Designed and built by Holden Australia and debuting in North America in 2008 for the 2009 model year, the Pontiac G8 lasted two seasons. Manufactured in Melbourne, and sold down-under as the Commodore, it was a decent looking car with above-average handling and performance and a definite European flavour. It could be had with either a V6 or V8 engine and was rear-wheel-drive, which gave it a leg up over some of its competitors, if you were an enthusiast.
The base V6 model came with a five-speed automatic transmission only while the V8 could be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic and came in two performance levels. The V6 version featured lively performance but couldn’t hold a candle to the V8, which, in the limited-production GXP model, could rocket from 0 to 100 km/h in under five seconds. This made it a true high-performance sedan….pity it wasn’t around long enough to prove itself, as Pontiac ceased to exist by 2010. One interesting side-note here; when GM declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, company vice-chairman Bob Lutz announced that the G8 would return as a Chevy Caprice. It never happened.
Equipment level was right up there. Cruise control, XM satellite radio, steering wheel controls for the stereo system and various other functions, tilt/telescoping steering, power outside mirrors, and a rather outdated driver information centre located above the radio all came standard. One little idiosyncrasy: the power window and door lock controls were located on the floor console behind the shift lever, rather than on the doors, which took a little getting used to. Safety equipment included four wheel disc brakes with ABS, a traction control system, GM’s Stabilitrak stability control system, and front, side, and roof-mounted airbags. Trunk space was a fairly generous 496 litres, which was slightly roomier than the 450 litres of the Hyundai Genesis. The Toyota Avalon, another direct rival, provided 407 litres.
You could also order the “preferred equipment group”, which included a power sunroof, dual zone climate control, upgraded stereo, leather upholstery, and heated front seats.
Two safety recalls from Transport Canada to report. One concerns a possibly flawed airbag sensor that could fail to activate with the passenger front seat in the full forward position. The other involves a potentially glitch brake light switch that could malfunction and leave the brake lights permanently on. Both of these recalls affect 2008 and 2009 editions of the G8.
To this we can add a fairly minor recall from the US National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration for a possibly flawed tire monitor warning system. This is tied into the aforementioned brake light glitch and is easily handled by dealers.
An unhealthy 50 technical service bulletins are on file with NHTSA, and there isn’t much they don’t cover. For example: possible “slipping” issues in Reverse and Third gear with the automatic transmission, intermittent engine “fluttering”, a wonky HVAC system that may get stuck in one mode or another, a “boom or moan” noise at highway speeds, and various electrical gremlins. In other words, lots of issues to deal with here.
Consumer Reports was on the fence with this one. While they appreciated the G8’s European flavor, performance capabilities, and interior accommodations, they had issues with things like the fuel system, suspension, and V8 engine. The best they can come up with is an “average” used car prediction. Some comments from owners: “runs like a bullet from a gun”, “this is the best handling car I have owned since my Mini”, “GM’s best car in 25 years, by far”, and “this is a true M5/E-Class killer”.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power, while it loved the performance of the G8, was clearly unhappy with just about everything else. It rreceived a failing grade for overall quality when it was new, and fell short in terms of powertrain quality, mechanical quality, and features and accessories quality.
These days, you can get one of these potent but unreliable road warriors for anywhere from the low to high ‘teens. The V8 GT model is priced about $3000 - $4000 higher than the base V6
2008-2009 Pontiac G8
Original Base Price: $31,995 Black Book: $18,225 – $22,425; Red Book: $14,000 - $17,075
Engine: 3.6 litre V6 & 6.0 litre V8
Horsepower/Torque: 265 / 355 hp / 415 hp ; 248 / 385 / 415 ft. lb.
Transmission: Five & six-speed automatic; six-speed manual
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.2 city/8.0 hwy. (V6) Regular & Premium gas.
Alternatives: Hyundai Genesis V6, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima, Dodge Charger SXT, Mazda6, Honda Accord V6.