Carmaker re-enters performance division with G5

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Pontiac's thinking small this winter.

The General Motors division just unveiled the 2007 Pontiac G5 Coupe and G5 GT Coupe, the first new compact cars for GM's performance division since the Sunfire was dropped a few years ago.

Prices start at $14,995 for the G5 Coupe and $17,795 for the G5 GT Coupe. The 2.2 liter "Ecotec" four (rated at 25 mpg city/34 highway) and the 2.4 liter, 173 horsepower V-6 are the two engines of choice for this car.

At first glance, you'll take one look and think "Chevy Cobalt." That's entirely appropriate since the Pontiac G5 is built on the same platform and, style-wise, is almost identical to the Cobalt.

The 2007 Pontiac G5.
Click photo for larger image.

Pontiac probably would not like to admit it, but this is "badge engineering," pure and simple. That's the practice of taking one car and simply making it part of another car model lineup.

Under most circumstances, I dislike badge engineering because it dilutes the individuality of the vehicle and stifles creativity. But this is also one time when you'll want to overlook the practice because the car itself has a lot to offer.

The G5 is blessed with a long list of goodies, including an aero spoiler, full power equipment and a standard five-speed Getrag manual transmission. And if you have to use badge engineering, there's no better choice than the Cobalt, which has won acclaim for its performance, safety, reliability and fun-to-drive quotient.

Meanwhile, Pontiac is still touting its beautiful G6 coupe and convertible. The G6 has a two-piece clamshell-style retractable hardtop that was developed by convertible engineering specialist Karmann. It takes about 30 seconds to change.

The car also uses a double-hinged trunk lid that can open like a normal trunk for luggage storage but also has a reverse-hinge system that allows it to accept the folding hardtop. All G6 convertibles undergo stringent water tests at the factory to ensure a dry interior in rainy, top-up conditions.

The standard engine in the convertible is a 3.5 liter, 201 horsepower V-6 with a four speed automatic transmission rated at 21 mpg city and 29 highway.

There also is a GTP version of the convertible, just as there are GTP coupes and sedans.

They feature a 227 horsepower V-6 (18 city/24 highway with an automatic transmission, 18 city/26 highway with a manual transmission), sport-tuned suspension, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and a special GTP interior design, among other things.

G6 Sedans cost between $17,060 to $24,465; coupes $21,965 to $24,465, and the convertible costs $28,565.



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