2004 Pontiac Grand Prix Comp G - A healthy dose of good looks and power.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Style and Substance

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    By NATALIE NEFF (08:30 March 03, 2003)

    We will have to wait a few more years for a completely redesigned Grand Prix, but at least Pontiac is moving in the right direction with the substantially changed 2004 model.

    With its cleaner body and swoopier shape, this Grand Prix moves away from the plastic cladding that Pontiac passed off as “sporty” for years and steps closer to the crisp new vision it’s been hinting at with its last few show cars.

    To start with, General Motors’ “excitement” division has continued to erase the annoying cladding that once coated the car, replacing it with tauter body panels and more distinct details. The doors now feature a creased, arcing line over the rocker panels. Pontiac calls it a “Coke-bottle” design cue, and while we don’t necessarily see that, we do prefer the look of a stamped body panel to bolt-on plastic.

    Perhaps more refreshing is that Pontiac is not shy about acknowledging that it’s beginning to pursue a “cladding-free” approach to styling—an implicit admission to the weakness of its most recent practices—saying the car’s looks “point to a new, modern era of Pontiac design.”

    “[Grand Prix] builds smartly on the classic ‘less is more’ philosophy underpinning Pontiac’s contemporary design direction,” says the car’s designer John Manoogian, director of GM’s premium and midsize luxury design team.

    Beyond its cleaned-up sheetmetal, Pontiac also gave the car a new profile by moving the base of the backlight rearward by four inches and emphasizing the car’s rear haunches. For a long time the Grand Prix has been known for what Pontiac calls a “wedge” shape, but the changes result in a sleeker, more pronounced coupe-like silhouette. “We wanted to make the profile of the car look like a runner crouched in the starting blocks or a cat ready to pounce,” said Manoogian.

    It does cut a sharp profile, particularly for a four-door sedan.

    There are a few niggling bits in the car’s styling worth pointing out that we think detract from an otherwise worthy effort. The hood is too busy, with three full-length creases that splay out from the cowl to the grille. The effect is that of a folded dinner napkin unfurled over the engine bay. And though Pontiac has eliminated any tacked-on ribbing, vestiges of that rippling shape lie in the car’s rear end, flowing through the taillights onto the decklid and detracting from an otherwise nicely improved look.

    Pontiac also cleaned up the car’s interior, moving many of the gauges from the instrument panel to the driver information center at the top of the center stack and generally smoothing out the dashboard. The car has a cockpit-like feel inside, with the center stack aimed at the driver and all the flush-mounted controls well laid out and within easy reach. Even the quality of the materials used inside has been vastly improved over the outgoing model.

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    The Grand Prix makes a case for leaving the SUV at home with its wide-opening trunk. The liftover height has been lowered, and the car now features 60/40 split folding rear seats that lie flat when folded. The seatbacks have tie-downs built in, the rear doors open to almost 90 degrees and there’s an optional folding front passenger seat to maximize the car’s loading and carrying ability.

    But the story doesn’t end with updated styling and a more user-friendly layout. The car also gets a boost in output, particularly in the top model, the GTP. With its supercharged 3.8-liter V6, the GTP now puts out 260 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm, an increase of 20 horses over the current model. Most of that increase comes courtesy of a fifth-generation Eaton supercharger that Pontiac says is 13 percent more efficient than the blower used on the current car. The engine also features a larger, 75-mm throttle body, lightened engine cradle and combined the duties of the crankshaft isolator and damper into one piece they call a dampolator, all of which help make the engine more efficient.

    The base model GT isn’t too shabby, either, with its normally aspirated 3.8 putting out 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 225 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. (The current base trim package, the SE, disappears.) In both configurations, the 3.8 uses an electronic throttle control, or drive-by-wire, and the catalytic converters have been moved closer to the engine for quicker light-off times. Pontiac says these changes help the car not only to maintain decent fuel efficiency (estimated at an EPA combined 24 mpg in the GT and 22 in the GTP), but also achieve an ultra-low emissions vehicle rating.

    Added to the Grand Prix lineup for 2004 will be a performance package available exclusively on the GTP called Competition Group. Comp G cars get specific suspension tuning, unique 17-inch aluminum wheels and tires, and GM’s StabiliTrak Sport stability control system. It also gets its own steering system, Magnasteer II, a rack-and-pinion setup that uses lateral acceleration data as well as speed sensor information to modulate the steering (all other Grand Prix models use speed-sensitive Magnasteer I), and steering wheel shift control buttons called TAPShift. While it doesn’t truly emulate the manual transmission driving experience, one thing we like about TAPShift is that it only overrides the driver’s control at a full stop when it automatically shifts down to first gear. Pontiac estimates that a Grand Prix GTP Comp G will go 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and pull 0.83gs of lateral acceleration.

