Track Tested: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO vs. Pontiac G8 GT


new-sho_vs_g8.jpg

Since the day the name Ecoboost was first uttered at an auto show, it's been touted as an engine that would offer V8 performance with V6 efficiency. Well, Ford's twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 is finally here and the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is the most performance-oriented vehicle yet to offer the new engine.

Still, the latest Taurus is a hulk of a sedan. It weighs in at well over 2 tons and stretches nearly 17 feet long. With that in mind, it seemed only fitting to compare the SHO to one of the biggest, most muscular American sedans around (at least for now) -- the 2009 Pontiac G8 GT.

Now technically, the Pontiac G8 GXP is a closer competitor in terms of price, but the GT's power output nearly matches the SHO. Oh, and the Pontiac is 300 pounds lighter, too. We also took into consideration that our Taurus didn't have the optional performance pack that adds a shorter rear end gear, stiffer springs, a thicker rear stabilizer bar, high-performance brake pads and summer tires. More importantly, adding the performance pack also gives you the ability to turn off the stability control system completely, a big advantage when you're running numbers.

So how did the "new" SHO measure up against the "old" GT? Click for the full results; you might be surprised.

Vehicle: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Odometer: 2,289
Date: 06/16/09
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $45,475

Specifications:
Drive Type: All-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed automatic
Engine Type: V6
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 3,496cc (213 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,700
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 365 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 350 @ 1,700
Brake Type (front): Ventilated Disc
Brake Type (rear): Disc
Steering System: Electric power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson Struts with stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multilink with coil springs and stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/45R20 99V
Tire Size (rear): 245/45R20 99V
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Primacy MXV4
Tire Type: all-season
Wheel Size: N/A
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,404
Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.4
0 - 45 (sec): 3.9
0 - 60 (sec): 5.8
0 - 75 (sec): 8.7
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.2 @ 99.11
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5
30 - 0 (ft): 31
60 - 0 (ft): 127
Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 62.9
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.80
Handling Rating: Average
Db @ Idle: 44.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 71.8
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.1

Acceleration Comments: The SHO didn't respond (good or bad) to brake-torque, so best launch was at 2,000 rpm. Revs didn't fall (good) but things didn't really start 'till 3,000 rpm. Upshifts at 6,250 were smooth but not especially quick. Accel was linear until end of quarter-mile where it lays down a bit. (Smoking brakes after 5th accel run.)

Braking Comments: Gravely tire noises, moderate pitch, soft pedal goes nearly to the floor. So-so initial bite, good in the middle then soft at the end.

Handling Comments: (Skid pad) Chassis is slow to respond to steering input -- not at the sidewall level, but due to body motions. Understeers with maintenance throttle and lifting to get rotation awakens stability control. (Slalom) To keep from arriving late at each cone, I had to dial the speed down. Friction-free steering with mild load-up. Just as understeer begins, stability control starts grabbing brake, then throttle dips. Would be nice to turn off stability control, but you can't do that unless you get the optional performance package. That same package also adds better tires which would likely improve results.

Vehicle: Pontiac G8 GT

Odometer: 2,675
Date: 04/28/08
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $31,845

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed automatic
Engine Type: V8
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 5,967cc (364 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,900
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 361 @ 6,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 385 @ 4,400
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, multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/40R19
Tire Size (rear): 245/40R19
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Potenza RE050A
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): 4,021

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.3
0 - 45 (sec): 3.9
0 - 60 (sec): 5.8
0 - 75 (sec): 8.3
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 13.95 @ 101.3
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5
30 - 0 (ft): 28
60 - 0 (ft): 113
Braking Rating: Very Good
Slalom (mph): 63.4
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.86
Handling Rating: Good
Db @ Idle: 48.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.9
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.1

Acceleration Comments: Why is there no redline on the tach? Isn't this a sport sedan with a powerful engine? Bizarre, especially since manual mode holds gears and will bang off the rev limiter all day long. Quickest accel times came in Sport setting with transmission shifting on its own. There's very little wheelspin at launch.

Braking Comments: Some fade became obvious after 5-6 stops, but the distances continued to come down to a world-class 109 feet. Some ABS kickback is noticeable through the pedal, but the overall brake feel -- at least prior to the minor fading -- is confident.

Handling Comments: Transition to oversteer isn't as intuitive as I'd like. Perhaps this is due to minimal roll stiffness. Once the tail is out, however, the G8 GT is easily controlled. Little roll stiffness also means there's an uncomfortable amount of time between weight transfer in transitions in the slalom. Otherwise, handling is good with predictable limits. Oh, and stability control can be fully disabled.

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