The Pontiac G5 is a good-looking front-wheel-drive coupe that delivers satisfying straight-line performance and reasonable fuel economy.
The G5 comes in a standard version and as a sportier GT. The GT has a firmer suspension, 17-inch tires, and a 171-horsepower, 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine. The standard version comes with a 148-hp, 2.2 liter four-cylinder. Either way a five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic is optional.
We drove a Pontiac G5 GT automatic, and enjoyed its good acceleration and a pleasing lack of noise or vibration for a four-cylinder, even when pushed hard. The ride is a bit firm but not uncomfortable.
With any coupe, interior space and passenger capacity are compromised for sporty styling and that's the case here. Pontiac describes the G5 as a five-passenger car, but limited rear legroom makes carrying five adults a serious challenge. The back of the cabin is best used for parcels.
Underneath the G5 are the same mechanical underpinnings from the Chevrolet Cobalt coupe that was introduced in 2005. Essentially, the G5 is Pontiac's version of the Cobalt; except that Chevrolet offers a four-door sedan variant and Pontiac does not.
For 2008, the G5 is little changed, having just been introduced for 2007. Standard equipment has been upgraded: 2008 G5 models come with head-curtain airbags, a tire-pressure monitor, and XM Satellite Radio. OnStar and StabiliTrak are now standard on the GT.
The 2008 Pontiac G5 is available only as a coupe, which means slick styling but only two doors and a smallish back seat. It comes in two trim levels, base and GT.
The G5 ($15,475) comes with a 148-hp, 2.2 liter four-cylinder. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, fold-down back seat, height-adjustable driver's seat, remote/keyless entry, and 195/60R15 touring tires on 15-inch steel wheels. XM Satellite Radio is standard. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual; a four-speed automatic is optional ($925). The standard suspension, which GM calls FE1, is tuned for a smooth ride. Brakes are discs in front, drums in the rear.
Options include the upgraded stereo ($295), OnStar ($295), ABS ($400), and a Sport Package ($695) comprising a leather wrapped shifter and steering wheel, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, 16-inch machined aluminum wheels, chrome exhaust tip, and foglamps.
The G5 GT ($19,650) comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 171 horsepower, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock (ABS), FE3 sport suspension, and 17-inch aluminum wheels wearing summer performance tires. The GT also adds cruise control, foglamps, OnStar, a seven-speaker stereo, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel, and a chrome-tipped exhaust. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual; a four-speed automatic is optional ($925).
Options for both models include a sunroof ($750), six-CD changer ($295), leather seats with front seat heaters ($695-990), engine block heater ($75), and remote starter ($190). A cigarette lighter and ashtray are also available ($35).
Safety features include frontal air bags, and front seat belts with pretensioners (in a crash these remove the slack). Always wear those seat belts because they are your most important line of defense in a crash. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), standard on GT and optional on the base model, can help drivers avoid accidents by allowing them to maintain control of the steering at maximum braking effort. ABS is well worth the price.
The OnStar service available on the 2008 G5 includes the General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, which makes crash data available to participating 911 centers, to help them dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster. Also available is OnStar's Vehicle Diagnostics notification system that allows subscribers to receive free monthly reports via E-mail. Each diagnostic report provides information on the remaining life of the engine oil, as well as tire pressures and checks on the engine and transmission, emissions controls, braking systems, and air bags.