2008 Pontiac G8 test drive

The brand new 2008 Pontiac G8 is a lovely car with tons of power, respectively 361 BHP for the 6 liter V8 and 256 BHP for the 3.5 liter V6. To enjoy and control all this power the G8 is putting at your disposal all the modern features you would only expect in a German sedan: multi-link suspension, ventilated disk brakes and rear wheel drive propulsion.

Pontiac G8 test drive

Priced at $33k for the loaded V8 model, this new Pontiac G8 cannot be ignored, that’s why we went all the way to San Diego to test it for ourselves. (full road test after after the jump)

As soon as you get close to the G8 you know it’s a looker, with two large hood vents, clear headlamps, fog lamps, aerodynamic body kit all around and flare fenders, you know the G8 will attract the crowd.

Pontiac G8 test drive

Not that there is anything wrong looking all sporty, but as we’ll see later the G8 is more a GT than a super car, so the boy racer artifacts could have been saved for a sportier GXP version. The aluminum wheels 18 inch standard and 19 optional fit the car nicely and for once the ’smaller’ V6 version has nothing to be ashamed of as it looks exactly the same as its V8 brother. Differences will only be picked up by the Pontiac fanatics: additional chrome on the door handles, quad tail pipes, clear tail lights and unique wheel design for the V8 version.

Pontiac G8 test drive

When you get into the G8 cabin, you find a very roomy interior with quality materials that are pleasant to the eye and to the touch.

Some might think the interior design feels a bit old but we’ll say it is conservative and we love it just like that. Better clean and sober than funky and flashy, we are here to play with the V8, not the cabin gizmos.

Pontiac G8 test drive

The speedo and rev counter dials come standard black with white print, unless you ask for the red leather seat inserts, in which case the dials will receive a red finish as well. Personally I prefer it all black. The seats are very comfy and they perform their duty nicely when you start shaking the beast on the back roads, but we’ll come to that later.

Pontiac G8 test drive

One nice little detail about the seats is that they can be raised or lowered electrically both front (knees) and back, (bottom) compared to most cars that only offer you to control the back part, resulting in awkward driving position if you like to seat low, as we do. That is a great feature. Too bad that the seats do not take advantage of the big legroom of the passengers seats to better slide backward. For instance the passenger seat reached its limit sliding back, as there it as 15 inches away from rear passenger seats.

The central console bits and buttons are straight forward, old school thus well placed, and you should be able to control everything within a few minutes.

Pontiac G8 test drive

The steering wheel controls are ok, but...

When it comes to get a good grip on the steering wheel, that’s a no no.

There are no special ’palm rest’ located at ’10’ and ’2’ o’clock, and even worst at ’9’ and ’3’ o’clock you cannot grab the wheel with your thumbs properly, because that area is pushed forward and angled at 45 degree so only half an inch of your thumbs can really reach in. That’s the kind of detail that will put off the boy racers that we are, but GT buyer might like it...


One last word for the boy racers planning to take their G8 on twisty roads. The bulky A pillar located far from the driver seat creates a big blind spot when taking sharp left turns. You will hardly notice it while driving straight on the highway, but on twisty roads, be ready to stretch your head toward the center of the car if you want to see where you are going.


Both V8 and V6 have impressive chassis and suspensions which combined together offer a great deal of comfort on the highway and control on the twisty roads.

The chassis could easily deal with a stiffer suspension choice to bring even better driving pleasure, but the Pontiac engineer told us that this might be too painful for those who drive on poor pavements. So if you can tolerate the pain or are lucky enough to live in an area where the road are still in good condition, you should go for it.

Even with the standard mild suspension settings, you will only start thinking about the limit of this car when you are way over the legal speed limit... From today’s drive experience I would say a good 30mph to 40 mph over :). The V8 version will get you past 100MPH in no time and the V6 you will put you into trouble with the law quickly but you should be able to keep your license as it gets sluggish past 75mph and the screaming of the V6 is more a call for help, asking for a gear change than a roar of pleasure asking for more.


Speaking about the gearbox, it will do a smooth job on the highway or while commuting but for enthusiast, it’s really not quick enough.

If you use the manual mode, changing gears will only get you frustrated. Even though Pontiac was thoughtful and installed a gearbox that will hold gears when you hit the rev’ limiter, and blip the throttle on down shift to bring the engine up to ’rev’. We found the gear box so slow that we completely stopped playing with it after a few miles or simply stuck it into one gear in the fear of frustration. The down shift for example is so conservative that even thought the rev limiter is around 65000RPM on the V6, the gear box would not down shift before you go below 3500RPM...not enough to really stay in the power zone.

Pontiac G8 test drive

Too bad the gear box was not more cooperative the car handles very nicely and its ability to take corners at high speed is very impressive. The steering is doing a pretty good job, even though we sensed some kind of dead spot at 12 o’clock and poor feedback made it hard to find those apexes. No doubt that after a few days of ownership the driver will get used to this dead center and automatically deal with it, but when you just have a few miles to drive the car, it makes it a lot slower to predict the car behavior.


Thankfully the chassis and brakes are doing such a great job that we stayed confident and floored the G8 without any worries.

Pontiac was generous on the brakes, mounting ventilated disks on all four wheels of the V8 and V6 as well.

