2008 Pontiac G8 Long Term Road Test

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Relaxed in a Good Way

October 26, 2009

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I flew back from Japan on Saturday, and our long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 GT was waiting for me in the garage. I've driven this car a lot, so I know it pretty well and I like the way I feel when I drive it: Relaxed.*

Aside from the Australian idiosyncrasies to some its controls, this is a very straightforward car to drive. The driving position is good, with a relatively low cowl and a conventional, sedan-style, low-but-too-low driver seat. Said seat is comfortable and the steering wheel fits well in my hands at 9-and-3. The all-black decor and the materials used in the cabin are pretty unassuming, but the quality is solid. You're aren't going to find luxury trimmings here, but the G8 never feels like it's trying too hard.

Same goes for the way it actually drives. Sure, I wish the transmission was quicker in un-Sport mode (and I wish our front brake rotors were newer), but this car accelerates, steers and corners with an ease and predictability that's missing in far too many cars in this price range.

It's not just that the G8 is rear-drive and equipped with a V8, though I certainly don't mind those attributes. It's that it really feels like the drivetrain and chassis were tuned with a driver's eye toward how the total package would feel -- rather than a product planner's eye toward checking off specific boxes. This is exactly the approach New GM should take with all its future product.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 33,721 miles

*The above photo was taken before the license bracket repair, but I decided to use it anyway.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: The Anti-Camaro SS

September 30, 2009

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With more than 30,000 miles on the odometer, our Pontiac G8 has led a hard life. The transmission lurches from gear to gear when it's cold and there's an annoying flutter from the back of the car (subframe, body panel?) that registers over stutter bumps. It's as if the car has spent a little time flat-out on the dirt roads of the Australian outback. Or maybe our Josh Jacquot has driven it more than a little.

And yet the G8 still drives great, a real American-style car in the dramatic way it does things and European in its ability to deliver the requisite finesse when the circumstances calls for it. In fact the Pontiac G8 is everything that the Chevrolet Camaro SS is not.

Maybe it's the more deliberate action of the steering and throttle. Maybe it's the ability of the chassis to glide over the rough patches in the road without losing its grip in the corners. Maybe it's the good visibility from the driver seat.

The Camaro SS has much the same hardware as the Pontiac G8, but it feels as it's been screwed down a little too tightly, like the GM engineers have set it up to achieve great test numbers but not necessarily great driving. The Pontiac Solstice sports car always drove the same way, like it had been calibrated as GM engineer John Heinricy's ride in the SCCA run-offs.

Every time I walk away from the 2008 Pontiac G8, I think about what a great drive it is. Whenever I walk away from the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS, I never look back.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 32,650 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8: Eulogy Thoughts

September 29, 2009

Pontiac G8 at Mark Moore Gallery

I've lamented previously that the G8 won't be living on as a Chevy Caprice, Buick Park Avenue, Saturn G8 or Geely Gwokdong or whatever. All that was important was that this interesting car didn't die. However, I now see why GM's death panel decided to pull the plug on Grandpa G8.

The G8 was clearly the type of car that Pontiac should've been making for years -- a rear-drive, discount BMW with primal American flavor that actually delivered excitement. Unfortunately, it should've been introduced before the 50th minute of the 11th hour.

Yet even if Pontiac had caught on earlier and prevented this from happening, I seriously doubt tthe G8 could ever have been a volume seller. Gear heads like us love the idea of a discount BMW with a primal V8, but large sedan buyers would frankly end up looking elsewhere. Within GM itself, the Buick LaCrosse offers a more comfortable ride and an exponentially nicer interior with an equally large back seat that features moveable head rests and a center armrest. You also don't have to speak Australian to figure out how to use the stereo or find a button in the climate controls. Ditto the Ford Taurus and probably any number of midsize sedans.

