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Nsap [FINALLY] Drives: 2009 G8 GT
By: Nsap


Every once in awhile a car comes around that just lights a fire in you. It's just one of those things that you feel was made just for you and you only. Well, after driving a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT, I can say that car is one of those...at least for me. No, it does not have all the options it should. It does not get 30 MPG on the highway (with this car, who cares?). However there are two things to note with the G8 GT; its a performance car and its sophisticated.

The Car

Last Saturday I went to a local PBG dealership. I've never been a huge fan of this dealership as they irritate me with hard core sales tactics that, quite frankly, annoy the piss out of me. They had five GT's in stock (four equipped identical to one another), so I thought it would be the prime oppertunity to drive one of them. I picked a Magnetic Grey G8 GT that was optioned with the Sport Package and the Premium Package. There was virtually no one else on the lot and it appeared as if it had been like that for quite some time; not a surprise since that was one of the worst weeks on Wall Street ever. The salesman was begging me to drive it (as if he needed to), so I did. I ended up driving it just over 30 miles; took some Interstate driving, city driving and some nice back roads that wind around the Ozarks.

MSRP: $33,210.00

The Drive

The driving experience of this car is by-far the most important aspect of it, so its going to be the first discussed. I remote started the car (with its friggin cool switchblade keyfob:D) and was sad/happy that the car sounded so civil. The inner GM fan in me wanted to hear that 6.0L Small Bock V8 rumble with its 50 years of engineering heritage fully intact, however, at the same time I was glad to hear that the car sounded so well composed. Upon driving out of the dealership lot with it I realized something; this car is amazingly well-mannered. I drive a G6 GTP (240 HP 3.9L) and I get irritated by its eagerness to lunge forward when driving in traffic. I expected the G8 GT to be even worse, but that was far from the case. It was a delight to drive in city traffic! Never once did it become the right lane bully while driving down Main street. The difference between my G6 GTP and this car (one of many) is that the G8 has that excellent 6L80 6-speed transmission controlling the small block's torque; whereas my G6 is stuck with four gears to control an engine that get's all 240 lb.-ft. at just 2700 RPM. That, folks, is not a good combination for traffic. The G8 though was butter smooth in traffic. I'd feather the throttle a bit to crawl to the next block and it would accelerate smoothly without lunging forward like you would expect from a 362 HP car.

Next up was the on-ramp to the Interstate. That is where I got my first taste of the G8's sheer ease of umm...competitive driving. The posted speed limit on the ramp was 45 MPH, but I think that was put in place when America was still driving cars that could not take corners at speeds any higher than that; so I took it at about 60 MPH. The curve was fairly tight for an on-ramp, but it was FUN with the G8. Again, I go back to what I said: this car is extremely well-mannered. Never once did it perform below perfection when you pushed its handling limits. The G8 reminds me of one of those brainy kids: the ones that, 90% of the time do not say anything, but when you ask them to do something...they not only meet expectation, but amaze you to the point that your jaw is on the floor. G8 just knows how to handle and handle perfectly. Make no mistake though, well-mannered does not mean the G8 isn't fun. Actually, it is quite the contrary. The fact that the G8 GT is so well behaved means the ding-dong behind the wheel of this car can push the performance limits and frankly, the G8 takes it in stride. Turn off the electronic nannies and you can toss this car around; with you and the G8 both enjoying it immensely. So I guess you could say that, when discussion it's chassis dynamics, it works hard and plays even harder.

The other portion of the drive of this car is that powertrain. One would expect that a car that weighs nearly two-ton and has a 6.0L V8 to feel like is, well, that big. Not the case with this car. When I approached the end of the on-ramp I was at about 45 MPH and noticed just enough of a clear to make it onto the highway. I nailed the G8 nearly to the floor and as soon as I knew I was not going to get hit I looked down to find I was already above 85 MPH and climbing! I threw the accelerator down several times and was surprised by the sophisticated, swift acceleration the car had. It does not have a sheer, blunt force of acceleration (see: two ton car), but it has more than enough to keep you entertained and to beat your buddies from A to B street racing in nearly anything.

To round out the drive experience we must cover the steering and transmission. As soon as I turned the key I thought about what the transmission was going to be like. It seems that many recent applications of 6-speeds from any car company have had screwy software programming. With the G8 I never really noticed it not shifting when I would have wanted it to. I did throw the 6L80 in Sport mode and, boy, it does hang on to those gears until red line! In manual mode, I was pleased with it, but it seemed to lag a bit. There isn't much to discuss with the steering; it's near perfect. For some it is probably too heavy, but I like heavy steering (gives you the "in control" feeling).

The Interior

The seats in this car impressed me greatly. That isn't a surprise since Holden always seems to have good seats. They comfortably hold you in place while your quizzing the G8 on it's dynamics and the leather they wrap them in is some of the best I have seen from GM. It's also nice to have both front seats power adjustable. I didn't try out the backseat.

Personally I like the overall interior design. It's very "Pontiac" but still is higher quality than most. The hole where the 1980's gauges were on the 2008 model is kind of stupid and pointless, but I guess it is better than the PACMAN gauges.

I'm very glad that they have added XM Radio to the G8 for 2009. That was a needed option. It meshes well with the 6.5" LCD radio and sounds very good coming from the 11-speaker Blaupunkt audio system. They still need to add a USB port and navigation system to this car. Such oversights are not good on a car that claims to take on the BMW 550i.

Closing

It's difficult to put into text how this car drives. It's just that good. As I mentioned, it's extremely well-mannered, but at the same time you can really have fun with the car. The two seem to counter each other, but on this car they don't. The only other GM car that comes close to the G8's dynamics and power (for the price) is probably the CTS 3.6 DI. The G8 is simply a badass car.
 

