After driving a G6 GT sedan, a GT Convertible, and a GTP coupe, we have found the G6 models have good road manners even when driven hard, benefits of the long wheelbase and European-designed architecture.
The G6 sedan is roomy and plush with excellent overall function and its price point has made it a popular choice as a mid-size sedan. The coupe is comfortable and sporty. For a real open-top experience, the convertible features one of the longest retractable hardtop roofs in production.
The G6 offers some interesting features. It can be started remotely from the comfort of your home by pressing a button on the key fob, a luxury on bitter cold winter mornings or sweltering summer afternoons. A Panoramic roof is available on sedans, with panels that slide rearward creating a sunroof large enough for the back seat riders to enjoy an open-air experience.
New for 2007, the GTP sedan features a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a six-speed automatic transmission. Hydraulic power steering is standard on all GT models, and head curtain side-impact airbags are standard on G6 sedan and coupe. G6 also gets 17-inch five-spoke, high-vent wheels for 2007, and a standard interior rearview electrochromic mirror with compass display. New exterior color options for 2007 include Blue-Gold Crystal Metallic and Dark Gray Steel Metallic.
The mission of the Pontiac G6 is to beat the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Mazda6 on value, a proposition bolstered by lower prices. While the G6 doesn't offer the refinement or attention to detail of its Japanese rivals, it's an alternative worth considering for shoppers in the mid-size car market. Buyers have plenty of body styles and options to choose from under the Pontiac G6 nameplate.
Pontiac G6 sedan Special Value ($17,245); base ($18,800); GT V6 sedan ($22,380); GT V6 coupe ($22,150); GT V6 convertible ($28,750); GTP V6 sedan ($24,650); GTP V6 coupe ($24,450)
Instead of side cladding, there is a single spear running down the sides of the G6 with an optional delicately integrated spoiler lip on the trailing edge of the decklid.
GTP models look similar to the GTs, but with a spoiler and chrome exhaust tips. The base version has almost no decoration at all, and is relatively dull-looking.
The coupe and convertible inject a little more excitement into the styling. The two share the same sleek profile, although the roof on the coupe looks much better integrated (for obvious reasons). The frameless windows are indexed, meaning that they automatically open 0.25 inch when the doors are opened, and close again when the door is closed for a tight seal. From the rear, both cars feature narrow taillights and a sloping decklid that looks similar to the Toyota Solara coupe and convertible. We think it's an improvement over the blander styling of the sedan.
The Pontiac G6 is built in Michigan on GM's international Epsilon platform, from parts and ideas used on the Saab 9-3, Opel Vectra, and Chevrolet Malibu.
All G6 models use the long wheelbase version of the Epsilon platform (like the Malibu Maxx), which gives them ride and handling finesse, with a structural stiffness that helps the G6 achieve a 27.3 Hz bending frequency, a big number that ranks with most luxury cars. Pontiac says the car is designed with three major torque rings that add stiffness and strength without taking up too much space or adding weight. In addition to the torque rings, the G6 structure also uses high-strength steel for about 60 percent of underbody components and central tunnel. Rather than just a single layer of sheet steel, the tunnel has an extra piece of steel welded between it and the floor pan. The stiff body uses fully isolated front and rear subframes to carry the heavy stuff, and the front one is hydroformed for strength and light weight.
These measures can be experienced in the smooth ride and sharp handling of the G6.
The sporty front bucket seats are made for body comfort and body retention in high-speed maneuvers, and they are very comfortable and thickly padded.
Rear-seat space benefits from the relatively long wheelbase of 112.3 inches. In the sedan, a 6-foot, 4-inch passenger can sit behind a 6-foot, 4-inch driver with plenty of room. Those with tall friends or family may want to remember that the Panoramic sunroof is powered by a motor that takes up a big chunk of headroom at the trailing edge of the sedan's headliner. The coupe's rear seating is a little tighter, and the convertible's tighter still, especially in shoulder and hip room. The available rear bucket seats in the G6 convertible are appropriate because we wouldn't want to put three people back there.
