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In my first post about a recent Pontiac-sponsored trip to the Bondurant Racing School I didn’t get to tell you about my stylish new Piloti racing shoes. You didn’t know there is such a thing as racing shoes, and neither did I. The rounded heel and thinner sole really do make longer driving hauls move comfortable. Pontiac picked up the tab, and I am thankful for my favorite new footwear.
I tested three version of the Pontiac G6 on the same autocross track on which I had earlier tried out the G5: the sedan, the coupe, and the convertible. The G6 sedan interior seemed to be the same as the G5. A very roomy back seat, conservative styling with out being stuffy. Some numbers: G6′s start with a 4-cylinder 156 HP engine in the base model, which gets 30/22 MPH. Only the sedan has this V4. The next two sedan trims are the GT and the GXP, names shared with the two trims available in the coupe and convertible. A powertrain with a 214 HP V6, netting 26/17 MPH, is the centerpiece of the GT trim. The very sporty GXPs is built around a better tuned 252 HP V6 which also gets 26/17 MPH.
The basic G6 sedans is that it feel like an incremental step up from the G5 — read the G5 story for more. The GT and the GXP trims own all the G6 excitement. I folded the convertible’s hard-top down before I even started the engine in. I loved slalom-ing through the autocross cones under full steam. The same Stabilitrak system I described in the G5 review performed even better with the coupe’s and convertible’s front-wheel drive and racing suspension. Topping out around $30K (unmodified), the non-sedan G6′s are in the affordable "dad’s fun car" category.
Pontiac recently treated me and a few other writers to test five of their current models at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix, AZ. I learned today’s Pontiac brand is both performance-driven, and rather practical. Over the next few days I will be sharing my experiences as a work-a-day father of four pushing Pontiac’s G5, G6, Vibe, Solstice and G8 models on the racetrack and in high-intensity safety drills.
Pontiac/GM paid for my 2-day excursion – and a very nice dinner to boot!
In nostaligic memory of my very first car, there is a ’64 Pontiac Catalina-shaped soft spot on my heart – it wasn’t hard to get me excited seeing what the modern Pontiac has to offer.
I’ll tell you about the Pontiac G5 first. This is Pontiac’s entry-level model, in a class with the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Scion tC. Pontiac states the standard 148 hp engine achieves 35 MPH (highway), while the G5 GT has 171 hp and gets about 32 MPH. I would call the dash and interior trim design “stylish” and “conservative” – nothing jarring, everything in the expected place, consistent and re-assuring. It had an unexpectedly roomy back seat, with plenty space in the rear bench for this leggy 6 footer. It probably could seat 3 adults across without awkward elbow-tucking or thigh rubbing.
I took the G5 and the G5 GT on a short autocross track set up for us. Autocross is a short, flat course with tight twists and turns marked by cones, keeping the whole thing inside a small parking lot-sized plot. Most impressive in the G5 was experiencing GM’s StabiliTrak in action – I never once felt even slightly out of control despite auto-racing-newbie choppy turns effected while my foot flew between full-tilt gas and brake. Before coming to the event I had joked with the wife about how sorry Pontiac would be when I rolled one of their cars, but after a lot of hard driving I never so much as fishtailed.
With the large back bench, great gas mileage, responsive and powerful engine, I can imagine a family’s G5 the the role of a dad’s commuter car. Zippy in traffic, only sipping gas on the home/office route, and Dad would know the kids are safe and comfortable in the roomy back seat when he’s got them.