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New Pontiac G6 to compete with 'prestige' midsize cars

By AP

Long a leader in styling excess, Pontiac is discarding its busy bodies for a smooth, steely new look.

The General Motors Corp. division - which once produced classics like the 1963 Grand Prix and 1965 GTO - has been adrift for years, critics say. But Pontiac wants to re-establish itself in the huge midsize sedan segment with the sleek 2005 G6, which will replace the largely unloved Grand Am.

"We want to make Pontiac an aspirational brand again," Lynn Myers, general manager of Pontiac, said Monday at the G6's official unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. "We want people hanging posters of Pontiacs on their walls again."

For much of the last 10 years, the domestic Big Three automakers have focused on building profitable pickups and sport-utility trucks. But now, with imports such as Honda and Toyota dominating the car side of the industry, all the domestics are devoting more effort to their cars.

On Sunday, for example, Ford unveiled two new cars - the 500 sedan and Freestyle crossover vehicle - as well as a production version of the all-new 2005 Mustang.

GM has already made considerable progress in revitalizing Cadillac and is trying to do the same with its other brands, said Gary Cowger, president of GM North America.

"All of this started with Cadillac at the upper end," Cowger said in an interview following the introduction of the G6. "We think we can do the same with Pontiac."

The G6 will compete in the largest segment in the industry, midsize sedans. When coupe and convertible versions of the car are introduced in about a year, Pontiac officials said, GM hopes to sell about 200,000 of the cars annually. That would make it one of the company's highest-volume vehicles.

The G6 features smooth, sophisticated styling and an understated wedge shape. It will be built on GM's new Epsilon platform, which also is being used for the new Saab 9-3 and Chevrolet Malibu.

GM officials said the G6 will be a solid, crisp-handling car that can be ordered with a 240-horsepower V6. Unlike the Grand Am - a lower-end sedan heavily represented in rental fleets - the G6 aims to compete with sporty "prestige" midsize cars like the Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima.

No prices were announced, but the car should arrive at dealerships later this year, officials said. It will join the new 350-horsepower GTO, a revamped Bonneville with V8 power and a new four-cylinder roadster, the Solstice.

But like other new domestic sedans introduced at the show, the G6 will try to appeal to buyers who have grown up with imports - and for the most part, prefer them, analysts say.

"It is light years ahead of anything they have built recently, but they will have to convince younger, import-oriented customers that this is a competitive car," said Wes Brown, an analyst with industry consultant Iceology in Los Angeles. "GM has to accept that this is a stepping stone. It took 10 or 15 years to destroy the brand, and it will take at least that long to rebuild it."

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Is anyone else reminded of the Pontiac 6000? It also was positioned as an "import fighter" (European sport sedans / wagons), had digital gauges and all-wheel-drive...

I used to have an advertisement for the 6000 - it really went all out comparing the car to imports back then.

http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/the6000club/
 

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Very good, and I think its a great import fighter. Very sleek, very sexy looked car really. Also, when does the solstice come to market?
 

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I can't help agree with one particular point in the article: GM took 10-15 years to destroy the brand, and it's going to take at least that long to rebuild it. I think the G6 is great, and I think the coupe will be particularly "fetching," but I'm concerned that there is a higher level of pressure being placed on this car from a sales standpoint. I'm sure, with large enough incentives, this car will sell 200,000 units when all three models are in production. I'm not convinced that this car will sell 200,000 units without large incentives, though. And therein lies the problem.

If people are talking about truly re-establishing the credibility of Pontiac, might it be a better strategy to shoot for the same sales as the current Grand Am but not use incentives? It's a hard lump to take, but in the longterm, when the second generation G6 comes out, they can raise the bar sales-wise without raising incentives: "This car is so good, you're gonna wanna pay full price for it!" This assumes that Pontiac replaces the car in a reasonable amount of time (4 years), and the replacement improves noticeably on this G6's weaknesses (i.e., the next generation is a progression, not just a minor makeover).

I think this strategy is apt for all of GM's divisions; generally they're making great cars and trucks, but perception lags reality in terms of quality, refinement, dependability, and desireability. And their track record for consistency is yet to be established. Of course, I know that I am simplifying a complex issue, and I can appreciate on some level the complexities of plant utilization, UAW contracts, and other indirect factors that play a role in final production and sales objectives.

Maybe GM will rise to the occasion?
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Jan 22 2004, 08:50 PM
Is anyone else reminded of the Pontiac 6000? It also was positioned as an "import fighter" (European sport sedans / wagons), had digital gauges and all-wheel-drive...

I used to have an advertisement for the 6000 - it really went all out comparing the car to imports back then.

http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/the6000club/
I remember when the 6000 came out - the base model was nothing special, but the STE knocked a lot of people on their heels.

Car and Driver did a comparison test in Mexico that included the STE, and Audi 5000, a Maxima, a Toyota Cressida and a couple of other sporty sedans. If I remember right, the STE held it's own pretty well. It was also a Car and Driver "10 best."

My high school girlfriend's Dad bought one, and it seemed pretty damn impressive back in '85. Suede interior, a growly motor, good handling - maybe not an alternative to a BMW, but certainly viable against the Audi or SAAB.

Eventually, Pontiac didn't seem to know what to do with the STE package. They offered a cheaper SE that had most of ther performance bits, but wasn't an integrated package. They gave the STE all wheel drive in the late 80s, but with barely 140 hp, the car hardly needed more traction.

But, for someone my age (37), the first STE, with its 6 headlight face, cool interior and decent performance (for its day) was one of the early bright spots in the '80s, along with the 5.0 Mustang and the L69 Camaro - signs that - though we had missed out on the muscle car era - fun cars were coming back.
 

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IMO the G6 is light years ahead of the Grand Am that it replaces. My wife, a Japanese girl that perfers Japanese and German cars (go figure), really likes the G6. That sunroof is nothing more than KICKASS. As long as it doesn't leak, Pontiac will sell thousands of cars on that feature alone. The interior is a HUGE improvement over every GM product in the past except Caddy. I want to see it in person before making a final call on it but the interior still looks as if it has room for improvement in the plastics area. IMO, the main reason people say that GM and Chrysler cars interiors look cheap is because of the cheap plastics they use. The interiors are otherwise just fine, with a few exceptions of course. As another poster alluded to, this is just the beginning of Pontiacs recovery. The Vibe got the ball rolling, the Grand Prix helped (though I don't like it), the V8 Bonneville will bring back a bit of the excitement, the G6 is gonna bring back the money, and the Solstice is gonna finish the recovery part of the job. Where they go from there is up to them. Hopefully they, and the other American car companies, will continue to improve from here.
 

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I saw it at the Chicago show. It's a very, very pretty car with a lot of nice touches that make it look like more expensive piece than it will actually be. I was very impressed.

The styling has attitude without being goofy. Accords and Camrys just got even duller to look at.

I predict solid success for this car. And if the mechanicals are up to snuff, they'll have a runaway hit on their hands.
 

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I think it will also be a great import fighter. It might take sales from Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima and Altima.
 

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Originally posted by pkd87@Feb 25 2004, 10:27 PM
I think it will also be a great import fighter. It might take sales from Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima and Altima.
I agree. I think this car will fair very well over all.
 

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The Maxima is a bit big for that catagory, but I deffinatly think that the G6 can put up with the best.
 
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