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A much better car than its precursor, the Sunfire, the 2007 Pontiac G5 nonetheless lags behind the class leaders in the areas of handling, seat comfort and overall refinement.
Respectable acceleration from either powertrain, smooth and quiet ride, good crash test scores.
Cheap interior plastics, cramped backseat, lack of interior storage, dull handling.
Available G5 Coupe Models
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The 2007 Pontiac G5 is a clone of the Chevy Cobalt coupe, which means that it shares just about everything with its platform mate, save the grille and its Pontiac markings.
The 2007 Pontiac G5 is a blatant example of "badge engineering," which is when a manufacturer takes a vehicle from a related carmaker and changes a few minor things, such as the grille design and taillights, and then badges the vehicle under its name. This is nothing new, and isn't necessarily a bad thing, provided the platform that's being shared is competent in its segment. Sadly, that's not the case with the Pontiac G5, which is a twin to the Cobalt coupe and thus shares that Chevy's strengths and weaknesses, albeit with a stylish Pontiac twin-port grille up front. Offered only in coupe form in either base or GT trim, the Pontiac G5 sets its sights on economy sport coupes such as the Honda Civic, Scion tC and Ford Focus.
First, the good news. The Pontiac G5 is a lot more competitive than its predecessor, the Chevy Cavalier-based Sunfire. In the areas of performance, ride quality, interior materials and crash test scores, the G5 makes a decent showing, and even the base model provides peppy performance and a quiet ride. In addition, Pontiac has priced it competitively (about $15,000-$18,000) and is planning to offer an extensive roster of dealer-installed options like 18-inch wheels and ground effects for further personalization.
Now for the bad news. We suspect that a lot of buyers in this class are typically more interested in overall quality and a comfortable cabin than boy racer styling components. Compared to the Honda Civic's interior, for instance, the G5's design seems rather bland and its materials of a lower grade. The G5 also loses out in the areas of handling dynamics and overall refinement. Further limiting the appeal of the G5 is the fact that it's only available as a coupe.
Examined in isolation, the 2007 Pontiac G5 would be a satisfactory choice for most folks shopping for an inexpensive and sporty-looking small coupe. But we don't advise buying a car that way. With more than a few competitors offering superior handling dynamics (and hence a higher fun-to-drive factor), greater seat comfort and better build quality, we suggest cross-shopping before making a decision.
The 2007 Pontiac G5 comes as a compact coupe in either base or GT trim. The base G5 comes with 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, a driver-seat height adjuster, a split-folding rear seat, a rear spoiler and a single CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack. The GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, foglamps, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The first 5,000 G5s sold will come with XM satellite radio, including a year of XM service and 365 songs of music downloads from Rhapsody. A set of 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as most of the GT's features (less the 17-inch wheels and sport suspension), can be had as options on the base car. Options for both versions include a six-disc CD changer, XM satellite radio, a Pioneer audio system, OnStar and a remote vehicle starter. A few packages that boost the luxury factor are available as well. The Premium Package adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and the Pioneer audio system, while the Sun and Sound Package adds a sunroof and the Pioneer audio system.
A 2.2-liter inline four-cylinder engine powers the base G5. With 148 horsepower, 152 pound-feet of torque and a broad powerband, that engine makes the Pontiac G5 one of the faster economy cars available. The GT features an even more potent 2.4-liter version with 173 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission on both G5s is a five-speed manual, with a four-speed automatic available as an option.
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on the GT, while the base G5 comes with rear drums and ABS as an option. Traction control comes standard on the G5s that are equipped with ABS brakes and an automatic transmission. Full-length side curtain airbags are optional on both trims. A "Security" package for the base car bundles the ABS with the side curtain airbags and OnStar. NHTSA frontal impact testing resulted in four stars out of five for the driver and a perfect five for the passenger. In side-impact tests conducted by NHTSA, a G5 with the side curtain airbags scored three stars up front and four stars in back, while oddly enough a G5 without those curtain airbags earned four stars for both the front and rear. In that latter test, however, a safety concern was noted for the driver dummy's head striking the window sill.
Inside, attractive gauges and a full-featured stereo head unit give the 2007 Pontiac G5 a modern feel. A smattering of metallic accents on the gear shifter, steering wheel and doors brightens the otherwise stark cabin of the GT. Both trims feature a trip computer that provides information such as outside temperature, fuel range, coolant temperature and various warning messages. Even with the optional leather, however, the seat design is plain and comfort is unimpressive, especially in back where the bench is flat and low.
Either engine provides ample power for just about any situation. Commuters will enjoy the G5's smooth, quiet ride, but the car's handling is less impressive. The base G5's suspension allows too much body roll, and the electric steering, which comes on both G5 trims, is slow, with minimal feedback. In terms of overall driving enjoyment and refinement, the Pontiac G5 comes up short compared to the class leaders.
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