Test Drive: Pontiac G8 GXP 6-Speed! - PlanetLSX
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Test Drive: Pontiac G8 GXP 6-Speed!

Writer: Tony Whatley, Photographer: Author

Posted at 9:22 PM / March 23, 2009

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We get our hands on one of the first 6-speed manual GXP G8 sedans!
We get our hands on one of the first 6-speed manual GXP G8 sedans!

Our friends at Gay Pontiac (Dickinson, TX) informed us that they had a new 2009 G8 GXP arrive, and asked if we were interested in driving it. The new owner kindly handed over the keys and we went for a cruise. Thanks to Nino in sales for coordinating this test drive.

Gear-bangers rejoice! Our test GXP was relatively special, as it was the first local one that had arrived with a 6-speed manual transmission. GM passed on putting the manual in the 361hp G8 GT, but the 415 hp and 415 ft-lbs Corvette derived 6.2L LS3 equipped version got the green light for the gear rowers. As expected, the TR6060 transmission felt very precise, with accurate throws in between the gears. Seating position relative to the shifter was comfortable, very similar to driving a manual 04-06 GTO. The red rings around the sporty gauges and a tach that shows 8-thousand rpm adds to the sporty feel of the car. The GXP also uses a slightly different steering wheel from the GT, with more curves and lines molded into the shape. The car felt very quick, easily meeting the claims by GM of bottom-13 second quarter mile times and 109 mph trap speeds.

At cruising speed, the exhaust was somewhat tame and mellow, perfect for maintaining an in-car conversation or phone call through the On-Star system. Step on that throttle and the LS3 roars to life, with a very aggressive growl coming from the exhaust. Music to our ears. We've never felt so naughty about trying to look all grown-up in a big four-door sedan. This GXP is all business on the outside, but all fun on the inside. It gets a few subtle exterior enhancements over the GT, such as a slightly restyled front and rear bumper, and multi-spoke 19 inch wheels. Most of the other commuters in their boring cars will never know why you are smiling while driving a family hauler.

Handling and steering felt excellent, it is obvious GM did their homework on the road courses such as Nürburgring in Germany. The G8 GXP remains somewhat flat and predictable in long sweeping corners, with minimal body-roll. Steering is tight, with zero road bump-steer transmitted to the driver. Brakes worked very well, due to the 4-piston Brembo front calipers and large 14 inch rotors that come standard with the GXP.

Could GM have built the perfect performance sedan? With a starting price to be had under the $40K range, the level of sophistication, comfort, and performance is unrivaled. Who says you have to buy a European sedan to get everything you want? We only hope GM continues to stick around and build fantastic cars such as the G8 GXP.

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