While neither the LaCrosse or Taurus offer the sort of heart-racing performance as the G8, most Americans would gladly sacrifice 0-60 for comfort and luxury. So even if the G8 could've survived, it would have been a niche car for people who couldn't afford a 5 Series, people who need to replace their Trans Am or people who speak Australian. It would've been a fun niche, but such a niche simply couldn't survive in the New GM.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 32,569 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Suspension Thwack

September 21, 2009

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I've enjoyed my time with our long-term Pontiac G8 GT, particularly when I drove it to Napa Valley last fall. But there are some things Pontiac might have handled better (not that this is of great consequence anymore). Over the weekend, I was conscious of how much noise there is as the suspension extends over particularly nasty bumps and ruts. Maybe I wouldn't notice this as much if the cabin wasn't so serene otherwise. I don't think it's a fatal flaw on a $32K car.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 31,252 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: All Rainbows and Lightning Strikes

August 26, 2009

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A few days ago I was about 200 miles northeast of our Santa Monica office cruising our long-term Pontiac G8 GT through Baker, California. Baker is home of the world's tallest thermometer, which is a don't miss attraction should you be in the Mojave, and it's considered the Gateway to Death Valley. While I was there, I ate, I gassed and I managed to grab a few choice shots of the car just as a storm was rolling in.

These three pics are the best and I promise you that no Photoshop was used in the creation of these images, just good luck, Mom Nature and my trusty Canon.

By the way, the G8 is awsome on the highway. Great road trip ride.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Kick That Engine Cover To The Curb

August 10, 2009

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I've had enough of plastic engine covers. Especially on a car like our long-term Pontiac G8 GT. I opened the G8's hood this morning to check its oil (yes it has an old fashioned dipstick) and was disappointed to find a big ugly cover completely shielding the Pontiac's all-aluminum V8 from my sight. Why?

If I owned this car that engine cover would spend all of its time on my garage shelf.

What do you think?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 26,108 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Range On The Blink

August 06, 2009

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The range readout on our beloved long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 GT has gotten glitchy. When I jumped in the car to drive it home it read 130 miles to empty. Half a mile down the road it read 85. A mile or so later 110. When I got home (a 9 mile drive) it said 98.

I didn't think much of it, but when I fired up the G8 this morning it rear 258. And with less than half a tank. No way.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: 10 Things I Like About You

July 28, 2009

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With more than 25,000 miles on the Pontiac G8 GT, here is my list of likes:

1 - big V8 power
2 - rear-wheel drive
3 - roominess
4 - suspension holds up in corners
5 - nice-looking butt
6 - subtle yet strong wheel design
7 - sticky Bridgestones
8 - strong, cold A/C
9 - low maintenance costs
10 - six-speed automatic transmission in Sport mode

Have anything to add to this list?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 25,500 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Fresh Meats

July 20, 2009

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As Dan Edmunds said back when the 2008 Pontiac G8 was our Car of the Week, the rear tires were dead and gone and needed immediate replacement. And by immediate, we meant right after we had some more fun with worthless rubber.

Anyway, a new set 245/40R19 Bridgestone Potenza REO50As ran us, including installation and tax, $684.67 and took just about an hour from the time we called until we drove off with new shoes.

I can't figure out why the fronts were fine and the rears were so worn down.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 25,112 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Dipstick? What Dipstick?

June 26, 2009

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Our excitable Scottish tie-wearing mechanic friend implores folks to "Think with your dipstick!" He's so fanatically passionate about the benefits of regular lubracatory monitoring practices that he'll even resort to physical violence to force people to submit to his agenda.

None of us around here wants that, least of all me.

And while our favorite demented Scot is primarily focused on engine oil, it pays to keep tabs on your transmission fluid level, too.

I thought of this while driving the Pontiac G8 GT the other day, as the shifting action didn't seem to be as crisp or regular is it did when it was new, especially in the "normal" shift mode. (Sport mode seems fine.) And I'm not the only one who has experienced this.

The slight shifting delay I noticed once or twice while starting from rest reminded me of what low automatic transmission fluid feels like, so I popped the hood for a quick check.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I couldn't. Why? No dipstick.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT vs. 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

June 17, 2009

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Yesterday we put a new 2010 Ford Taurus SHO through our battery of track tests, and guess what, it's no giant killer.

Despite all the hype surrounding Ford's new twin-turbo, all-wheel drive sport sedan, our long-term Pontiac G8 GT would put it on the trailer. The Pancho is quicker, it handles better and it has better brakes. Oh, and it's much, much, much, much cheaper. In fact, for the price of the SHO you could step up to a G8 GXP. And then it's really no contest, the SHO's doors would be officially blown off.

