By KBB.com Editors
Kinship between Pontiac and Chevrolet models is nothing new. Back in 1967, for instance, when Chevrolet launched its original Camaro, Pontiac followed with a Firebird. This time, it's the 2008 Pontiac G5 compact coupe that is related to Chevrolet's Cobalt. Consisting only of coupes, Pontiac's G5 model lineup offers fewer choices than Chevrolet's Cobalt group and lacks the latter's supercharged top-end entry. Built on GM's global small-car platform and considered an "entry-level" model, the front-wheel-drive G5 comes in two trim levels, each with its own four-cylinder engine and suspension setup. A standard rear spoiler suggests Pontiac's sportier nature.You'll Like This Car If...
If small cars light your fire and you prefer to "buy domestic," Pontiac has an attractive answer to your quest. Youthful buyers, in particular, are likely to gravitate toward the 2008 Pontiac G5, lured by its curvy two-door profile and frisky performance, even in base-model form.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're searching for full-bore small-coupe performance, you might be happier with Chevrolet's Cobalt SS Supercharged model, or with other high-output compacts.What's Significant About This Car?
Base models receive XM Satellite Radio, head-curtain side airbags and a tire pressure monitoring sytem, while the GT trims receive OnStar and StabiliTrak stability control.Driving It Driving Impressions
Like its Chevrolet counterpart, the 2008 Pontiac G5 is a friendly little coupe. Even with the base engine and automatic, the frisky G5 responds enthusiastically to the gas pedal, while starting off or at speed, making the GT's engine less compelling. Automatic-transmission shifts are crisp but smooth, and downshifts come promptly. Ride comfort is good on smooth highways but less so on rougher pavement, even with the base suspension. Though not quite flat in quick curves, this coupe can deal with the corners quite capably. Thick pillars and miniature quarter-pane windows hinder visibility.Favorite Features
Powertrain with Automatic Transmission
Even the 148-horsepower engine delivers the goods with performance that beats many small cars, which typically lose energy when fitted with an automatic transmission.
Sport-Style Front Seats
No, they're not true sports-car buckets, but snug side bolstering and an assertively firm seatback almost give the impression that you're sitting in a real sport machine.
In theory, at least, five occupants can squeeze into the G5's cozy cockpit on cloth-upholstered front buckets and a split-folding rear seat. Backseat riders had better be young and/or small, though, as heads can easily hit the roof and elbow and leg space isn't much better. Pontiac has long been the "sporty" member of the General Motors family, so white-faced sport gauges are no big surprise. Carpeted floor mats come standard, along with four cupholders, with two in front and two in back. The GT coupe also includes a cargo net. Seat bottoms are quite short, with somewhat hard cushioning but excellent support.Exterior
Built on a 103.5-inch wheelbase, the 2008 Pontiac G5 is 179.8 inches longclose to the Cobalt. Familiar Pontiac styling cues include the twin-port grille. Foglamps are included on the GT and available for the base car. Base models roll on 15-inch tires, while the GT gets 17-inch rubber on polished aluminum wheels. A "touring" suspension is installed on the base model, but the GT gets a "Sport-Tuned" setup that delivers a firmer and more direct feel and ride.Notable Standard Equipment
Both G5 models are comparatively well-equipped. The base G5 includes air conditioning (with air filtration), power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, XM Satellite Radio, head-curtain side airbags, a CD player with MP3 capability, tilt steering wheel and touring suspension. In addition to a larger engine, the G5 GT adds all-disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), sport rocker moldings, fog lamps, cruise control, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with touch controls, OnStar, StabiliTrak, a Pioneer audio system, 17-inch wheels and a Sport-Tuned suspension.Notable Optional Equipment
Many of the items that come standard on the GT coupe can be installed in a base model at extra cost, including ABS and the Pioneer audio system. Additional options include leather-appointed seats (GT), remote start and an in-dash six-CD changer. A sunroof is part of the base coupe's Sun and Sound Package, while the GT offers a sunroof as a stand-alone option.Under the Hood
In the base-model G5, a 2.2-liter four-cylinder Ecotec engine produces 148 horsepower, driving a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. A 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine that uses premium-grade gasoline goes into the GT model.
2.2-liter in-line 4
148 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
152 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)
2.4-liter in-line 4
171 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)
In base trim, the G5's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $15,500, while the GT model stickers for around $19,500. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is likely to be lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what a G5 is currently selling for in your area. With the G5, Pontiac competes mainly against the closely-related Chevrolet Cobalt coupe, which starts about $1,000 less. In terms of resale value, we predict that the G5 will perform below average over time. It is comparable to the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Ford Focus, but well behind import-brand competitors such as the Honda Civic coupe, Mazda Mazda3, Scion tC and Volkswagen GTI.