2009 Pontiac G8 Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Auto writers find that both the G8 Sedan and GT trims provide powerful, thrilling performance.
- "The base G8 is a fun-to-drive mid-size V-6 sedan, certainly the exception to a boring rule. Its rear-wheel-drive layout keeps things interesting. None of the front-wheel-drive four-doors in its class offers the same level of driving enjoyment." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The G8's mechanical merits are impressive, from its range of energetic engines to its impressive combination of sharp handling and supple composure over broken pavement." -- Edmunds
- "The G8 is similar to a great stereo system in that it's defined at low volume levels, yet able to be cranked up without distortion. No matter the speed, the steering returns the same measured response as the throttle pedal, as the braking system, as the body motions." -- New York Times
- "What a rear-drive sedan should be: sharp steering, flat handling, excellent brakes, good visibility. A winner." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
Test drivers are pleased with the G8's strong engine and smooth transmission options. The G8 Sedan features a 3.6-liter V6 engine that generates 256-horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 248 pound-feet of torque at 2,100 rpm. However, the more powerful GT comes equipped with a 6.0-liter V8 engine that produces 355-horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. While the base Sedan comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission, the GT features a six-speed automatic. Both transmissions feature a manual mode.
According to the EPA, the base G8 nets a city/highway fuel economy of 17/25 mpg, while the GT is rated at 15/24 mpg.
- "The only transmission offered with the V-6 is a five-speed automatic that offers a shift-it-yourself function as well as a Sport mode and blips the throttle on downshifts. When Sport is engaged, the gearbox isn't shy about holding a gear for a tick or two, but conversely will grab the highest gear once your right foot has settled down to improve fuel economy." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The base car's V6 offers enough power for nearly any situation. The GT's V8 is notably more powerful at all times. ... With either engine, the transmissions are responsive and smooth shifting. Both transmissions include a sport mode and a manual-shift mode." -- Consumer Guide
- "Mainly, though, the base model exists to remind you that for an extra $3,365 you could have had the GT. It offers two extra cylinders and 105 more horses, plus another gear in the transmission, larger disc brakes and a six-CD changer with MP3 playback. To opt for the V-6 and not the V-8 is to squander a basic American freedom -- to buy the biggest, most powerful car available. And even if supersizing seems like a liberty the nation can no longer afford, in this instance logic sides with extravagance. The V-8's cylinder-deactivation system pulls the GT's economy rating up to 15 miles a gallon in town and 24 on the highway, almost on par with 17/25 for the base car." -- New York Times
- "Through the use of GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM) -- aka cylinder deactivation -- the powerful V-8 engine and automatic transmission garner respectable EPA figures of 15 mpg city/24 highway, not far off the 256-bhp, V-6-equipped G8's 17/25 rating. Additionally, this system functions seamlessly; we never could tell when it was in V-4 mode." -- Road and Track
Handling and Braking
Reviewers, on balance, report that the rear-wheel drive G8 handles well. And while the GT offers a sportier ride than the base trim, most critics agree that they're both thrilling to drive.
- "We're happy to report that along with the GT's good looks, the base G8 also shares its big brother's well-balanced chassis. The V-6 car is at once at home on back roads and comfortable on long highway jaunts. We did experience some stiffness and float at times, but overall the suspension offers a respectable balance of comfort and sport for everyday driving. The well-weighted steering offers decent on-center feel and the car turns in predictably. Stability control is standard and can be turned down, but never fully off, making tail-out shenanigans difficult but not impossible." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Base and GT models have a firm, well-controlled ride. Test drives demonstrated good bump absorption and no harshness. ... Despite GT's added weight, its handling is little different than that of the base model. Brakes offer fine stopping control with excellent pedal modulation." -- Consumer Guide
- "Those who buy a V8-powered G8 because they want a four-door modern-day muscle car will not be disappointed. If you turn off traction control, the GT or GXP will lay thick stripes of rubber in your favorite parking lot until the cows come home -- or until you run out of tires." -- Edmunds
- "Like a BMW or Mercedes, the Pontiac is a heavy machine that feels stout and energetic rather than cumbersome. This is due primarily to its 50-50 front-rear weight distribution and its stiff structure, which frees up the chassis to absorb bumps rather than to mitigate body flex." -- New York Times
- "While the [G8 GT's] suspension eats up the relatively light loading on city streets and freeway onramps, harder loading gives all four corners compliance indigestion. The slalom and skidpad numbers are respectable at 64.3 mph and 0.85g, but they are not as good as we expected. Plus, we had to work the car pretty hard in these exercises to achieve these numbers." -- Road and Track
- "The G8's variable-ratio power steering feels positive and linear, and its anti-lock disc brakes slow it with confidence - particularly the larger units used on the GT. Toss in near-ideal weight distribution, driver-selectable stability and traction controls and multi-mode automatic transmissions, and either of these Pontiac sedans has the tools to deliver performance that will impress even the most demanding enthusiast." -- Kelley Blue Book