Tell me which one you'd rather have. I've driven all three and I'll tell you that the Ford isn't even a close second.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Edmunds' First Drive of the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Always in "S"

June 15, 2009

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Unless I'm going backwards, this is how I drive the G8. I'd bet the fuel economy is marginally worse, but otherwise there seems to be no down side. The calibration difference between "Normal" and "Sport" is a subtle but effective change which perks up the car's response to small throttle openings. When accelerating from most corners using aggressive (but not wide-open) throttle, Sport mode gives me the perfect gear nearly every time. And it does so without unnecessarily hanging onto gears and generating awful engine noise. Nor does it lock out sixth gear.

I rarely want a huge kickdown, but I also don't want gear selection mandated by a fuel economy drive cycle, which is too common these days. Sport is the perfect solution. And if I want the kickdown, it's still available.

Five years ago I would have gone on a tangent here about how stupid the automatic transmission is. Put your foot to the floor and what's the first thing it does? Slow down. While it finds the right gear. Seems like the wrong answer when the driver is asking for maximum acceleration. But I'm not going on that tangent again. I must be getting old. At least I'm not the only one.

Also, and this I'll never figure out, why is it every time I get into one of our long-term cars some previous driver has jacked up either the balance or the fader or both on the car's audio system? Sound is always biased to one side or the other or to the front or the back. And not just a little bit, either. Oh no, it's full honk from the front left speaker. I swear it's making me even less balanced. The G8's system was set full front when I got into it last week. I bet it's the same guy who sets all nav systems to "avoid freeways."

Sheesh.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2008 Pontiac G8: The Car for the "Transporter"

May 29, 2009

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A few weeks ago, I was flipping through channels on TV and stopped on The Transporter. It was a 2002 film starring Jason Statham; his ex-military character earns a living by driving potentially illegal packages or cargo around Europe using a manual-shift BMW 730i and not asking any questions.

I was actually driving our long-term 750i at the time, and The Transporter also made me think of BMW's series of The Hire short films from 2001 and 2002 starring Clive Owen. After a bit of contemplation, I decided that neither the "transporter" nor the "hire" would drive a 2009 750i. As capable as it is, there's just too much technology in it. It's not a true driver's car.

I could see them driving a Pontiac G8, though. Like a 7 Series, it's big, roomy and an exceptionally handling car for its size. But it's not overly pretentious like a new 7 can seem. Not too many other motorists notice our black G8, either, so one can dip into the V8's extensive power reserves without drawing much attention. Plus, you can get a manual transmission in the GXP version, something BMW no longer bothers with for the new 750i. If there any real "tranporters" or "hires" out there, this is the car for you.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Suspension Walkaround

May 08, 2009

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I know I've done a lot of these lately, but the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT is this week's COW, so I couldn't possibly let it slip by. Besides, these wheelwells actually contain a few interesting tidbits to talk about.

But that's not apparent from this overall view of the front suspension. It looks like a garden-variety front strut setup from here.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: The Words Between The Numbers

May 07, 2009

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If nothing else, Pontiac's departure from this earthly coil reminds us of the variety available to the car-buying public.

By nearly any measure on paper, our long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 and 2008 Mitsubishi Evo MR are doppelgangers. Acceleration is dead heat between the two, both are four-doors, have six-speed transmissions, heck, even the detailing down to the grille trim is similar. Furthermore, both haven proven robust.

We always put words between the numbers, though, and those words (hopefully) have spoken of a vast difference in driving character between these rides. Our comparison test of the Evo MR vs the G8 GXP last year demonstrated just how different two high-performance sedans at the same price point can be.

That test was with the GXP, though, and our long-term G8 is a GT. Still, aside from the GXP's faster numbers, they're very obviously cut from the same cloth. They're fraternal twins--one simply ended up more athletic than the other.

By contrast, the Evo is an entirely different animal from the Lancer upon which it is based. It's a Lancer in the way that the Six Million Dollar Man is a human male.

There's one thing that really separates the G8 GT and the Evo MR, and that's the fact that the MSRP of the GT undercuts the MR by ten grand. That's such a big difference that it might make you reevaluate how much you're willing to spend for the Evo's sharper character.

For me, the transmission clinches it. The Evo's all wheel-drive traction and twin-clutch gearbox puts it in another galaxy compared to the G8 GT's autobox. Sure, the GT has a shift-it-yourself mode, but it's sluggish, lacks paddles and the console shifter is logic-reversed.

