ANAHEIM, CA – The second GXP performance model from Pontiac will provide the ’05 Grand Prix sedan with its first V-8 engine since 1987, General Motors Corp. reveals here at the California International Auto Show.

The Grand Prix GXP, which follows the V-8-powered Bonneville GXP in Pontiac’s lineup, offers a sport-tuned suspension, new all-aluminum 5.3L V-8 engine producing an estimated 290 hp and a 4-speed electronically controlled transmission with GM’s TAPShift manual-automatic.

The Grand Prix GXP is scheduled to start production in first-quarter 2005. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

“The GXP performance series is about more than extra horsepower – it’s an extension of Pontiac’s total performance lineup,” says Jim Bunnell, Pontiac-GMC general manager.

The ’05 Grand Prix GXP features the car’s first V-8 since 1987.

“We’ve taken a systematic approach to elevating all aspects of the Grand Prix’s dynamics, ratcheting up everything from handling to styling and refinement, to give performance-oriented customers the exhilarating driving experience they desire.”

The Grand Prix GXP is the first application for GM’s small-block V-8 in a front-wheel-drive configuration. It also is the first Pontiac equipped with GM’s Displacement on Demand (DOD) cylinder de-activation technology, which can provide up to a 12% improvement in fuel economy, GM claims.

GM expects the Grand Prix GXP to deliver 0-60 mph (97 km/h) performance in 6 seconds.

“There’s nothing like the satisfying feel of a V-8 engine, and the 5300 V-8 provides a level of performance rarely available in competitors’ vehicles,” says Dave Muscaro, assistant chief engineer of small-block V-8s for passenger cars.

“But when all eight cylinders aren’t required to maintain performance, DOD technology effectively turns the engine into a more efficient V-4.”

The 5.3L has been modified to accommodate the east-west mounting position of the Grand Prix’s FWD chassis. To fit the positioning in the Grand Prix, several changes were made to reduce the engine’s overall length, including the use of a shorter crankshaft and a single-belt accessory drive system.

The revamped suspension features gas-charged struts and higher rate springs. Ride height has been reduced 0.3 ins. (9 mm). Front wheels and tires are wider, and brake rotors are larger, GM says. Magnasteer II and StabiliTrak are standard.

The Grand Prix GXP has an aggressive, hunkered-down look due to a re-tuned suspension that lowers the vehicle 0.4 ins. (9 mm).

There is a new front fascia, revised chrome-ring inserts and lower air inlets. GXP badges are affixed to the vehicle’s doors and exhaust outlets are more prominent.

The interior features suede inserts for the leather seating, brushed aluminum trim accents and doorsill plates.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com