The dash is done in four major sections including a stark, ungrained plastic center stack that holds two vents, the sound system, heater controls, and a 12-volt power outlet. Instruments and controls are presented in white on black (red at night). Every single knob and escutcheon has a chrome ring around it; very tasteful, and nicely presented, with small, conservative graphics on the faces and labels.
The center stack has a red-LED readout and control panel that allows every owner to use the sound system's features, and to customize the locking, lighting, and other functions, with a trip computer and driver information system that's easy, intuitive and fun to use. This G6 offers a remote starting system for those cold winter mornings, power adjustable pedals, and OnStar and XM Satellite Radio, which use a single integrated antenna. The audio system works well and the knobs are sized well for operating while driving, a welcome relief from the tiny buttons and knobs on many systems. However, we miss the smart pre-set buttons used on previous GM vehicles that let the driver switch from favorite AM, FM and XM stations simply by pressing the pre-set; the new setup works like most radios, requiring the driver first change the band before switching to the favored station.
The Panoramic roof available for the four-door sedan comes open in four stacking segments, front to rear, and has about twice as much open area as the conventional sunroof, which is also offered. It's remarkable how easily it works, and keeps conversation possible even at very high road speeds. It's an interesting feature and we recommend it.
The convertible's top was engineered with Karmann, which specializes in convertibles. The big top opens and closes within 30 seconds, storing under the truck lid and a hard tonneau cover when open. We found it works exceptionally well, powering up or down with the press of a button. Hold the button down after it's done and the windows will power up or down appropriately.
The trunk is still accessible when the top is down, but space is reduced from a tiny 5.8 cubic feet to a grocery-bag sized 1.8 cubic feet. By comparison, the coupe offers 11 cubic feet of trunk space, while the sedan offers 14 cubic feet. Obviously, that can limit your use of the convertible's top-down mode on long trips. The trunklid on the convertible was heavy and relatively hard to lift open.
The handling is responsive and fun. The suspension strikes a good balance between handling and ride quality. The ride is comfortable and smooth and the car tracks well. The electric power steering is nicely weighted in terms effort at the steering wheel rim, but a little vague in fast transitions.
The popular 3.5-liter V6 is quiet and smooth, with a 0-60 mph time that's just enough to keep you out of trouble, but not enough to make your heart beat faster. The 3.5-liter V6 produces 224 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. GM has refined this overhead-valve engine and it's relatively smooth and quiet and gets decent fuel economy.
The more powerful GTP delivers more sprightly performance. The 3.6-liter engine that comes in the GTP is rated at 252 horsepower, 251 pound-feet of torque. This is an overhead-cam engine with variable-valve timing.
The EcoTec 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is from the same double overhead-cam engine family used in the Saab 9-3, Opel Vectra and Chevrolet Malibu. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is rated 169 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque.
The automatic transmission worked flawlessly. The four-speed automatic is matched well to the engine's power and torque bands. Most of the time, we simply put it in Drive and drove. However, the automatic features a neat, simple manual-control mechanism that allows the driver to shift manually. When the manual mode is selected, it will not automatically upshift for you at redline, it goes right up against the rev limiter, a strategy that enthusiasts prefer. An indicator light in the instrument panel helps remind you to shift.
We did a number of 90-0 mph ABS panic stops with the car on a deserted country road, and it stopped straight and true every time with no fade. The brakes have a nice, progressive power application through the pedal.
The Pontiac G6 is a roomy car that offers good road manners and excellent overall function, especially at initial prices. With sedans, coupes, convertibles, high-performance models, and a low-price leader all available, buyers should be able to find a G6 that suits their lifestyle.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw reported on the sedan from Detroit, with Mitch McCullough reporting on the coupe and convertible from Los Angeles.