What say you, fine IL LT blog reader--among the G8 GT, G8 GXP and Evo MR, which ride hits your sweet spot and why?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 20,771 miles.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Things I Don't Like

May 07, 2009

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If you've been following our long-term test of the G8 GT, you've probably noticed that I really like this car. The definitive post was this one, where I argued that anyone in the market for a V6-powered family sedan should buy a G8 GT instead. In the open thread, reader gregnv asked how the G8 GT compares to the Camry V6, VW CC 2.0T, Accord V6, and Maxima. Answer: I'd much rather have the G8 GT than any of the above. V8 power + RWD + badass looks + enormous backseat = no-brainer for the pragmatic enthusiast.

But there are a few things I could do without. Here's three.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Read This While You Can

May 03, 2009

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Our long-term Pontiac G8 GT is well-liked by our staff. We appreciate its 6.0-liter 361-horsepower V8 engine and the way it boldly goes forth when you put your foot on it.

Sure, it has its quirks. But isn't it often the imperfections in people that make them more endearing?

It has a lot of features that I believe an American car should have: V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, roomy interior, a nice low rumble, good loud audio system, the ability to lay 40 feet of rubber -- even if some of that comes by way of Oz.

But it hit the streets a little too late.

It's sad to think this will be the last Pontiac we ever own. Despite all the reasons why the brand failed, it had a good run and will always be a part of automotive history. I can't help feeling bad that Pontiac is going away.

Somewhere in car-guy heaven, Smokey Yunick is weeping.

This, our Pontiac G8, will also be leaving the fleet soon. Let's give it some love as car of the week.

Have you ever owned a Pontiac?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Hit 20K as GM Sealed Pontiac's Fate

April 28, 2009

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Pontiac is dying, and unless it gets reincarnated as an Impala SS or Chevelle SS, the G8 is dying, too, at least in the U.S. But our long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 GT is still very much alive. Late last week it hit the 20,000-mile mark and we're late in celebrating the milestone.

One of our editors reports that the front brake rotors may be slightly out of round, so we'll have them checked out soon. Other than that, our full-size Pontiac is still incredibly satisfying to drive. The 6.0-liter V8 still moves the 4,000-pound car around with authority -- 385 pound-feet of torque will do that for you.

And I still like the chassis a lot. For a car with so much interior room, our G8 GT drives small. One other thing that hasn't changed: the G8's fussy, Aussie-market stereo controls. Couldn't I just have a tuning knob?

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Muscle

March 16, 2009

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Let me tell you what Melba Toast is packin' right here, all right. We got 4:11 Positrac out back, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored 30 over, 11:1 pop-up pistons, turbo jet 390 horsepower. We're talkin' some....muscle.

Well, OK, none of that is true. But David Wooderson would be proud of the G8's (ahem), muscle, nonetheless.

What we really got here is 2.92:1 limited-slip, multi-port fuel injection, plastic intake manifold, stock 3.99-inch bore, 10.4:1 compression and a bulldozing 361 horsepower. And it's more than enough turn rubber to smoke, thank you very much.

This burnout is brought to you by Austin, Texas-based wedding and event photographer David Hill and is sponsored by Bridgestone.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 19,874

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Knuckle-dragger Approved

January 07, 2009

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Hello, my name is Kurt and I like V8's, pushrods, breathing through my mouth and doing burnouts.

(photo by Mike Magrath)

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 16,315 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: GXP-Killer

December 22, 2008

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I had high hopes for the new Pontiac G8 GXP when I first heard about it. Corvette engine, FE3 suspension, optional manual shifter -- what's not to like? But now that I've driven both GXP flavors (manual and auto), I really don't see the point. The G8 GT is nearly as capable and fun as the GXP, it looks the same, and it stickers for eight or nine grand less.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: If the G8 Goes, I'm Moving to Australia

December 08, 2008

g8onskylineroad.jpg When I returned from my Napa Valley adventure in our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT, I'd logged over 1,000 miles. It's only 400 miles from LA to Napa, so chalk the extra 200 up to the fact that I have no sense of scale when I read a map. If a road looks cool and I'm driving a car that's fit for it, I'll go there even it takes me way off course.

The G8 is certainly fit. I really like the crisp turn-in and the way it feels balanced even through tight turns -- I mean, this is a two-ton car. I like the way the back end will come around if you dip into the power when the stability control is off. I like the weighting of the steering on-center, off-center and at any speed.

