Lieberman: I knew the formula going in. Big V8, rear wheel drive, well sorted chassis, designed and built in Australia before being tarted up with a Pontiac badge. We’ve seen this before, too. Bob Lutz did the same thing with a Holden Monaro when Pontiac rebadged it as a GTO. Yet even though that car had massive power, the new Goat always left me a bit flat. Or is that cold? But this G8 GT is different. The more time I spent behind the wheel, the more I dug it. Straight line, twisty canyon bits or even just commuting around town on the freeway, the G8 was splendid. Pontiac has a very serious driver’s car on their hands.
Levy: Even knowing the formula, the immediate impression of the G8 GT once you get behind the wheel is unexpected. Get in a Corvette, even the Z06 (and we’ve heard $100k plus ZR1 — don’t know ‘cos we didn’t get the invite!), and the seats are Barcalounger squishy while the dash materials and styling are only one step up from a Cavalier. Not so with the G8 GT. Think somewhere between Volkswagen and Audi in both design and feel. The door clunks shut like BMWs we remember, the seats are firm and there’s an understated techno look. Crank the key and disappointingly the V8 lacks the start drama of the Vette’s (kinda) related V8, but the disappointment is short lived. Roll away and there’s immediate Eurostyle meat to the steering. Then you crack the throttle and its pure steak and potatoes American.
Lieberman: 100% agreed on the interior. Aside from the lack of a third pedal, nothing lets you down. In fact, I prefer the G8′s fashion statement to say Audi’s, because Pontiac isn’t bothering with the industry standard faux-luxury. Instead, it’s pure function and tangible quality. But a winning interior isn’t enough — that’s VW’s formula. While the G8 is no looker, it’s miles better than the non-descript GTO that preceded it. I can’t get over the face — which Dan Neil described thusly, “I think the supernumerary nostrils and front end design are small calamities. I could remodel this thing with a sledge hammer with good results.” But the sides and rear are quite butch and handsome without being overwrought. Aside from the badge, the G8 GT still provides the aggressive driver a good deal of stealth. And then you crack open that throttle…
Levy: I like the face. It’s got some Japanese, think EVO or GT-R, drama to it, and Dan was just getting melodramatic. From the front the fender flares are pronounced. I’m undecided on the side view, it’s vaguely handsome though a little generic, but at least upmarket in a 5-Series or E-Class style — not Camry/Accord/Altima generic. And the Pontiac’s actually quite big, inside and out. Plenty of room for my three kids to kick and scream in the back without disturbing me. Much closer to the size of a 5-Series than closer in price 3-Series. Speaking of looks, why did they send us one in that god-awful AARP burgundy metallic color? It’s horrid, and the third car I’ve driven in a month with that paint. Hate it. But do like the burnt orange metallic that I’ve seen on a couple running around LA. And I’d drop the chrome brightwork for some more sporty black stuff. But going back to cracking the throttle… Honestly I was expecting more. Sure the noise is rousing, but I wanted the car to move faster. I did a couple of side by side acceleration runs with a 2009 Maxima SE that has about 70hp less and they were dead even. I expected a little better from the G8, not to say that it was bad. Freeway cruising is its specialty though — it will eat the miles. Though where the G8 really comes alive is in the turns.