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I look forward to driving one myself.

It's a shame how absolutely boring it looks, though. That story didn't end well the last time when they called it a GTO. And aren't we over clear-lense tail lamps by now? It's very 2003.
 

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Totally agree one of the best GM products in many years.

I want an opinion as to what is the main cause attributed to it being a flop though? (Especially the 6cyl) -----

Purely the state of the Economy?
RWD?
Gas spike of this summer?
Poor/Lack of advertising by GM?
Or did they miss the mark (again) style wise?

It really is a shame that they are simply not selling.
 

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Totally agree one of the best GM products in many years.

I want an opinion as to what is the main cause attributed to it being a flop though? (Especially the 6cyl) -----

Purely the state of the Economy?
RWD?
Gas spike of this summer?
Poor/Lack of advertising by GM?
Or did they miss the mark (again) style wise?

It really is a shame that they are simply not selling.
I think it is a combination of everything you just asked.............I don't think there is any one reason why sales have been slow.

Give it time
 

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the G8 is one of my favorite cars but i hate how boring and bland the exterior styling is. I'm surprised Pontiac didn't learn anything from the GTO. and that lesson is just because the car has good performance doesn't mean it will sell high numbers on that alone. Exciting, and distinct styling is what makes a majority of sales especially in high performance cars.
 

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I said it once and Ill say it every time.
G8 is the best car GM currently produces dollar for dollar, pound for pound.
Better then Vette
Better then Malibu
Better then CTS.

Back seat is amazingly roomy. If G8 had the 3.6 DI and 6spd auto, combined with all the gadgets that the Commodore gets in Oz, there would be NO need for the CTS. Zero.
 

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one of the worst GM vehicles. (my opinion)
 

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I said it once and Ill say it every time.
G8 is the best car GM currently produces dollar for dollar, pound for pound.
Better then Vette
Better then Malibu
Better then CTS.

Back seat is amazingly roomy. If G8 had the 3.6 DI and 6spd auto, combined with all the gadgets that the Commodore gets in Oz, there would be NO need for the CTS. Zero.
I agree. I ALMOST picked a new '09 G8 V6 base because the car is just a lot for the dough, and you'd be hard pressed to find something with that quality, size (it's huge inside), RWD, ride/handling, etc., with all the cool touches of the switchblade key, Blaupunkt, etc., for such a great price. In the end, I chose a loaded Malibu, because the package fit me a little more...but it still gives me pause some days, thinking about it. I think the main things that bugged me were the all black interior (not a fan) and the lack of a sunroof, for the price, although it was a base model and I thought already an incredible deal as it was.

I hope it gets some steam soon from marketing or something, or otherwise it'll die on the vine like so many others have.
 

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Well, no doubt that there will be better fits for people. If it wasnt for Camaro, I would be scoping out any deal I can snag on G8 GT's.
I got to really REALLY drive a G8 GT with sport/luxury package, an 09, at Indy and I gotta say if Camaro can MATCH this, Mustang and Challenger product planners need to get back to the drawing board.
Problem is, for Ford and Chrysler, is that Camaro is supposed to drive better, and have more power, in a lighter car.
 

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one of the worst GM vehicles. (my opinion)
Wow, how insightful.

Please tell us how this car is one of GM's worst? How does it fail?

Oh wait, is it just because you don't like it? So it is one of the worst?
 

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Wow !! A very insightfull analysis. I can see you put a lot of thought into your reasoning.
It must be tiring lugging around that giant brain.
 

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I drove the G8 GT a few weeks ago, and came up with the same conclusion as you. Although budget wise I would end up with the v6 model, I couldn't bring myself to drive it if they had the GT on the lot.

Also last Saturday I went to the BPG & Caddy dealer to get an oil change done (yes I do them at the dealer when the truck is under warranty, less hassle). And the owner of the dealership (my neighbor) was driving a black GT as a demo. Asked why he is driving that when there is so many other choices, he said it is his favorite on the lot! That blew me away since they have plenty of Caddys to choose from as well. As NSAP said....."Yeah it's that good".
 

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In less than 2 years I'll be buying either the Camaro SS2 with the RS option package or the G8 GT. I like the Camaro all around better, but the the G8 has more room on the inside. If only I had enough money to buy one of them now.
 

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Its the only Pontiac since 2002 that I would have in my driveway. The black ones just look evil!
 

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I went to a local dealership to check one out, and I don't think it looks bland at all. Its handsomely styled, with good proportions and a muscular stance. A salesman came up to me and was asking how I liked it (it was a V6) and he then decided to bring me over to the real fun stuff-the GT. It was Magnetic Grey Metallic and that is probably my favorite color for the car, with the black and orange following. The leather seats were excellent, I really liked the LCD display, the key and the way it starts. Had I been 18 at the time, I would have taken it for a spin, and I told the salesman that several time, but he insisted on a test-drive. To be honest though, I'd have to drive both the V6 and V8 and I wouldn't settle for anything less than the 11 speaker Blaupunkt system, a sunroof, leather steering wheel/shifter, and hopefully leather seats. It was funny, I got in my 02 Grand Prix afterwards and was like, this thing looks like $hit on the inside, lol.
 

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The styling of the G8 is not boring. I don't know how any of you others can say that. Go look at an ES, LS, any BMW with four doors, Genesis, Camry, Corolla... there are many more that are more boring to look at. The G8 is unique enough that it's polarazing the C&D staff with the men thinking it looks cool, and the women hating it. Definately not "boring."
 
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