- Ultra-sleek and futuristic styling.
- Fair amount of equipment offered.
- Reliable and torquey V6 engine.
- Generous interior room.
- Solid new chassis and structure.
- Styling too exciting for most folks.
- Very heavy for a midsize sports sedan.
- Low on power in an age of 240 hp family cars.
- No manual transmission offered in GT trim.
- Rearward visibility is a problem.
Press Coverage :
The Pontiac G6 is the all-new replacement for the unloved Grand Am. The G6 sedan was introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Additional models, including a 2+2 sports coupe and a convertible, follow the sedan’s rollout. When it came to developing the 2005 G6, Pontiac set out to challenge the look and feel of sporty midsize cars - and, according to Pontiac, “compromise” wasn’t in the lexicon of change. Highlights include a torquey 200-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, electronically controlled four-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift mode, class-leading 112.3-inches of wheelbase, four-wheel handling-biased independent suspension and large rims with performance tires.
Built on GM’s rigid, European-designed Epsilon architecture already on duty in Opel's Vectra and Chevrolet's Malibu, the 2005 Pontiac G6 delivers responsive ride and handling qualities thanks to its solid structure and partly due to its long 112.3-inch wheelbase. Stretching more than five inches longer than the usual midsize competitors, the G6’s wheelbase pushes the wheels to the four corners of the body, enabling relatively razor-sharp handling with minimal body roll for a mid-size sedan. The G6’s long wheelbase platform is actually shared with the Malibu Maxx, and is comparable to full-size sedans, giving rear-seat passengers class-leading legroom. On the outside, the aggressive proportions culminate in a taut and unique design. The G6’s proportions allow many unexpected details usually not found in sedans nowadays, including rear passenger door windows that rolls down all the way and the optional Panoramic sliding roof, which is a four-panel, electronically operated glass roof. Three of the four panels slide rearward, creating a sunroof large enough for even the rear-seat passengers to enjoy an open-air, almost convertible-like experience. The front panel tilts up as an air deflector. The G6 sedan currently is the only production vehicle in North America to offer this sliding roof design on a production.
With its long wheelbase and short overhangs, the Pontiac G6 has a dramatic profile. Designers pulled the A-pillars forward, raking the windshield and sharpening the vehicle’s aggressive good looks with a wedge-shaped profile that is supposed to look fast even when the car is stationary – it’s a bold, yet clean look that characterizes Pontiac’s new design philosophy. The G6’s lithe good looks are reinforced with numerous refinements, including prominent, projector-beam headlamps and fog lamps with crystal-clear lenses and jewel-like lighting elements. The Pontiac signature twin-port grille features chrome accents and mesh center sections made from galvanized steel. At the rear of the vehicle, large, bright tail lamps flank a prominent trunk that is designed for easy loading. And though many competitors in the midsize segment have gooseneck-style trunk hinges that can impede storage space, the G6 features gas-charged struts that do not interfere with cargo when the trunk is closed. It’s a feature typically found on more expensive cars.
Complementing the Pontiac G6’s bold exterior is a driver-focused, sports car cockpit with intuitively placed controls. Refinement and attention to detail are immediately apparent, from the brushed metal accents and chrome trim, to the precise, crisp true-red LED backlighting on the instrument panel. The seats were designed to support the G6’s sporting nature. The front seats, with their firm yet compliant feel and high-bolstered sides, are comfortable and hold the driver and passengers confidently in place as the road begins to twist. Settling into the right driving position for those twisting roads is made easier with tilt and telescoping steering column and available adjustable pedals. Driving confidence also is enhanced with the thick, leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel, which works harmoniously with the variable-assist electric power steering to react immediately to driver input.
Other interior features include: available remote start; automatic climate control that maintains constant programmed cabin temperatures by automatically switching heating and air conditioning modes; premium Monsoon sound system with in-dash 6-CD changer, sub-woofer and available steering wheel controls; personalized driver information center; 100/60/40 rear-seat folding combinations; and available XM Satellite Radio.
The Pontiac G6 is offered with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 220 lb.-ft. of torque – more standard power and torque than the base Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, but less than the V6 equivalents of its Japanese midsize competitors. The engine has broad power bands that produce stirring performance for low-rpm acceleration and high-rpm responsiveness. Technical innovations, including electronic throttle control, enhance the connection between driver and car. The 3.5 V-6 is backed by the Hydra-Matic 4T45-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. For drivers who enjoy more control of the engine’s power bands, the G6’s automatic transmission also is equipped with a manual shift mode. The feature allows the driver to manually select the gears without the need for a clutch or just leave it in the fully automatic mode. With the manual-shift mode, sophisticated programming allows much more driver control than other manual-control automatics. Gear changes are quick and crisp; and although the system’s programming won’t allow the engine to rev into a damaging rpm zone, it will not shift for the driver when in manual mode.
