With today’s announcement from General Motors that Pontiac will cease to exist by the end of 2010, it dawned on me that I’ve had the opportunity to document history. Over the last year, I test drove and reviewed four different 2009 Pontiac vehicles, driving each for a week’s time.
Looking back on the reviews, Pontiac’s demise wasn’t difficult to predict, given the evaporation of Oldsmobile earlier this decade. The majority of Pontiac’s offerings were too much the same, offering nearly identical products to other brands. The Pontiac G6 is based on the Chevy Malibu, the G5 is based on the Chevy Cobalt, the Solstice is a twin of the Saturn Sky, and the Vibe is based on the Toyota Matrix.
Drive each of these cars against their cousins, and you’d be hard pressed to see much difference.
The Pontiac G8 is the one shining exception. Built and sold in Australia as the Holden Commodore, the G8 is a thoroughly modern sports sedan. While the G8 is light on technology, it offers exceptional performance. Given the attention, the Commodore/G8 could compete with the best in its class, on a worldwide basis.
It is increasingly clear that General Motors international assets are core to the company’s future. In today’s Q&A session, GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson, stressed that “the nature of those global relationships will change” within their new four core brand strategy (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC).
Before today’s press conference, it was my hope that the G8/Commodore would live on here in the States, either as a Chevy or more preferably as a Cadillac (but not both). Unfortunately, Fritz Henderson made the comment that the G8 would be phased out by the end of this year.
Regardless of that, I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of the car. With tweaks to the nose, tail, and interior, GM could have a brilliant new Cadillac in record time that would slot in just under the CTS and help bring more youthful drivers to the showroom. Given Henderson’s comments that Cadillac must “win in the United States,” there could be no clearer nor more rapid path to success.
The trump card?
Stuff a twin-turbo clean diesel under the Commodore’s hood to deliver performance and fuel economy to rival the BMW 335d.
2009 Pontiac G6 Review