As the 2003 season begins, both the GT coupe and GTP coupe editions of Pontiacs midsize front-wheel-drive Grand Prix series are disappearing. The sedans in those trim levels remain on sale and will now be available with Limited Edition packages. Rear reading lamps, assist grips, a full overhead console and a CD player with six-speaker sound are now standard. A head-up instrument display is offered as a stand-alone option.
Long known for its familiar Wide Track stance, Pontiacs sporty midsize comes in an SE trim with a 3.1-liter V-6 engine, as the GT with a 3.8-liter V-6 and in a GTP trim with a supercharged V-6. In size and price, the Grand Prix fits between the compact Grand Am and the full-size Bonneville.
A next-generation Grand Prix evolved from the G-Force show car seen at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2002 could arrive in 2004. The Grand Prix badge has a distinguished heritage that dates back to 1962.
With a 110.5-inch wheelbase and measuring 197.5 inches long overall, the Grand Prix is about 5 inches shorter than the Bonneville. Fog lamps are standard, and a power moonroof is optional on the GT and GTP models.
Except for the back doors and rear quarter panels, curvaceous styling and sporty details are the same on both Grand Prix body styles. The tires measure 15 inches in diameter for the SE and 16 inches in diameter for the GT and GTP sedans.
The Grand Prix is spacious enough for five adult occupants. GMs OnStar communication system is a standard feature in the GTP and a factory-installed option in the GT. The deep trunk holds 16 cubic feet of cargo, and a backseat pass-thru is installed. A six-way power drivers seat goes into the GT, and the GTP gets a CD player with equalization.
Under the Hood
The lowest-priced SE model uses a 3.1-liter V-6 engine that generates 175 horsepower. Stepping up a notch, a 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 is standard in the GT and is optional in SE models. The GTP sedan is equipped with a supercharged version of the 3.8-liter V-6 and develops 240 hp. All engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on the GTP and optional on the SE and GT models. Side-impact airbags are not available.
The Grand Prix has many appealing features, but it cant quite compare to European and most Asian models in solidity. The current models build quality is better than it used to be. Otherwise, the Grand Prix performs energetically with its 3.8-liter V-6, especially if it happens to be supercharged. But when passing at highway speeds, theres little evidence that the supercharger has taken hold.
The GTPs suspension eases over quite a few road flaws, but it gives the impression of avoiding rather than absorbing them. Its handling skills are a plus.
Headroom is ample in each seating position, but a power sunroof steals some space up front. Following Pontiac tradition, the dashboard is loaded with gauges and readouts that light up in orange at night.