Even the brake pedal feel is pretty good, though under moderate inputs on twisty descents, I noticed some light shuddering that suggests the brakes aren't new anymore. The only other thing I'll complain about is that while shifts are quicker and more positive in the transmission's sport and manual modes, there's still some delay. It's not an issue on the highway, but on back roads, you notice it. Wish we had a manual gearbox option as on the Holden and Vauxhall/Opel versions, or the GXP (edit after the fact).

But the only thing that really bothered me during Friday's drive was the traffic on Highway 29 near Calistoga. I just wanted some alone time with the G8, OK? So I drove through San Francisco so I could get some more time on lovely Skyline Blvd. That landed me on Highway 85 just in time for evening gridlock. I didn't get back to LA until 11 p.m.

Fortunately, the driving position in the G8 is excellent and helped ward off fatigue. The cowl is low, the funky steering wheel is actually comfortable to hold, and though the back cushion could stand some more firm support, the driver seat is pretty good, too. The only addition I'd like in here is a nav system, which would have remedied my cartographical challenges.

Best tank on trip was 20.9 mpg; worst was 17.6 mpg. And the quart of oil I added in St. Helena was exactly what the car needed -- oil level is now exactly where it should be.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Feels Best at 92 MPH

December 04, 2008

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I drove our long-term Pontiac G8 GT 420 miles to the Napa Valley yesterday -- St. Helena to be exact -- and I am quite happy with my choice. The G8 is an excellent high-speed cruiser. The cabin is quiet and the seats are wide and roomy, yet supportive enough for a half-day behind the wheel.

Though I know the suspension was softened somewhat from the Holden version, there's still an edge to it that I didn't quite expect from such a big car. Whenever I hit a rut or joint, I felt the exact shape, size and severity of the impact through the driver seat. It's fine, though. And far better than an isolating ride.

Every time my thoughts drifted slightly from the task at hand, I'd look down to see I was traveling at 92 mph. So I think this is the car's happy zone. Of course, I often added to this during passing maneuvers, and the 6.0-liter V8 showed few signs of strain. It reminded me of my inaugural road trip in the GT-R. I grew to like the small-block V8's low roar, too.

I'd neglected to check the oil before leaving, so I tended to this after fueling up in St. Helena. It was indeed low -- oil registered on the dipstick but below the "low" mark. I bought a quart of 5W30 and added half of it. I drove a couple miles more to my hotel and checked it again. Still low. So I added the rest and will recheck before leaving town.

The car's fuel log indicates that Brian Moody also added a quart at 10,693 miles, so apparently, the G8 does like some oil between changes. (It was last serviced at 11,247 miles.) At least, it's the regular old stuff that you can buy at any gas station.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: All the Pretty Horses Mock Me

December 01, 2008

G8 GT's 361 horses wait to be unleashed

After about a week with the Pontiac G8 GT, I've decided that it's not the kind of "family sedan" I would ever choose to own. Don't get me wrong, I can definitely see its appeal: plenty fast, looks great, roomy back seat.

But there are also a lot things that I don't like, and they outweigh the elements that I do like.

Here they are:

1. It feels too big and heavy.

2. Side view mirrors are too small.

3. Upshifts to second and third gear felt a little rough to me, even when I was really being consistently easy on the throttle.

4. Fuel economy during my personal commute scenario (usually 30-45 minutes of stop-and-go on city streets) is unacceptable for a sedan in my garage (I just updated our long-term fuel log for the G8; we're up to 17.2 mpg combined).

But the characteristic that most turns me off is this. While idling at stoplights, the whole car rumbles and jiggles ever so slightly as the 361 horses make me quite aware that they are impatiently tapping their hooves and rolling their eyes waiting for me to mash the throttle and get on with it already. It's just not the kind of feeling that I want in my everyday runaround car. But that's just me.

There's a lot of talk about the G8 GT being a great, fun-to-drive family car option. But IMHO, it's only a family car if the main driver of the car needs the fun of a performance-oriented sedan, has a higher speed highway commute and shuttles the family only occasionally. Maybe that's just perfect for your life, it doesn't work for mine. If I really had my heart set on a G8, I'd probably get the base model. The GT's just got too much power.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 13,657 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Stalking the Turn Signal Stalk

November 24, 2008

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The Pontiac G8 nails most of the big things. Great price, tight handling, eager engine. This weekend marked my first time behind the wheel, and I was pretty taken. This Pontiac knows how to bring the funzies. I wish it came with a radar detector.

