Versus the competiton:
The vast majority of vehicles that automotive journalists test come from dedicated fleets maintained by the manufacturers, but once in a while, a new vehicle never makes it into that fleet. Such is the case with Pontiac’s new-for-2007 G5, a car I waited for but never got my hands on.
A friend recently bought one, though, and after spending an afternoon with it, I’m not sure why Pontiac is hiding this light, flickering though it may be, under a bushel.
When Chevrolet was building the Cobalt, Pontiac had its own version, the Sunfire. When Chevy replaced the Cavalier with the Cobalt, Pontiac declined the offer for a version of that car, leaving dealers without an entry-level model. The dealers did not like that, and helpfully pointed out that Pontiac was already selling a version of the Cobalt in Canada, called the Pursuit. So off came the Pursuit stickers, replaced with G5 badges, and domestic Pontiac dealers had a starter car.
Well, sort of. Pontiac decided to introduce the G5 only over the Internet, eschewing more conventional marketing methods, and it appears the experiment flopped: Chevrolet sold 21,247 Cobalts in May, and Pontiac sold 3,111 G5s. Part of this is because that Pontiac gets only the coupe model, not the sedan.
One of those 3,111 G5s was sold to my friend, who chose it over the Cobalt for two reasons: He liked the G5’s triangle-shaped taillights better than the Cobalt’s round ones, and his Pontiac dealer is a lot closer to the house.
He bought a GT coupe, the sportiest model. The GT has a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder — almost the same engine as in the Solstice sports car! Well, that’s what he says — coupled to a five-speed manual transmission. The base G5 has a 2.2-liter, 148-horsepower four-cylinder. A four-speed automatic is optional, and more popular. There were only a few options on the car, the main one being a power sunroof. Side and side-curtain airbags are optional, which this car did not have.
Not surprisingly, the G5 GT feels a lot like the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, which it pretty much is. The engine has plenty of pep but a little more vibration than some competitors. The Getrag five-speed manual transmission isn’t bad. Handling is precise — the GT’s bigger tires and wheels, plus its slightly stiffer suspension help.
Inside, the G5’s interior is a genuine improvement over the Sunfire’s, which was not hard to top. Up front, the bucket seats are comfortable; in back, Pontiac says you can put three people back there, but they’d best be very-close friends.
Base price on this G5 GT is $18,425, and with options and shipping, the sticker says $20,035. I suspect your local Pontiac salesperson would love to deal on a G5.