2008 Pontiac G8 GT: GXP-Killer
December 22, 2008
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.
Check the track results. Our GT long-termer snaked through the slalom cones at 63.4 mph (leaving aside one anomalous 66.3-mph run), while the manual-shift GXP managed an essentially identical 63.6 mph (63.0 for the auto ). On the skidpad, the GT actually pulled a higher number than the stickshift GXP -- 0.86g to 0.84 (the GXP auto registered 0.87). Our man Edmunds opines that, numbers notwithstanding, the GXP's FE3 setup provides "better turn-in response and precision along with a reduced tendency toward understeer." Fair enough, but that's hardly worth an extra $9,000.
So what do you really get for the extra coin? Well, that Corvette V8, for one thing. Trouble is, the GT already has a chest-thumping 360-horsepower V8. Drop the hammer at any speed, and the GT takes a deep breath and charges forward like a runaway locomotive -- this is plenty of power, even by my warped enthusiast standards. The acceleration numbers reveal a distinct edge for the GXP -- 5.2 seconds to 60 mph with the stick and 4.9 with the slushbox, while the GT clocks in at 5.8 -- but in real-world driving, the GT's V8 is satisfying enough that you likely won't notice the extra ticks. Granted, it doesn't sound like a 'Vette, but that's nothing your local exhaust shop can't fix.
That leaves the availability of a six-speed manual as the GXP's trump card. It's a nice short-throw shifter, actually, with a great bolt-action feel through the gates. However, it comes paired with the lightest clutch this side of our not-so-dearly-departed Lancer GTS, and it's also an extra-cost option at $695. I'd definitely take the stick if it were available on the GT, but there's no way I'd pay an extra nine grand for the privilege of checking that option box.
If the GT didn't exist, the GXP would be an interesting proposition. I'd still prefer a stripper 335i -- same acceleration, better handling, much nicer interior -- but I wouldn't question the GXP's value. The $31,555 GT is so good, though, that I think the GXP would have to employ something like the Z06's 505-hp V8 to justify its price premium. Until that happens, I'll take a regular old GT, slap an aftermarket exhaust on it, and laugh all the way to the bank.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 15,455 miles