Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: Pontiac Grand Am
is something you cannot avoid. Not even a car maker as big as General
In the past, GM used to sell completely different cars in the USA and
Time has changed. Its home market is being eaten up by Japanese and
cars, forcing it to give considerable incentives or simply cut price.
such intensified competition, cost reduction became the No. 1 job.
this led to the cooperation between its European and American arms in
form of platform sharing. For the first time in many years, Chevrolet
Pontiac have cars derived from European-engineered platforms. And not
one but two platforms. GM called them Delta and Epsilon. Both were
by Opel in Germany. The Delta is a small car platform and out of our
What we are talking now is Epsilon, the one that gave birth to Opel
and Signum, Saab 9-3, Chevrolet Malibu and Maxx as well as Pontiac G6.
2 years from now the list will also include Saturn Aura.
replaces the outgoing
Grand Am. With 4 million copies sold in the last 20 years, Grand Am was
the best selling model in the Pontiac division. But it was a bad car
whose success was primarily based on low price and fleet sales. Over
years, Grand Am was only remembered for being forgettable. That's why
GM product director Bob Lutz (that lovely old man!) decided to revive
division with a new car, he dumped the name Grand Am without the
hesitation. But why he chose the name G6 is unsure. Yes, the fastest
of G6 has a Gearbox with 6 speeds, but the relationship with the name
just as thin as that. What I am sure is that G6 sounds pretty cool.
Even cooler is
design. It is the first "Lutz's car" for GM - not designed by the old
of course, but was conceived by him from the beginning, designed and
under his guidance. The G6 is a 4-door sedan but it looks more like a
thanks to a cab-forward design, steeply raked windscreen and rear
Its lines are sleek and simple. Surfaces are clean and tidy. That's a
departure from the boy-racer-like, plastic-cladding-everywhere style of
previous Pontiacs. It is a refreshing sight from the mainstream Camry
cabin may not be as stylish as the exterior, but quality is OK while
is competitive. You can see the G6 as a stretched Opel Vectra. Its
wheelbase is the longest possible of the Epsilon platform. That's also
152mm longer than Chevrolet Malibu. However, it is no wider than its
That means while rear legroom is generous, 3 people sitting at the back
may not be as comfortable as Camry and Accord.
chassis is immensely strong. To compensate with the wheelbase stretch,
Pontiac added a magnesium cross beam behind the dashboard. On the road,
the G6 feels rock solid and refined. Its strut and multi-link
are tuned softer than its European cousins to deliver better ride that
GM believes American ask for. The electric power steering is also
setting is also what magazines criticized most - they found the car
too much, the ride is somewhat floaty, the power steering overboosted
lacks feel. Admittedly, Vectra was never renowned for driving
but it shouldn't be so bad. Part of the reason could be the heavyweight
iron-block V6 the G6 uses. The Detroit iron made the car nose-heavy
deteriorated its dynamic balance. Another reason could lie on the way
tested and tuned its car. As I always say, chassis tuning is equally
as chassis design. Given a solid basis you still need to work hard to
the best out of it. Perhaps this is what Pontiac still lack of.
we say the European-based chassis is disappointing, then the homegrown
3.5-litre push-rod V6 engine must be every bit predictable - you know
is unrefined and reluctant compare with rival's multi-valve V6s,
you have already read from Chevrolet Malibu which shares the same
In the heavier Pontiac G6, the combination of 200hp / 220 lbft and a
automatic is even more struggling. The result is a sluggish performance.
Later on, a
of the V6 will be added to the range. The additional capacity, variable
valve timing (unusual for push-rod engines) and variable intake
will lift its output to 240 horsepower and 245 lbft. But why not simply
give us the much better 24-valve V6 that Cadillac is using today? isn't
it more suitable to the sporting character of Pontiac?
for G6 is perhaps the smallest one - the 170hp 2.4-litre Ecotec 16V.
all-alloy engine should improve handling a bit and its top-end
could be better than the old V6. Remember, it was engineered by Lotus.
Moreover, before Pontiac has found out the right chassis tuning, less
is likely to cause less embarrassment.