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    We found the GTP Comp G easy to handle. It provided a great deal of grip and a predictable amount of controllable understeer. Even with its tauter suspension tuning, the ride never got too harsh. We’d prefer an even stiffer setup than the Comp G offers, although we enjoyed the nicely tuned feel of the car during more casual driving. It’s not too isolating, though hardly sports car-like. The one major complaint we had during our initial drive was with the steering. Magnasteer II, despite its more performance-oriented claim, felt vague and artificial, particularly right off-center—just as it did in some other front-drive cars GM has put it in, such as the Olds Intrigue. Turn-in is quick, but the driver doesn’t get much in the way of feedback, which made for a somewhat uncomfortable driving experience.

    All models use a four-speed automatic transmission. While the MacPherson front strut and three-link independent rear suspension comes standard on all models, the Comp G gets a larger rear antiroll bar and Goodrich Comp T/A 225/55R-17 V-rated tires. GT models make do with 16-inch Goodyear Eagle 225/60s, while GTPs without the Comp G package get Michelin Energy 225/55R-17s. And all but the entry-level GTs come with standard ABS and tire pressure monitoring system. Sales begin this month with prices starting at $22,395 for the GT, with GTPs starting at $26,495. Comp G adds another $1,395 to the tab.

    The next-generation Grand Prix isn’t due for at least five years, but with the possibility of switching to GM’s corporate Epsilon platform, it holds promise of returning Grand Prix to truly sporty roots. Pontiac will make more enthusiasts happy with the GTO before then, but we shouldn’t overlook this commendable job of cleaning up the Grand Prix and making it a viable alternative in the sporty midsize sedan segment.

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    2004 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX GTP COMP G
    ON SALE: March
    BASE PRICE: $27,890
    POWERTRAIN: 3.8-liter, 260-hp, 280-lb-ft supercharged V6; fwd, four-speed automatic

    CURB WEIGHT: 3583 pounds
    0-60 MPH: 6.5 seconds

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  2. Mugatu

    Mugatu Ask me about market research. OT Supporter

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    :cool: but I wouldn't buy one (probably)
     
  3. PsychoDeli

    PsychoDeli Day of the Baphomets

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  4. ideeosinkruhcee

    ideeosinkruhcee With time and tons of food, I'll someday upgrade t

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    maxima>grand prix
     
  5. Aviv

    Aviv OT Supporter

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    cool, definitely something i'd consider. but it sucks that an all-new one wont be out for another 5 years. i thought this one was all-new :dunno:
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Pontiac is going in the right direction. :cool: :cool: :cool:
     
  7. WS6Formula350

    WS6Formula350 molestache amririte?

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    I'm surprised this thread isn't swarming with anti domestic rhetoric and other such hate yet. Cool lookin' car.
     
  8. Vineyard311

    Vineyard311 Wanna Race?

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    minus the front end on the grand prix
     
  9. ZAQ786

    ZAQ786 BMW: The reason Lexus is still 'In the pursuit of

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    Looks are subject to your own opinion, ESPECIALLY with that car.
     
  10. anjego

    anjego Invading your economy!

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    being a current GP owner, i was really looking forward to the new model... and after getting in one at the Chicago show, i wasn't impressed at all. the interior felt really plasticky... and that's compared to the CURRENT model. the steering wheel, in particular, goes from being a solid, leather-wrapped one in the current, to a weird thing with plastic spokes. i'm sad to say that i'm disappointed.
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I like the styling better than the 2004 Maxima, the current Altima, and the Accord sedan.

    :cool:
     
  12. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    automatic, front wheel drive, heavy.

    that 28k would go towards a much more deserving car.

    Although, i will give credit to pontiac for being on the road to goodness... not close yet though :p
     
  13. Supreme Allah

    Supreme Allah The terrorists won.

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    jesus fucking christ, almost $28000 for a grand prix?
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    You can say that about all sedans in that class.

    Except maybe the Mazda 6.
     
  15. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    :domesticnazi:
     
  16. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    Uglier than the new Maxima. I liked the current one better.:down:
     
  17. Dr_Trac

    Dr_Trac doh!@

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    werd....that's what i was thinkin. :sad2:
     
  18. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    And the Altima.
     
  19. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

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    Looks :cool: to me. :)
     
  20. Aviv

    Aviv OT Supporter

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    i think the current GP still looks good after 6 years
     
  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I agree, and since 1997 its been free of body cladding.
     
  22. Squeezer

    Squeezer Guest

    god damn the front of that car is still fucking ugly. Pontiac needs to get a new grill style. the headlights look straight off of a grand am. its still a piece of shit.
     
  23. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    I just said that.:confused: Now the interior is a whole 'nother animal...
     
  24. Achmiel

    Achmiel Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshi

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    How old is that 3.8 liter V6? You'd think they would be making more power at this point w/o having to use FI :dunno:
     
  25. Antilles

    Antilles New Member

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    I have a Grand Am, and I don't like it. :(
     

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