To resume the Pontiac G8 is a great bargain, especially when you think about the 361HP V8 engine. At a mere 30 grant you are driving a large 361hp 4 door GT. Note that I am saying GT and not sports car. If you are looking for real sports, you will certainly end up being deceived by the slow gear changes, almost too comfortable suspensions and poor steering feel. But if you are buying a GT to drive everyday, you will enjoy the smooth ride and sheer power of the V8.

Pontiac G8 test drive

I highly recommend the V8 as it brings so much fun in the picture, not to mention that changing the exhaust and air intake would certainly bring this baby in the 400BHP!

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It is very strong at low RPM, it roars in the high revs and even fuel economy is not bad (15/24) thanks to cylinder deactivation technology. Nevertheless if you sold your soul or you are traumatized by your hybrid co-workers and tempted by the V6 option, be aware that it does the job but it feels flat in the high revs and could almost make you thing that you are driving a 4 cylinder. Note that I say ’feel’, as it will get you up to proper speed and performance, but believe me you do not want to hear it after you have experienced the V8... buy the V8!

Pontiac G8 test drive

17 comments:

yea well you have a pretty respectable car yourself. the subaru is one of the tuners i have serious respect for.

double D, jtm, My 2000 WRX runs the quarter mile at 115mph and that is with only 310 hp and four cylinders.And I achieved the 310hp without touching the turbo. All I had to do was improve the intake and the exhaust(and that by the way is a 2.2L engine). Sure a V8 will produce a higher outut but that does not necessarily mean it can improve the torque, which is what actually moves a vehicle.

Now you could say I don’t have a performance car like that but hey, your words won’t make a car disappear.

But, I suppose 30 grand is a good price for 360hp car.I also read somewhere that modified versions of this car are are being sold in the UK and they deliver 680hp. That is something I can respect.

i would hope this car would run faster than a 5.8 0-60... thats a little disappointing

ak i will agree with you on that... the evo is a kick car no doubt... also subaru and the skyline impress me and the s2000 but other than that i’m just more of a fan of v-8’s the 4 cylinders can achieve great power and response if tuned properly but that takes time and money... thats why i’m a fan of the v-8 but then again a v-8 gets ty gas mileage so either way you look at it both engines have drawbacks... and positives

you guys should see the original g8 called the holden commodore, if your interested go to

wow. so my messages were deleted? Why?

Actually, here’s a video that shows a modded VXR8 (supercharger and god knows what else).

I mean DAAAAAAAYAM

anyone interested should do a search for Vauxhall or Holden and the words Monaro, Commodore or VXR8.... this is basically an Australian muscle car with excellent balance, and a detuned LS3 Corvette engine in it. Pontiac has re-badged and flown over here. And that’s a great thing. I’m not sure what these guys are talking about in terms of what they see wrong with the car. Read Road and Track or even Edmunds for a more professional review, this review is littered with gaffes, type-o’s and misused words. As for comparing this thing to any sort of awd saloon, that’s absurd. Go drive an M5, or an Audi R class and THOSE are the cars you should be comparing. Oh and that GTO some of you are arguing about being the only really good Pontiac? That’s a Holden too....I’m buying on of these things plain and simple. 5.5 secs, V8 snarl and excellent build quality for a bit over 30grand. Hell yes.

jee8 you probably havent driven the 2004 gto pontiac. read my former comment and take my advise.

and jtm0711. you are probably the type who likes american muscle cars which whether you like it or not brings the expression ’all brawn no brain’ to mind so iam not going to bother argueing why the japanese use turbos and all that. however good luck with your theory, iam sure some other buffon will agree with you.BUT i will say this and these are facts " the evo 7 with its 2litre 4 cylinder can outrun cars like ferarri modenna 360.the evo 8 does 0to 60 in 3.5 seconds and can hold its own against a LAMBORGHINI MUCIELAGO. this is no joke.i have got nothing against V8’s but you should try to keep an open mind.

Jee8 you are the bigger moron, why dont you shove the G8 up your rear end. it might help you see the other good cars out there. however being good natured i will say that the pontiac in XXX is better. i havent driven it of course but it looks good.as for the car itself i was referring to its gear response other pontiacs are usually bearable.OR maybe you are just pissed because i insulted THE MARINE which is probably your favourite movie in which case i dont have anything more to say to you.

the only thing i read was wrong was that the transmision was sluggish,big deal, this thing will spank an r/t charger and run with an srt. And it looks better to. show me any car in this price range from either side of the pond that will run 105mph in the quarter mile.

Can you get it with Navigation? That is really important to me. Most modern cars in this price range, and even lower, at least have it as an option. Or is GM behind the times again?

once again a v-8 will outproduce any four or six cylinder the japanese companies throw out there... you may argue that they have the same horsepower with a smaller engine but they the produce more decibles from their weed-eater sounding exhaust than they have lbs of torque and all of that is achieved thru turbos and inter coolers... put that work in a v-8 and see what it does

At AK47
If you think Pontiac cars are usually good, then you’re a moron. Thereby disqualifying your opinion on any other subject. I’ve been in a G8 and it is much better than any other Pontiac.

is there gonna be a 6spd MT??

what the hell is wrong with you people. from the review above is there really anything good about this car? its not even worth 30 grand!
pontiac cars are usually good but this one is cheaper than the movie the marine.

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