It nails some of the smaller things, as well. Though its center stack is a jumble and there are a few misaligned panels present, I like the overall look of the cabin. And I love the turn signal stalk, which feels supple and perfectly weighted. It's the kind of stalk that feels like it belongs in a more expensive sedan, and using it was a pleasure. L.A. drivers are notorious for their unwillingness to signal when making lane changes. Maybe the cure for this irritating habit lies with the G8, and its well-made stalk.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 13,413 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: An American Car I Would Consider Buying

November 21, 2008

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I hadn't really secured much seat time in the G8 lately, so I signed it out for a couple days of commuting to the LA Auto Show. And you know what? Jordan was right, this G8 is dialed in nicely. It doesn't really hit you right away, but after getting a taste of some heavy traffic, a few wide open blasts on the freeway and some basic errand running, I was really starting to like the way the G8 handles itself. The steering, the brakes, the suspension - it's all dead on. Not perfect, but pretty close to it for a $30K sedan of its size.

The engine is a bit of a sleeper too. Around town it just lays there without making much noise at all. Then you lay into it and it roars to life, twitching the tail and leaving marks on the street. The sound it makes could use some tweaking as it's more of a thrashy, V6 racket than a V8 rumble, but that's easily fixable. I didn't get a chance to try out the G8 GXP that stopped by recently, but if it's even a little better than our G8 GT, I would seriously consider buying it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 13,361 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Flat-out, Belly to the Ground

November 18, 2008

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If Smokey Yunick were still building NASCAR racing cars (or, you know, even alive), the 2008 Pontiac G8 would be his car. It's so American (yes, I know it's from Australia), lean and quick in a way that makes a BMW 5 Series seem as inert as a lump of depleted uranium.

Smokey Yunick was one of the great characters in American racing, enormously energetic, incredibly profane, and with the gift of thinking outside the box (some people call it cheating). He's remembered now for his '67 Chevy Chevelle racing car that had been built in 7/8's scale to make it more aerodynamic (NASCAR officials were not amused), a car so famous that Will Ferrell's Talledega Nights features a replica in Smokey's signature black-and-gold racing colors.

But it's also worth remembering that Smokey Yunick put Pontiac on the map in the 1960s. When GM's Bunkie Knudson was assigned to revive the Pontiac division's fortunes in the late 1950s, he quickly sent off a truckload of parts to Smokey's "Best Damn Garage in Town," in Daytona Beach, Florida. Yunick built the Pontiac Catalina into a powerhouse, and his car won the 1962 Daytona 500 with Daytona Beach's own legendary Fireball Roberts in the driver seat (pictured above). Roberts ran the race perfectly, Yunick famously said to the press, "He just drove her flat out, belly to the ground, as we had planned."

It was all a very long time ago, but it's a reminder of what Pontiac is meant to be about - fast, trimmed out, and a little smarter than the rest. Now that plenty of soulless accountants are calling for Pontiac to be relegated to the trash heap of history, Yunick's black-and-gold Catalina reminds us that Pontiac was once one of the strongest car brands in America, and it came from thinking outside the box.

That's what I like about the Pontiac G8. It thinks outside the box, combining parts and resources from GM in a unique and compelling way. In fact, it's the kind of car that you could build a brand around. Maybe we should fit our black 2008 Pontiac G8 GT with some gold wheels, you think? It would remind the accountants that there's still some magic left in Pontiac.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 13,200 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8: Pavement Painter

November 14, 2008

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40 feet.

Longer, but less rubber than the CTS' 38-foot shot.

Don't worry, Camry and Accord owners, your car will never do that. Aura 3.6 owners, maybe.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Is It Really Better Than the Accord?

October 01, 2008

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Of course, the answer is yes. By a lot. As soon as I got into our long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 GT, I was immediately reacquainted with all the reasons someone might want to own something more fun than a front-drive, midsize sedan. The G8 feels much quicker (because it is) and throttle response is much more aggressive. And you can tell the chassis is something special, even just driving around town.

But then I had two more thoughts.

1. The G8's steering wheel is way too big, and the shape of the rim makes for a slightly awkward grip at nine-and-three. The Accord's smaller steering wheel is actually much more natural to hold at this position.

2. The brake pedal travel is too long, and response is way too soft at the top of the travel. Even around town, I was annoyed. And remember, I'm coming out of the Accord, which doesn't exactly set the standard for brake pedal feel or braking performance.

