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SEMA 2008 show report: Pontiac G8 and Solstice

Published: 07 November 2008

According to Pontiac, its G8 GXP Street, G8 ST and Solstice GXP concepts at the SEMA show ‘raise the performance bar even higher, taking style and sportiness to the highest levels’. Time to don your oxygen masks as we scale the dizzy heights of Pontiac’s performance peaks.

What exactly is the G8 GXP Street? It sounds interesting…

While the standard GXP isn’t short of grunt with a 6.2-litre 415bhp V8 under the bonnet, the Street swings with a hefty 7.4-litre punch that’s good for 638bhp and 600lb ft of torque. It’s a stock ‘crate’ GM engine, and it’s hooked up to the GXP’s six-cog automatic transmission. It then borrows its suspension upgrades and brakes from the mighty Cadillac CTS-V, complete with customised exhaust job, and wraps the whole thing in a de-chromed bespoke body kit, black 20-inch alloys and trick rubber. Cut price M5/E63/RS6 anyone…?

Not bad at all. Now what’s with this pick-up - one for fast plumbers?

The G8 ST concept will have every Pontiac-buying workman salivating because it will actually go into production in late 2009. Powered by a brawny 6.0-litre small-block V8 that’s good for 361bhp and 385 lb ft, the engine features GM’s Active Fuel Management technology – marketing talk for cylinder shutdown, allowing it to switch from four to eight-cylinder power according to load. It’s hooked up to a six-speed automatic, and its 20-inch alloys, rigid tonneau cover and leather-wrapped cabin complete the package. Cool, in a high-powered hill billy kinda way.

That Solstice looks pretty cool, too…

We beg to differ. Having driven the base Solstice we can rather sadly inform you that it's a complete dog to drive, and only its looks and bargain basement sub-$25,000 price tag save it from outright ignominy. To give this hotrod Solstice some performance credibility, it’s blown 2.0-litre Ecotec engine has been coaxed to produce 290bhp and breathes through a low-pressure exhaust system. It also gets uprated suspension and brakes, lots of leather in the cabin and alloy pedals.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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