The Pontiac G8 GXP is a tremendous performance bargain, built with the best parts from the GM parts bin; the GXP offers owners quite possibly the best fun/dollar ratio on the market. It comes complete with a 19 inch Cadillac CTS-V inspired wheel and brake package as well as an LS3 V8 from a Chevrolet Corvette sending 415 HP to the rear wheels via an optional six-speed manual and a very racy limited slip differential. This is all good for a quarter mile time of 13 seconds flat at 108 MPH and a 0 to 60 MPH time of, with the luxury of four doors.
There was once a Car and Driver comparison with a subtitle that read: Dundee and Goliath: A dark knight from Down Under rattles the BMW M5, and you’ll never guess who builds it. The car that author Aaron Robinson was comparing with the luxury performance sedan back in 2001 was the Holden Commodore HSV GTS R 300. Think Cadillac Catera body on top of an LS1 Corvette power train and whatever other special parts that GM had ad their disposal. At the end of the article, the BMW squeezed ahead thanks only to fit and finish, but the fun to drive award went to the Holden. This was even more astounding because the special edition HSV was selling for only a fraction of the pride of the M lineup.
Since the turn of the century General Motors has invested heavily in their rear wheel drive platform and imported another Australian V8 super car, the Holden Monaro based GTO with LS1 power. After the initial test run, Pontiac brought over the 21st century goat’s cousin, the Commodore, except it was more commonly known at the G8, which is a tremendous performance sedan. With the recent demise of the brand the Pontiac G8 could go the same way as the ill-fated GTO, but if that means no more GXP we are going to have to ask Obama for our bail out money back. It would be just like an American automaker to kill a $37,610 sedan that makes a BMW M5 seem ridiculously overpriced. GM is offering a $3,500 cash incentive on all variations of the G8 Sedan.
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This particular Sport Red Metallic is a little less shocking than the bright orange GXP that hip hop sensation 50 cent drove onto the stage in New York alongside the Solstice coupe, but Stryker Blue Metallic would have to be our color of choice. The G8 is very aggressive looking vehicle in standard trim and the GXP is only accentuated by a set of ten spoke 19 inch polished aluminum rims that house a set of oversized Brembo brakes with a pair of four piston calipers finished in silver up front and wrapped in a 245/40 series Goodyear Eagle tires at all four corners.
The sleeper from Queensland flies under the radar except for the standard hood scoops and flared fenders, the only other cue at a V8 under the hood are the cleared out taillights that come standard on the GT but actually fit the GXP’s high performance image. The rear spoiler and dual exhaust are a few other carryovers from the standard GT variant although the rear diffuser is a bit more pronounced.
Our well-equipped Pontiac G8 GXP came with an Onyx interior. Instantaneously setting the GXP apart from lesser models are the large embroidered GXP logos on the leather wrapped sport buckets and aluminum clutch pedal, because it is the only G8 with a proper gearbox. The Pontiac design team dressed up the dash with an attractive piece of aluminum trim that rides right underneath the well laid out instrument cluster. The leather wrapped steering wheel is also a dream to hold on to, it is soft with just enough cushioning to be comfortable, but not squishy and the impressions for the driver’s palms work wonderfully.
Like all G8 models the GXP’s parking brake is built into the center console and hides away flush when not in use. However the very Z06 like shifter is not available on any other of the four door performance sedans. This leads up to another win for Detroit with the extremely appealing center stack that includes a Blaupunkt head unit and a decently sized LCD display. The interior is spacious like a full size sedan, but when the speedometer climbs everything shrinks around you transforming the GXP into a sports car.
Where the standard G8 GT is powered by a 6.0 Liter pushrod V8 that makes 361 HP, the high performance GXP has the Corvette’s 6.2 Liter LS3 V8 that sends 415 HP and 415 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel through an optional six speed manual to the rear wheels. The G8 GXP should be good for a 0 to 60 MPH time of about 4.7 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.0 seconds flat, but that kind of power isn’t about launching it off the line, which it is very capable of. The G8 GXP has the kind of thrust that allows it to keep accelerating when ordinary automobile’s engines are running out of breath.
Not only does the GXP accelerate amazingly but it handles just as well, with a suspension set up to pull 0.9 g’s of lateral grip, now that is a lot of stick for a 4050 pound vehicle. You can feel that weight when behind the wheel, by no means is the factory tuned G8 a lightweight, especially with five occupants and a trunk full of luggage. However something that the GM engineers did with the suspension allows it to feel as light and nimble as a feather when driving with a heavy right foot, the G8 somehow sheds about 1500 pounds and makes you believe that you are behind the wheel of a sports car.
Why to buy:
A brand new 500 HP V10 powered BMW M5 is rated to go from 0 to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds for $80,000. For half of that you can get a Pontiac G8 GXP that will be nipping on the Bimmer’s heels all day long. With the way that thing look for Pontiac, it is advisable to hurry up and grab one of these why you still can, especially because GM is currently offering a $3,500 rebate.
If you want to be the coolest dad ever or if you are a fan of affordable jaw dropping power then the G8 GXP is what you are looking for, you get Corvette sounds and performance with the functionality of a four door. Even if you just plain enjoy being behind the wheel, the GXP is for you.
Why not to buy:
The only reason not to buy this car is to buy a standard G8 GT or even a V6 for as little as $27,900; you can get the GXP’s 19 inch wheels as an option. Despite this vehicle’s low cost to buy, the real expense will come at the pump; the LS3 is a thirsty motor. After all there is a price to pay in order to have that much power on tap.
We are pretty sure that as soon as the insurance company finds out you just got a 400 HP four door, your rates are going to go up as well. The only other reason not to buy a Pontiac G8 GXP is if you are oblivious to reason and simply want to spend more than you have to just to be seen in a BMW M5.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
Back in 1963 John DeLorean invented the muscle car when he had a group of engineers drop the biggest engine they could into fairly ordinary mid size automobile and upgrade the suspension in order to create the original Pontiac GTO, the original performance bargain. Even though the G8 can be considered to be on the larger side of today’s automakers lineups, the math still makes sense.
If we had an extra $40,000 lying around and a good rate on a gas credit card we would have already haggled with our local Pontiac dealer. The BMW M5 is the car you wish that you could drive the kids to soccer practice in, and the GXP is the car you can afford to.