Both of these complaints could and should be addressed in a mid-cycle update of the Pontiac G8.

Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 10,560 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: How it Should Be Done

September 16, 2008

270 speedo square.jpg   270 GT-R speedo square.jpg

A few weeks back I harped on the wonky speedometer in the Nissan GT-R. The only part anyone'd regularly use without being hauled to the slammer is mired in the soup at the bottom, and steadfastly equal spacing throughout the 220 mph sweep means the daily-use part comprises less than 90 degrees. I scrounged an old Audi photo to show how it should be done.

Add our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT to the "done correctly" list. It's an 180 mph speedo--faster than any of us will ever go, yet Pontiac's use of unequal spacing--10 mph increments up to 100 mph, 20 mph increments thereafter--means that the usable portion is spread over 150 degrees. And the speeds at which we usually travel on the highway are right at the top, as they should be.

Here's another thing this Pontiac G8 GT currently does better than our GT-R: it runs.

Dan Edmunds, DIrector of Vehicle Testing @ 9333 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Old School Luxury Car Brake Action

September 11, 2008

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For all the things done right in the 2008 Pontiac G8, the "Buick-circa-1988" squooshy brake pedal is made that much more incongruous. The bite over the initial inch or so of pedal travel is largely nonexistent. It's like stepping on a Care Bear.

Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh @ 9,243 miles.

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Fill It Up Regular

September 09, 2008

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There's been plenty reported on the impressive or depressing mileage (depends on your point of view) of our V8-powered 362 hp 2008 Pontiac G8 GT. But one thing that has not been mentioned is that this sedan runs on regular gasoline. 87 octane. Yeah, the cheap stuff. Let's see a BMW do that.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 9,001 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: V6 Family Sedans, Eat Your Hearts Out

August 25, 2008

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Most family sedans these days are of the four-cylinder variety, and for good reason: modern four-bangers generally have decent pickup, they're more affordable, and their fuel economy is superior. So people who buy V6-powered family sedans are a special breed. They want something quicker, something sportier perhaps -- and they're not afraid to pay for it, whether at the dealership or the gas pump.

After a tire-smoke-obscured weekend in our long-term G8 GT, I have this to say to would-be V6 family sedan buyers: Buy the G8 GT instead.

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2008 Pontiac G8: A Bit of Throttle Lag

August 18, 2008

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This weekend was the most time I've ever spent in our 2008 Pontiac G8. And I have to say that yes, that car can go pretty fast. Really easy to move in and out of traffic, jump onto the freeway in front of fast-moving cars and hit those extra-legal speeds. In fact it seemed at its best when it was going fast.

Only a few things about it that I wasn't crazy about is that it seemed like the throttle had a bit of a lag like when I was trying to backup. If I carefully touched the throttle, like I usually do when going in reverse, nothing would happen. And so when I went to press down more, the car would suddenly lunge backward with the engine revving. One time I did that I felt obliged to apologize to my passenger. She had thought that I was trying to pull a 180 just to get to that parking spot behind us right quick. "Calm down, Caroline. We'll get that spot. Eesh," she said.

My other gripes are the radio controls which another editor had already blogged about and that huge battery/oil display that takes up space in the center of the dash. Do we really need that there? Every time I'd go to glance at the time I had to remember it's not up there, it's located in the radio display.

Oh, and our G8 received a number of compliments when it was out and about this weekend. One time I parked in front of a Toyota dealership and one of the Toyota guys pulling up in a stickered Highlander pulled alongside me, "Is that the G6?" "It's the G8," I replied. "That's a good-looking car!" he said but not in a surprised way. And in another instance my friend who was walking me back to my car said that it looked like a Mercedes. But then again, it was kinda dark outside.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 7,750 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: FIXED!

July 25, 2008

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Fourteen (14) days ago I dropped our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT at Martin Cadillac in Los Angeles to fix a malfunctioning traction control with the promise of a quick, easy fix and same day return. Wednesday night we picked up our Pontiac, fixed, from Hooman Pontiac in Culver City.

What follows is a tale of deceit, frustration, anger, a damn-fine commitment to service from Pontiac and international espionage, though that last bit can't be discussed...

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Traction (control) Trouble

July 11, 2008

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Who doesn't love a good powerslide? I mean good, smoky, high-speed hooliganism. The type of slide where slip angle matches velocity and the road is coming at the driver through one of the side windows.