G6 is a vast improvement over Grand Am, it still falls behind the
Japanese sedans for refinement and driving pleasure. If this is really
the first "Lutz's car", then I must admit I am disappointed.
above report was last updated on 19 Jan
2005. All Rights Reserved.
G6 Coupe GTP
Honda Accord coupe or Toyota Camry Solara, Pontiac G6 Coupe is a
comfort-biased coupe. In other words, it is a G6 sedan with coupe's
clothes. Don't fooled by its attractive fastback, this car runs the
same very long wheelbase as its sedan sister. Inside, it offers the
rear passengers plenty of legroom, if not headroom.
Handling and ride remains
uninspiring. Owing to a 62:38 weight distribution (blame to that
front-wheel-drive and iron-block V6), soft suspensions and
high-profile 225/50 tires, the coupe understeers heavily.
The top GTP model employs GM's LZ9 3.9-litre V6. It is the first ever
push-rod engine employing variable valve timing technology. A hydraulic
cam phaser retards the camshaft timing by up to 25 degrees at low rev
to improve torque and emission, or advance the timing by up to
15 degrees at higher rev to quicken breathing. VVT also allows the
engine to use higher valve lift to enhance top end power without
sacrificing idle quality. As a result,
the 3.9 engine produces 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 241 lbft of
torque at 2800 rpm. A 2-stage variable intake manifold also helps
broadening the torque curve.
For smoothness and willingness, the push-rod V6 is incomparable to
modern multi-valve V6s, but when mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox it
takes just 6.5 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. Unfortunately, the
manual gearshift is very stiff. In fact, we cannot find any single area
really impressive. The G6, coupe or sedan, is not a car you will get
above report was last updated on 14 Feb
2006. All Rights Reserved.
retractable roof have been very popular in Europe in recent years, but
so far American car makers have yet to follow suit. This may be because they lack
vision or expertise in this technology. Anyway, Karmann, the German
convertible expert which produced the retractable roof for Renault
Megane CC and Nissan Micra C+C, has an office in the United States, and
it helped GM to develop a similar retractable roof mechanism for
Pontiac G6 Convertible.
The car is based on G6 Coupe
and shares its handsome design. To keep price below US$30,000, it
employs a simple 2-piece metal roof. Unfortunately, this mean the roof
panels are large thus eat a lot of boot space. When the roof is down,
luggage volume reduces from 355 liters to a laughable 62 liters,
effectively eliminating the boot. In other words, you can either carry
luggage or enjoy
sunshine, mutually exclusive. The cabin is quite roomy. Thanks to the
same very long wheelbase as the sedan and coupe, there is adequate
legroom for adults at the back, though when the roof is closed rear
headroom becomes limited.
Scuttle shake is inevitable for
the long wheelbase chassis. On rough pavement, vibration is visible at
the windscreen header as well as steering wheel, and detectable through
the seats. It's not as bad as older American convertibles, but
apparently its chassis rigidity is not up to the level of Volvo C70.
Furthermore, the roof conversion added some 160 kilos to the already
hefty GTP Coupe, dampening the performance offered by the 3.9-litre ohv
V6. The push-rod engine used to be modest, now its output is even
reduced from 240hp to 227hp in the Convertible without giving any
reasons. Besides, GM thought convertible drivers don't prefer to shift
gears by themselves, so it offers only a 4-speed automatic. Both the
motor and transmission feel outdated.
suspension of G6 Convertible is set softer than the coupe, so there is
a lot of understeer and roll. In addition to the increased weight and
loss of chassis stiffness, handling is hardly sporty, driving fun is
limited. Its priority is put on ride comfort and predictable driving
Next year, Pontiac will offer it the Holden-developed 3.6-liter DOHC
VVT V6 engine (252hp) and a new 6-speed automatic gearbox. This could
improve the car markedly, but even then it will be difficult to compare
with European offerings. However, if you want a coupe-cabriolet with
real 4-passenger accommodation and costing below US$30,000, there is no
above report was last updated on 8 Aug 2006. All