- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2009

It’s late April as I sit here ready to write about test-driving the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP. I’m letting out a deep breath, just a few days before GM announced Pontiac’s obit.

General Motors is in deep trouble. Teetering on bankruptcy, GM has decided on brand reduction, and Pontaic has taken the first hit. This is sad because I have just driven probably the finest and one of the fastest machines General Motors has ever built for its Pontiac division.

The 2009 GXP is a new high-performance model added to the G8 sedan lineup, joining the G8 and G8 GT. The G8 GXP is super-stuffed and sticks it to the road. If you love driving, you know there’s nothing like driving a great rear-wheel drive sports sedan where everything feels perfectly balanced: It’s just you, the transmission, the steering, the engine, the wheels and the drive.

Basically, the G8 GXP is a track-tuned car designed to tolerate very high speeds, but despite this, the GXP translates well onto the public roadways. Even still, the car does hunger to open up. That’s because the G8 GXP has 402 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.

Powering this four-door sedan is a 16-valve, 6.2-liter V-8 engine mated to a six-speed Tremec manual transmission. The manual is a $695 option, as was the case with my tester. Standard with the V-8 is a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic uniquely robust in engineering design to handle the Pontiac rear-wheel drive sports sedan.

The fuel economy gets chewed up pretty good in this GXP. The EPA ratings are 13 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway.

Not that anyone really needs obscene power on the public roadways, but some will want to know the track facts. Pontiac says the G8 GXP, equipped with a limited slip differential, has a 0-to-60 mph performance of 4.7 seconds and does the quarter-mile in 13 seconds at 104 mph.

Stopping power comes from Brembo brakes with a 14-inch vented front and 13-inch rear disc rotors. The G8 GXP has a four-wheel disc brake program with traction control and ABS.

The G8 GXP tester’s base price was $37,610. The optional manual transmission, a power glass sunroof ($900), gas-guzzler tax ($1,700) and destination charge ($685) brought the as-tested price to $41,590. Many would consider that an extraordinary price point for a Pontiac-branded vehicle. The G8 is uncommonly powerful and designed for the buyer who is looking for American inspiration in a sport-oriented performance RWD sedan.

Unique to the styling of the GXP are the 19-inch polished aluminum wheels shod with summer tires, a front fascia with a lower splitter and special-appearance rear fascia diffuser. On the inside, the GXP logo is embroidered onto the seatbacks, which are two-toned leather upholstery in black and red.

Pontiac’s G8 was just introduced for 2008. The lineup starts with the G8 base model with an entry price of $27,995. It features the 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 256 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. This V-6 is coupled to a five-speed automatic and the EPA is 17/25 mpg.

The G8 GT is offered at $31,360 and equipped with the 6.0-liter V-8 mated to a six-speed automatic as standard (the six manual is optional). The GT will deliver 361 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque and return fuel mileage of 15/24 mpg. The G8 GXP extols the attitude of go-hard fun as the ultimate party boy.

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