Pontiac will get pep with sport sedan
January 12, 2007
BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC
Pontiac will add a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan to its lineup as soon as the end of this year or in early 2008, General Motors Corp. sources confirmed Thursday. GM will probably officially announce the car at the Chicago auto show in February.
The news was reported this week in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, which quoted GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.
The person did not want to be named, because Lutz was not yet authorized to announce the decision.
The car, to be called the G8, will be based on the Holden Commodore VE SS, which went on sale in Australia last August. It will eventually replace the Pontiac Grand Prix.
The top Commodore model features a 362-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 engine and a choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmission. The five-passenger sedan is about 5 inches shorter than a Pontiac Grand Prix.
The powerful model should help bolster Pontiac'* standing as GM'* performance brand.
Pontiac expects to sell 25,000 to 30,000 G8s annually, a person close to the program said. The car will initially be imported from Australia and share its sheet metal with the Commodore VE, although the grille and bumpers "will be unmistakably Pontiac," the person said.
Production of a second-generation model with unique Pontiac styling should begin at GM'* plant in Oshawa, Ontario, in 2009.
The G8 comes from the same global Zeta development program as the Chevrolet Camaro sports coupe and convertible, which Oshawa will begin building in late 2008 or early 2009.
The program was developed in Australia, GM'* center of expertise for affordable rear-wheel-drive cars. It is also expected to produce the Chevrolet Caprice large rear-wheel-sedan and one or more models for Buick.