Overcompensation is sweet
- What’s New – Pontiac dresses up the G8 sedan’s lineup with a new GXP model sporting a 402-horsepower V-8, an optional six-speed manual transmission, slightly revised and sportier styling, and true performance marked by a 0-60 mph run in about 4.7 seconds.
- Why It Matters – Car shoppers have been subjected to plenty of advertising in recent years promoting the performance of Pontiac vehicles. Unfortunately, there’s was precious little substance to back up the claims. It appears a page has been turned, with the result being newly-created vehicles that actually deliver on marketing promises. The 2009 G8 GXP is the pinnacle of the brand’s reinvigorated and more legitimate lineup.
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP Preview – 2008 New York Auto Show: At some point in all of our lives, we run into people who are full of bull. For every such encounter, there’s usually some sort of sales pitch involved, and argue and disagree as we might, there’s just no getting this nut to fess up to employing overly-positive language or standing behind utter falsehoods.
Tossed into the mix are occasional – and always brief – moments of unfettered honesty. It happened at the 2008 New York Auto Show, when GM Big Cheese, Bob Lutz, admitted that Pontiac’s promises of performance over the past several years have rung hollow. Despite some sporty names and enthusiastic marketing, the cars didn’t deliver. Good to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, as was the announcement that a 402-horsepower GXP version would be filling out the new G8 sedan’s lineup. It’s called overcompensation, and it carries lingo such as “4.7 seconds to 60” and “quarter-mile in 13 seconds at 108 mph.” Honesty, it’s a wonderful thing…almost as wonderful as rip-roaring family sedans.
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP - Notable Features
What serves as the greatest differentiator between the Pontiac G8 GT and the newly-announced GXP variant is the latter’s V-8 engine boasting horsepower in excess of 400. That, and the optional manual transmission enthusiasts have been begging for since the G8’s initial debut.
Besides the upgraded hardware, the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP provides buyers with antilock brakes, traction and stability control systems, six airbags, XM satellite radio, and like all GM vehicles, OnStar telematics.
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP - Under the Hood
Shoppers are starting to understand that GXP means Pontiac performance, and that’s exactly what the G8 version is set to deliver when it goes on sale later this year. Under the hood is a 6.2-liter aluminum V-8 running on premium fuel that cranks out 402 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 402 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard fare, but unlike lesser G8 models, the GXP can be ordered with a six-speed manual tranny that has been designed for harsh use. Adding the manual drops torque to 400 lb.-ft. and cuts 27 pounds from the G8 GXP’s 4,050-lb. curb weight. Despite that significant heft, Pontiac claims that its high-ponied sedan can boogy to 60 mph in only 4.7 seconds.
The upgraded powertrain is matched by a fully-adjustable suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a four-link independent system on the rear, while a variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering assembly keeps the G8 GXP tracking straight on its 19-inch 245/40 summer performance tires (all-seasons are optional). Hauling things to a quick stop is achieved with Brembo brake components, including vented front discs and alloy calipers.
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP - Design
With the G8 GT as a base, the G8 GXP takes an already aggressive design and pumps it up even more. The front and rear fascias are treated to minor tinkering, though not enough to be easily noticed, and the wheel wells are filled with some slick 19-inch alloys.
Inside, there are well-bolstered seats with two-tone leather upholstery and GXP embroidery as well as desirable feature including a 230-watt sound system and alloy pedals.
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP - Competitors
Pontiac suggests that the G8 GXP will compete with two cars: the Dodge Charger SRT8 and the Nissan Maxima. The front-drive Maxima seems like a stretch, especially since the reworked 2009 model will peak with 290 horsepower. The Charger, on the hand, blasts 425 ponies to the rear wheels and is indeed a direct competitor to the less powerful GXP. Pontiac might have favorable pricing on its side, since Dodge’s SRT8 starts at about $40,000 and the G8 GXP should carry a sticker in the low to mid $30s.
Beyond that fellow domestic brute, the list of 400-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive sport sedans encompasses a group of high-priced European imports unlikely to be cross-shopped with this Australian-built General Motors four-door.
By Thom Blackett
Photo credit: Oliver Bentley and Pontiac