Track Tested: 2009 BMW M3 Sedan vs. 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP


m3-gxp.blog.jpg

Don't get bent out of shape just yet. We know this isn't exactly a fair fight. The BMW M3 sedan requires a whole G6-worth of extra cash to bring it home, but hear us out. This is less of heads-up battle than it is a look at how much the extra $25K gets you when it comes to performance sedans.

With the soon-to-be-defunct G8 GXP, spending $42,000 puts you in one of the best Pontiac muscle cars ever. It's a missile in a straight line and surprising capable when you throw it around a little. Doesn't look half bad either.

The BMW M3 is a legend, and for good reason. It takes what is arguably the best sports sedan ever and turns it up three or four notches. That includes the price, however, and now that it's well into the $60s, we can't help but wonder if it's really worth the cash.

Disregard the number on their stickers and these cars aren't so far apart. Both have V8s up front and six-speed transmissions that send over 400 horsepower to their rear wheels. The bigger Pontiac weighs a little more, but its V8 levels the playing field with an extra 120 pound-feet of torque.

So is the BMW $25k faster? Or is the Pontiac the smart buy here? Check out the numbers and decide for yourself.

 
BMW M3 Sedan
Pontiac G8 GXP
0 - 30 (sec):
2.0
2.1
0 - 45 (sec):
3.4
3.4
0 - 60 (sec):
4.8
4.9
0 - 75 (sec):
6.7
7.0
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph):
12.9 @ 109.8
13.1 @ 107.6
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec):
4.5
4.6
30 - 0 (ft):
26.0
28.0
60 - 0 (ft):
105
108
Braking Rating:
Excellent
Very Good
Slalom (mph):
70.0
63.0
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g):
0.90
0.87
Handling Rating:
Excellent
Average

Vehicle: 2009 BMW M3 Sedan
Odometer: 1,166
Date: 04/21/09
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price: $67,370

Specifications:
Drive Type: rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
Engine Type: V8
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 3,999 (244 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 8,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 414 @ 8,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 295 @ 3,900
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Speed proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear):  Multi link
Tire Size (front): 245/40ZR18
Tire Size (rear): 265/40ZR18
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Pilot Sport PS2
Tire Type: Summer Performance
Wheel Size: 18-by-8.5 inches front -- 18-by-9.5 inches rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,710

Acceleration Comments:  Very tricky to launch well given light clutch effort, it's bog or boil. Seems too easy to blow off the tires despite minimal torque down low. It's very deceptive in this regard. 

Braking Comments:  Many runs needed to reach maximum efficiency. No fade. Superb feel and performance. 

Handling Comments: (Skidpad) Excellent stability control calibration follows steering input perfectly. Superb balance, good sense of front end grip. (Slalom) Stability control works with you instead of against you. Best runs were made with EDC in softest setting.

Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP
Odometer: N/A
Date: 1/11/08
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $41,655

Specifications:
Drive Type: rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed automatic
Engine Type: V8
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 6,162 (376 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 415 @ 5,900
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 415 @ 4,600
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Speed proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson Struts, Coil Springs, and Stabilizer Bar
Suspension Type (rear):  Independent, Multi-Link, Coil Springs, and Stabilizer Bar
Tire Size (front): 245/40ZR19
Tire Size (rear): 245/40ZR19
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: RE050 A
Tire Type: Summer Performance
Wheel Size: 19-by-8 inches front -- 19-by-8 inches rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,049

Acceleration Comments:  A pretty well-sorted traction control system allows for some tire chatter in default Drive mode with ESP/Traction Control on. However, it was fairly easy to improve on the times with ESP/Traction Control off. Brake-torquing to ~1500 rpm and releasing produced a little more wheelspin that proved useful. First to 2nd, and 2nd - 3rd upshifts were far quicker than 3rd-4th, which felt like a hole in the gear spacing.

Braking Comments:  Good, not great brakes. So-so initial bite, but once ABS was fully engaged, the G8 slowed rapidly. Moderate fade resistance and moderate pedal effort. Strange transmission calibration felt as if it was still in 3rd gear after the stop and I began to drive away. Not so in Sport Drive, however.

Handling Comments: (Skid Pad) Impressive front end grip but little info from the steering itself. Could almost get the rear end to step out slightly but not quite. Rather large disparity between clockwise and counter-clockwise runs (0.85 vs 0.89g). (Slalom) As with every G8 we've tested, this one requires the slow-in, fast-out technique to keep the pendulum of oversteer at bay. I like having ample power and decent front grip to save the day at the end of a wild run.

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