Tasmanian Devil on Wheels – Life with a Pontiac G8 GT

by Joe LaMuraglia

2008 Pontiac G8

I spent a week with the latest sports-sedan from Pontiac – the 2008 G8 GT. To see our initial review of the Pontiac G8, click HERE. Before all you geography nerds get your panties in a bind, I know that the Pontiac G8 is built in Adelaide, South Australia, not in Tasmania. But if you had to come up with pithy titles to grab people’s attention, you’d know that there is something called “creative license”.

2008 Pontiac G8

There is more than geographic relevance to the title of this article. The G8 and the cartoon character named the Tasmanian Devil not only share a birth country but it turns out they have some distinct personality traits in common as well. For example:

  • Warner Brother’s character has the face only a mother could love but on some level, you want to hug him.
  • The Pontiac G8 is far from gorgeous on the outside but it is attractive and athletic enough to get your attention, especially in the CFM-Red* that we drove.
  • WB’s “Taz” is calm at rest but turns into a hot tranny mess when upset; reeking havoc and destruction wherever he travels.
  • The Pontiac G8 GT is perfectly composed running errands or cruising on the highway but when you stomp on the gas you awake the beast. The 6.0L small-block V-8, producing 361 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque comes to life and rockets you to wherever your wheels are pointed. If you really want to tap into its devilish nature, turn the traction control off and channel Taz himself as the G8 GT will smoke out and make a scene prior to catapulting you down the road.

Are you getting the analogy? It isn’t exactly fair to the G8, specifically from an aesthetic point of view, but it is the best way to describe the beautiful insanity of this car. On one hand it is a large, solid, roomy four-door sedan that happily performs its daily duties of carpooling, shopping and commuting. On the other, it is like that crazy cartoon beast from Australia that will kick some serious bum and take no prisoners.

2008 Pontiac G8

I’ve had the pleasure of spending over a week in the aforementioned CFM-Red* G8 GT and I am still trying to figure out how the Aussies built a better American sedan than anyone on our home turf. The vehicle I’ve been piloting around Nashville will hit 0-to-60 in a claimed 5.3 seconds. After nailing the throttle just about every time I drive it, I have no reason to doubt it. You can feel the engine twist on its brackets and pour forth pure power. There have been more than a few embarrassed stoplight challengers driving the best from Germany.
There are a lot of really fast cars on the market and sub six-second 0-60 times are becoming commonplace for performance vehicles. What makes the my G8 GT’s performance interesting is that it has a sticker price under $32K! The only option it is missing is the sunroof and adding that brings the grand total to $32,745 before destination. There is very little on the market today that can deliver that performance for the price AND seat up to 5 people.
You are probably thinking that with such a massive engine, the fuel economy is atrocious. Surprisingly it isn’t. The base car with the V6 is rated at 17/25 city/hwy and the beastly GT is rated at 15/24 city/hwy. Not hybrid numbers for sure but rather respectable for a car that puts such a huge smile on your face. Considering that its key competitors, Nissan Maxima and Dodge Charger SRT-8 get similar mileage but have a higher cost of entry, the G8 GT starts making sense.

2008 Pontiac G8

Not all is perfect with the G8 though. There has been much criticism from my fellow journalists about the interior of the G8. Their complaints range from the lack of a power seat back adjustment to what they perceive to be a less-than-perfect center console. My perception, somewhat clouded by years in product planning at an OEM, is that there is no perfect car. In addition, when you bring a vehicle in from a foreign subsidiary the home market gets precedence when it comes to features and design. In my opinion, the interior of the G8 GT is good, not class-leading but definitely above average.
With that said, I do wish that satellite radio was available and while GM’s Turn-by-turn directions from OnStar is an excellent feature, some will miss the availability of a screen-based navigation. Then there is the issue of the two digital gauges at the top of the center instrument panel. The shine brightly and make sure you are aware of the battery voltage and oil pressure. Important things to the enthusiast but to the average American driver, they will be distracting. Put the radio station information in that space and let the “check engine light” handle the rest.
Visibility in the car is good fore and aft but the side-view mirrors are a little on the small side. A backup camera would be a nice option as well. The only other complaint from my camp is that the exhaust note could use a bit more testosterone.
I’ll give a final report on highway manners after my trip from Nashville to Atlanta this coming Sunday. Until then, enjoy the photos below.
Sunday, June 15, 2008 – I just drove the G8 the 3.5 hours from Nashville to Atlanta and I can report an average of 23 MPG for the highway portion of the trip. The G8 is very much at home on the open road and it is easy to forget the massive engine under the hood – that is until you decide to pass and it all comes back in a glorious sensory experience. My average speed was 78 so I imagine achieving the stated 24 MPG is simply a matter of a lower velocity.
If you are in the market for a 5-passenger American performance sedan that happens to be from Australia, head on down to your local Pontiac dealer. After all, who doesn’t like an Aussie accent?
– POWER and more POWER
– Solid chassis
– Roomy interior with kudos going to rear seat room
– Great Stereo
– Did I mention POWER?
– Sporty yet compliant ride. Road trip car for sure.
– Great value – Starts at $27,595 for V6 maxes out at $32,745 for G8 GT
– No satellite radio available for the the first year
– Exhaust note could be more butch
– Side view mirrors aren’t big enough
– Styling is a bit “boy racer” for my taste. May look better in darker colors.
– Radio reception is sub-par
Photos care of Adam Barrera and Pontiac

*Come F**K Me Red

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