Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

General Motors Corp. details prior to next week’s unveiling at the New York International Auto Show a pair of production-intent variants to its Pontiac G8 sedan – one boasting a 402-hp V-8 and another combining the performance of a coupe with the utility of a pickup.

Due at Pontiac dealers in late-2008 as a ’09 model, the Pontiac G8 GXP takes to another level the ride and handling dynamics and styling of the all-new G8 sedan that just began arriving at dealers last month, GM says.

The GXP model replaces the 6.0L V-8 of the G8 GT, which already lays out more than 360 hp and 385 lb.-ft. (520 Nm) of torque, with a 6.2L LS3 small-block V-8 rated at 402 hp and 402 lb.-ft. (546 Nm) of torque. GM anticipates a 0-60 mph (100 km/h) time of about 4.7 seconds and a quarter-mile of 13.0 seconds at 108 mph (174 km/h).

The LS3 represents the newest in GM’s small-block V-8 family. The G8 GXP marks the engine’s second application, following its debut on the ’08 Chevrolet Corvette, where it doles out up to 436 hp with an optional exhaust.

The GXP also answers the lack of a 6-speed manual gearbox with the G8 GT, by adding a Tremec TR6060 as optional equipment. GM will recommend premium fuel, whereas it merely suggests the mix for optimum performance on the G8 GT. The standard transmission will be GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic, with all gear ratios but the final drive matching those of the G8 GT (3.27 vs. 2.92).

The G8 GXP rides on the same Nurburgring-validated suspension as the GT model, which relies on a McPherson-strut design up front and a 4-link, coil-over-shock setup in the rear. GM specially tunes the system to stand as the G8 family’s top performer. And in a move that will allow enthusiasts to tailor the vehicle to their demands, such as the race track, the vehicle’s front and rear suspension geometries are fully adjustable for optimum performance.

Other performance enhancements to the G8 GXP include front-bake rotors that measure 14 ins. (35.5 cm) vs. 12.6 ins. (32 cm); and standard 19-in. wheels and summer tires. GM will make all-season rubber optional.

“More than just raw power, the GXP delivers the sophisticated yet exciting driving experience that enthusiasts expect in a car costing far more,” says Jim Bunnell, general manager of Buick-Pontiac-GMC, in a statement.

GM has not released pricing on the G8 GXP, but its GT stablemate starts at $29,995. As with the GT, base-model G8 and the sport truck, GM will build the G8 GXP in Adelaide, Australia, on the locally developed and engineered Zeta platform. Zeta represents the auto maker’s global rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Exterior styling enhancements to the G8 GXP include a unique front fascia with a lower splitter and a distinctive rear-fascia diffuser. Inside, GM adds satin and chrome trim accents with a primary instrument cluster that glows white, although Pontiac’s trademark red backlighting illuminates the rest of the cluster.

The G8 sport truck arrives in late 2009 as a ’10 model. In a unique twist reminiscent of GM asking consumers which of the three Chevrolet minicar concepts unveiled at last year’s New York show it should put into production, consumers will name the Pontiac sport truck. GM will takes votes at Pontiac’s website, and the winning entry will be announced April 15.

The 2-passenger sport truck, which immediately is recognizable as the Holden Ute sold in Australia, duplicates the G8 sedan from the front bumper to the B-pillar but adds a 73.9-in. (187.7-cm) pickup bed, with 42.7 cu.-ft. (1,208 L) of cargo space. A composite liner protects the bed, while a color-coordinated, soft tonneau cover protects rear cargo. GM fully conceals the tailgate hinges for a sculpted look in the rear.

The auto maker estimates payload at more than 1,074 lbs. (488 kg) and towing capacity at 3,500 lbs. (1,600 kg).

“We definitely believe that there are customers who will be excited by its distinctive design, performance and cargo capabilities,” Bunnell says of the sport truck.

The vehicle receives the same 6.0L V-8 with cylinder deactivation that appears in the G8 GT, as well as the GT’s 6-speed automatic transmission, although GM will recommend premium fuel.

The sport truck recalls the Chevy El Camino that GM sold in interrupted model-year runs between 1959 and 1987.