Problem is, they're not the most low-key form of driving excitement. The neighbors, and the local constabulary, may take notice if someone were to enter their neighborhood in this fashion. (Click picture above for larger image)

Our long-term Pontiac G8 cares not for neighbors or the police. We have, apparently, been too kind to our V8. On the way home the other night with Executive Editor Michael Jordan, the G8 decided to live on the wild side and turn the traction control off. By itself. On the highway. It wants us to be bad. It's daring us.

If it starts calling us Dave, though, I'm driving it into the ocean.

While some of our staffers thought this would be great fun, other more rational heads prevailed and I took it to the Martin Automotive Group in Los Angeles.

"Does it have aftermarket wheels?" our service advisor asked. Nope. "Is it lowered?" Nope. "Hmm, this is the first time I've seen this issue on a car without rims or a lowering kit. It's a common issue on the CTS and this car with big wheels or when lowered."

By 'this issue' he means a failed wheel-speed sensor. The issue he's talking about is a malfunctioning wheel-speed sensor that talks to the stability control system. He said that it was an easy fix and we'd have it back later this afternoon.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 6,626 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: The Dilemma

June 30, 2008

2008 Pontiac G8 GT -- Brent Romans

I've been fortunate enough to be driving our G8 GT for almost two weeks now. And I've been wondering: If I were in the market for a midsize or family sedan for about $30,000, would I buy a G8?

The car enthusiast part of me loves the G8's muscular styling, rear-drive and V8. Want to break the rear tires loose while doing a U-turn? Click off the stability control, manually select 1st and you're good to go... Or what about going from barely legal speeds on the highway to highly illegal speeds? As Han says to Chewie in The Empire Strikes Back, "Punch it!"

But the practical side of me isn't so sure. The interior, though respectable, still has some drawbacks. There's also fuel economy, insurance and reliability to think of. Would I end up with an Accord, Maxima or Passat instead?

I'll be putting another 600 total miles on the G8 later this week while taking my wife and daughter to visit family for the 4th of July. It should be a good test.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,214 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Feels the Potholes

May 21, 2008

Photo by Doug Lloyd

The above photo is supposed to illustrate a suspension, but I wasn't prepared to remove the wheel. Because the suspension on our long-term 2008 Pontiac G8 GT is a bit confounding to me. I drove it last night in Los Angeles' hateful, seething, evil, boiling cauldron of vile commuter traffic. The G8 was relatively comforting, nice stereo, all that...

But every time I hit a pothole, it felt as if the car had fallen INTO it. And every bump? WHAM! Imperfection? SMACK! Bump? BIFF! If I had dentures, they would have fallen out, and as it was, the glovebox actually popped open. What is up with that?

I assume this is either due to the sport suspension or maybe the combination of summer tires on 19-inch rims. Later in the evening, at higher speeds, the car was as pleasant as could be, and of course, as powerful as I needed it to be. I guess it just hates slow-moving commuter traffic as much as I do.

Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 3,927 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8: Hey, what's the redline on that thing?

May 19, 2008

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Those who saw my last post on our long-term Pontiac will recall that I was hitting the G8 Kool-Aid pretty hard that day. After spending a weekend with the car, I still think it's a genuine performance bargain for $32k. It's definitely got some quirks though. One that particularly bugs me is the lack of a redline on the tachometer... Yeah, I know -- it's an automatic, so a redline isn't really necessary. (Incidentally, Lotus seems to think it's not even necessary with a stick; the Elise SC, for example, is also redline-less). But still, aren't you curious? And when your gearhead friends say, "Hey, what's the redline on that thing?", don't you want to have an answer?

I did figure it out, but it took some work. After a number of tire-smoking acceleration runs (hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it), I confirmed our test team's conclusion that the G8 GT won't spin past 6,000 rpm. But still, it would have been a lot easier (and cooler) to have that information displayed on the tach. I feel like it's not unreasonable to expect a clearly labeled redline on a car like this.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 3,842 miles

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2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Performance Testing.

May 15, 2008

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Looks good sideways at 70, don't it?

Interested to see what sort of numbers it managed when the tires stuck and the Pontiac didn't disappear in a cloud of tire smoke?

Got a guess at its 0-60? 1/4 mile? Braking? Think about it and then follow the link for results and some poorly filmed video!

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