With its wheels at the corners and long wheelbase, the G6 significantly raises the bar for responsive handling in the midsize segment. The 112.3-inch wheelbase provides a smooth ride and enables more aggressive and responsive suspension tuning. The front suspension consists of a MacPherson strut design with aluminum control arms and a direct acting stabilizer bar. The suspension is mounted to a U-shaped hydroformed chassis cradle that is isolated from the chassis with four specially tuned rubber mounts. The mounts reduce noise, vibration and harshness felt in the vehicle for a smoother, quieter ride. In the rear, a four-link independent suspension design uses twin-tube shocks and, like the front suspension, a direct acting stabilizer bar. Attached to the shocks, in addition to the chassis, direct acting stabilizer bars respond more quickly to suspension loads and driver input, as well as reduce body roll.
Sixteen-inch wheels are standard on the G6, with 17-inch wheels standard on GT.
Anti-lock brakes are standard on G6 GT models. Enhanced Traction System full-function traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control System, which uses a yaw sensor and other features to keep the vehicle under control in the most challenging driving conditions, also are available.
The G6 comes standard with dual-stage front air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and an energy absorbing steering column. Head curtain “roof rail” side air bags, which help protect the outboard front and rear passengers’ head and upper torso during a side-impact collision, are available. Seat-mounted side air bags, which help protect the thorax in side collisions, also are available. Remote keyless entry and a content theft alarm are standard on V-6 models.
On the road, the G6 handles itself admirably. The steering is quite responsive, and the handling is quick. However, in all of the models we drove, the brakes seemed a little slow to respond to touch. It seems like you really have to lay on them to get the car to come to a complete stop. Others who tested the car that day seemed to have a more favorable impression, though, being able to quickly bring the car to a halt from speeds of up to 90 mph.
The car lives up to their vision, as it holds an edge in handling over many of its cohorts. The G6's 112.3-inch wheelbase, which is 5 inches longer than the Grand Am it replaces, goes a long way to enhance the driving quality. Not even the G6's inspiration, the Volkswagen Passat, which features a 106.4-inch wheelbase, can compete in this category. Among midsize sedans in this price range, only the Nissan Altima comes close to the Pontiac's measurement with its 110.2-inch wheelbase. You can really feel this advantage at work on the road, as the G6 handles tight turns well, giving the driver the impression of considerable control. The only problem we noticed with the handling had to do with the steering wheel itself, which seemed way too large for such an elegant car. The life preserver-sized unit seemed like it would have been more appropriate on an 18-wheeler.
The designers of the G6 insist that the car is aimed at buyers who like performance, as well as design and comfort. However, it could certainly be argued that the interior of the Honda Accord is more comfortable than that of the G6. Pontiac's latest yielded a pleasant ride, with comfortable seating in the front and adequate headroom throughout. The interior materials, while partially composed of leather, looked and felt a bit cheap, though. The designers of both the Accord and Altima seem to have made a lot more out of similar means.
In terms of acceleration, nearly every competitor in this price range offers a V6 engine with more horsepower than this Pontiac's standard 3.5-liter V6. Output measures 200 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque — such figures would have been commendable five years ago but these days they put the G6 on the lower end of the horsepower spectrum. Still, the G6 is one of the few cars on the affordable side of the midsize sedan segment that offers standard V6 power.
The G6 also gets better gas mileage than V6 versions of both the Mazda 6 and the Nissan Altima, with ratings of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. A car with good gas mileage certainly cannot be underestimated in this day and age. However, if Pontiac were to replace the standard four-speed automatic transmission with a five-speed automatic like some of its competitors, both its fuel economy and performance would improve even more.
If you live for engine revs and the joy they bring, pushrod designs disappoint because they run out of breath before they take yours away. The Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima, the two rivals with personalities similar to the Pontiac's, would suit the driving enthusiast better.
The interior showcases the ups and downs.
On the good side, the leather seats in the G6 GT are remarkably comfortable. The generous legroom in back makes that a really useful seat. The tidy gauges and controls, illuminated by Audi-style (and Pontiac-signature) red lighting, are a titillation. The optional panoramic sunroof opens in sections that stack to form what looks like a roof spoiler — or the bunched cloth that once identified the silhouette of a U.S.-market Renault with a fabric sunroof. It's kind of amusing, if not exactly worth its $1,500 price.
But the feel inside is subpar. Maybe it's the jarring sound of the doors when they slam closed. Maybe it's the wiggly feel and clacky sound of the shift lever. Possibly, it's the way road sounds become thunks and clunks instead of minor aural and physical disturbances.
1999-2004 Pontiac Grand Am GT
3,400 cc / 175 hp / 205 lb-ft / 3099-3118 lbs / 0-60 mph 9.0 sec.