Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Misc. Comments On A Couple Of Sporty Midsize Cars

GM Inside News heaps lavish praise on the upcoming Pontiac G6 GTP - without even driving it. That's some fine reporting there, boys - get back to me when you're doing something beyond re-printing press releases.

The specs look good, but I'm curious to see if GM got the little things right. Is the engine willing to rev without a lot of NVH? That's something that the 3800 has never done, which is unfortunate because it just lends credibility to the pushrod stereotypes. How about the shift quality? Those that drove the manual-transmission N-cars will surely remember just how terrible that shifter was - it felt like someone used rubber bands for shift cables. No mention yet of price, either. Hopefully Pontiac learned a lesson after slapping a $38,000 tag on the Bonneville.

If all of that stuff comes together, well - I'm still unsure of why I'd buy it over a Honda Accord coupe. But hopefully the G6 GTP does well in the marketplace and brings a bit of "halo effect" to the Pontiac showrooms.

I'm a bit disappointed that GM is going back to hydraulic power steering assist for the GTP model as well. Knowing what little I do about traditional PS systems and the huge amount of work that goes into the mechanical tuning of the valving, I gotta imagine that electric power steering has far more potential, even if these early systems are a bit underwhelming. Hopefully they don't give up on it altogether, because that'd probably hurt their ability to roll-out full steer-by-wire in the future. This is going to be one of those deals where an American OEM rolls out a cool new idea, kinda blows it by half-assing the product introduction, gives up, and then watches the Japanese perfect the concept to much fanfare from the press.

Meanwhile, AutoWeek reports that the upcoming MazdaSpeed version of the 6 will be delayed as Mazda launches other models. Given the driving dynamics of the rest of Mazda's lineup, one can be assured they got the "little things" right, and I've got to imagine that a $28K AWD 270 HP midsize sedan will find itself popular among those who feel a bit too grown-up for the typical sport compact. I talk a lot about the need for vehicles that'll drag customers away from Honda and Toyota dealerships. This is probably one of those.

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