.

The front seats were also heated, which came in handy, as did its excellent Blaupunkt stereo system (equipped with satellite radio), which allowed me to enjoy music on my long drive.

Since this is a rear-wheel drive car, I was wondering how it would handle in our winter driving conditions, but thanks to its great chassis, suspension and its stability control system, it showed that nothing could phase this car.

In fact, probably the best feature of this car is its brilliant handling. Thanks to a chassis that is predictable and confidence inspiring, and a traction control system that can be turned fully off, this makes for a great drift car.

One night when we got a fresh sprinkling of snow, I went out for a drive, to explore its handling abilities. All I can say is, this is probably the most well balanced sedan I have ever driven. The steering communicates well and the car is very easy to place into corners, and if you want to hang the tail out, it will oblige accordingly, and it is easy to correct.

Driving this G8 in these winter conditions was more fun than most sports cars can offer at a track on a proper summers day. The G8 is so good it puts Pontiac's own sports car, the Solstice, to shame in the handling department (and every other department if you ask me).

On top of its excellent handling, it rides very well too; in fact it feels like a German car on the road.

However, it isn't perfect. I found there was a bit more road noise in the cabin than I was expecting (although the winter tires probably made the situation worse) and I really dislike the gigantic size of the steering wheel on which I'd bang my knee every time I got in or out.

I also didn't like the position of the cup holders, they are right under your elbow, and I wished it had smart entry and push button start like most cars have nowadays, but these are really minor complaints.

Other than that, the car is perfect. Seriously, I even like the way it looks.

I know some of you might be thinking, this is a big car and big cars gulp a lot of petrol. Well this big car averaged 11.2-liters/100km during my week, which is about the same as I averaged with a Suzuki SX4. So in other words, it's economical too.

Ok, so I bet you are wondering, where is the catch, this car must be seriously expensive if its this good.

Well if you must know, it starts at $32,450, which trust me, is a lot less than a car this good has any right to be. If this came with a Lexus badge it would have been worth twice as much.

Who would have guessed that the Australians knew how to make the best American car on the planet?
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