Dirty Hot – 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

by Joe LaMuraglia
I drove the Pontiac G8 GT last year and referred to it as a “Tasmanian Devil on Wheels” based on its origin (Australia) and its demeanor (CRAZY fast). I knew at the time that the GT’s position at the top of the G8 food chain would be short-lived as an even more insanely powerful G8 GXP was coming this year. The G8 GT features a 6.0L small-block V-8, producing 361 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque. Its new daddy is the GXP with a 6.2L V-8 rated at more than 400 hp and 0-60 times that make cars twice the price weep. I have been piloting a 2009 G8 GXP for the past few days and am in lust with this dirty-hot car from Pontiac.
“Dirty Hot” is a term my friend Marty and I use for guys that you find attractive but wouldn’t necessarily introduce to your friends and family. You know the type; the tattooed construction guy or the mean looking dock worker at your local big box store. He’s hyper masculine and just a little frightening but you secretly want to know more. Part of you thinks he could be a quality guy but your gut says he is simply too much to handle and finding out may be hazardous to your health.

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

Beauty is…
The 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP certainly looks the part of a dirty-hot poster boy. It is the G8 GT on steroids and does very little to hide it. From the aggressive stance to its unique 19-inch polished aluminum wheels and performance-oriented summer P245/40R19 tires, the GXP screams testosterone. Neither the G8 GT or GXP fall in the gorgeous column but nobody would ever argue that these wheels are less than butch. Think Vin Diesel – he ain’t pretty but you know you want to go for a ride.
They say it is what is on the inside that counts and the G8 GXP maintains the goodness of the G8 and improves on its lesser qualities. Gone are the useless gauges at the top of the dash and added are satellite radio, aux input jack, bluetooth connectivity and GM’s OnStar turn-by-turn directions. Many of my colleagues bemoan the lack of a full-screen navigation system in the G8 line up but the integration of the OnStar turn-by-turn is excellent and if you really need a map, I say go buy a Garmin. The GXP also maintains the excellent sport steering wheel, incredibly comfortable and supportive sport seating and in my opinion, a beautifully functional dashboard layout.

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

Running Scared
There are many cars that look the part but fail to deliver when you stomp the pedal. They are akin to Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) sounding like Carson Kressley. The Pontiac G8 GXP is more like Colt model Bo Dixon with a voice like James Earl Jones – this baby is NOT messing around. Once I became accustomed to the raw power available, I did an acceleration test onto the Saw Mill Parkway and was able to chirp ther tires in first, second AND third gears. Hot DAMN!
The GXP that I had was equipped with the optional 6-speed manual transmission. It is a $695 option that I’d highly recommend if you are a control freak like me. I commented on my Twitter account that “a car this big, with a manual transmission and over 400 horsepower shouldn’t be this easy to drive.” The more time I spent with the G8 GXP the more amazed I became at how civilized it could be cruising down the road and yet be a complete animal when prodded.
Surprisingly Sophisticated and Roomy
Part of the appeal of this beast is that there are few compromises. Most sports cars are coupes and have limited seating for anyone more than a front seat passenger. The G8 GXP is actually incredibly roomy. The driver’s seat adjusts to the point where my 5’10” self couldn’t reach the pedals and the rear seats are akin to a limousine. My 6’3″ brother and my 6’5″ friend found the driver’s seat and rear seat more than comfortable. Oddly enough, the front passenger seat doesn’t track back as far as the driver’s so my aging brother couldn’t stretch his aching legs out. The more youthful friend, used to cramped quarters is most cars, was content with the room afforded in the passenger perch.
The true comfort test came when I had to take my 81-year old mother from Newark airport to CT. I thought she might find the G8 GXP too rough but my worries were unfounded. The GXP’s ride is incredibly comfortable and controlled. Where some sport sedans will stiffen springs in attempt to separate your kidneys from your body, the G8 GXP’s suspension tuning is a perfect blend of taut control and comfort. Mama LaMa even commented on how well it handled after I had to make an “emergency maneuver” and weave in and out of traffic while accelerating on the Jersey Turnpike. Her comment after we hit triple digits exiting into the rest area; “this must have 8 cylinders”. Gotta love Mom.
Cheap Date
The ultimate compliment for a vehicle is when people that come in contact with it begin to dream of owning it. Soon after my friend Matt and his boyfriend Eric and I spent a afternoon cruising around in the G8 GXP I received an email from him with “his” G8 spec’d out on Pontiac.com. I have to admit, I did the same. At as “as tested” $41,590 with the options being the manual transmission, a $900 sunroof and a $1,700(!) gas guzzler tax, the G8 GXP is the epitome of “bang for your buck”. Knowing that you can close to the same performance in the G8 GT in a similarly-equipped G8 GT for under $33K is the new definition of “DIRTY HOT”!

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