First Drive: 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 7, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Performance, personality, and practicality

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    By Jeff Bartlett
    Motor Trend, April 2003

    WHAT'S HOT
    · Power and handling
    · Interior versatility
    · GP marks the dawn of an exciting Pontiac future

    WHAT'S NOT
    · Isolated steering
    · Rear seat comfort
    · No coupe version


    Taking pole position for a Pontiac rebirth, the 2004 Grand Prix is cleaner, meaner, and more refined than Ponchos past. Gone are the tacked-on cladding, overwrought interior styling, and benign road manners, all supplanted by an ambitious effort to challenge the midsize sedan segment wielding performance and packaging as weapons.

    While the primary Japanese players have rolled out new models over the past two years, each boasting V-6 models with well over 200 horsepower, the Grand Prix still lays claim to being the power player. The base Pontiac is motivated by the significantly revised Gen III 3800 V6 with 200HP matched with a four-speed automatic transmission good for 20/30 city/hwy fuel economy rating. The Grand Prix GTP fits the 3.8-liter engine with an Eaton supercharger for 260 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, besting even the quick 240-hp Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Acceleration numbers put the GTP at 15 seconds flat in the quarter mile, or a full second quicker than its 16 key competitors. The 0-60 mph time is 6.5 seconds, just a hair quicker than an automatic Altima.

    Beyond pure numbers, it is the character that distinguishes the Grand Prix. The development team sought a decidedly American personality wrapped with an international-flavored packaging. The result is a clean, streamlined exterior, relatively restrained interior, and patriotic bravado in the right places. For example, all models feature machined quad exhaust pipes, with the GTP emitting a particularly satisfying rumble.

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    With such twisting force available, we expected the front-driver to torque steer on hard launch like the Altima, but such sideways motion is almost entirely stifled. Naturally, the tires can still erupt in a neighborhood-terrorizing squeal with the traction control off. Very telling of the enthusiast mindset behind the GP, a little wheel spin is permitted with traction control on, still rewarding with a hearty chirp. Such nanny systems usually send a car into a fit of engine pacification and brake application to counter stoplight shenanigans, but Pontiac saw fit to reward the driver with a satisfying audio cue that ultimately does improve acceleration times.

    Adding to the driving excitement are the TAPshift steering-wheel mounted toggle controls to offer F1-style shifting. In the "manual" mode, gear selection is indicated in the driver information center. Just a light tap commands the automatic transmission to do the driver's bidding, increasing the man-machine interaction. A welcomed distinguishing feature, such controls were previously the province of premium autos, such as the Aston Martin, BMW, or Ferrari.

    While Americans are known for their straightline passions, Pontiac regarded handling as a primary objective, intent on pushing the sedan's corner-carving abilities to the segment's limits. The MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension has been tuned to balance road-holding and ride comfort, with decent ride isolation.

    The Competition Group (aka Comp G) suspension package features unique tuning, larger-diameter anti-roll bars, lighter-weight 17-inch aluminum wheels, and more aggressive tire fitment to achieve a reported 0.83 lateral g. So fitted, the Grand Prix feels solid with limited body roll and controlled manners, though not firm. Tipping the scales at 3583 pounds, the GTP is a hefty car that feels solid and unperturbed by aggressive driving, encouraging a heavy foot.

    To assist wayward drivers during moments of dynamic indiscretion, a Stabilitrak Sport system provides four-wheel stability assistance. Tuned for the enthusiast, the system is less intrusive than the related Stabilitrak offered on Cadillac models, enabling spirited driving with gentle corrections.

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    Like the Grand Prix's dynamics, the interior makes a similar evolutionary advance. The GP draws influence from European sedans for a cleaner, more modern appearance than the car it replaces. Controls remain a touch oversized, ensuring good ergonomics, and displays are easily read. The steering wheel feels a tad large, but its diameter enables a clear view of the instrument panel. Borrowing a concept from Saab, the GP dash can be darkened, leaving just the improved heads-up display illuminated at night. Panel gaps have been reduced, though still more pronounced than the Audi A4 engineers benchmarked.

    Front riders are treated to wide bucket seats, with gentle bolsters. The back seat passengers may wish they were up front, as the 60/40-split bench shape is compromised by its ability to fold flat. Some passengers will find issue with the seat back and bottom angles. However, there are no dissenting opinions for the cargo-toting versatility. Like a Chrysler PT Cruiser, the front passenger bucket tips horizontal. Fold down the optional bench to create a 9.5-foot space, easily large enough to bring home 2x4s or a ladder from the hardware store. (This interior flexibility was first exhibited on the Rageous concept that graced Motor Trend's cover a few years ago, proving there is always something to be gleaned from concept cars.) Access for entering or loading the rear is enhanced by a wide 82-degree rear door swing. The trunk itself is cavernous with 16 cubic feet of space, maximized through the use of scissor hinges and struts, rather than cheaper, intrusive goose-neck hinges.

    Priced similarly to the previous generation Grand Prix, the range starts at $21,760 and reaches $27,255 for a GTP with the Comp G package. Pontiac forecasts 75 percent of sales will be for the GT model, meaning a relatively high one in four buyers will experience the quick, confident, and capable GTP. We hope they select the optional suspension to savor the car's impressive abilities.

    Dedicated Poncho enthusiasts may hold out a year for the GM Performance Division-enhanced Grand Prix, possibly offering a V-8 like the imminent Bonneville GXP and an even tauter suspension.

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  2. AV8R

    AV8R Parked at OT's Gate #1

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    Raw Domestic Power > *
     
  3. ///TRASH

    ///TRASH Hideously Erect

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    not bad
     
  4. BlueadderGTP

    BlueadderGTP Ragin Cajun?

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  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I sat in one at the local dealership a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who is thinking of buying a new GTP.

    They look terrific in person and seem to be very nice cars. Substantially improved in every department, especially the interior in styling and quality.

    I think Pontiac has put together a real winner here that combines power, handling, fuel efficiency, practicality and comfort for a good price.
     
  6. P-Man

    P-Man Active Member

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    ugly
     
  7. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    I don't like the new styling. The old one was a damned good looking car when it first came out. This one looks like a bloated sunfire :o
     
  8. o.negative

    o.negative OT Supporter

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  9. SenenCito

    SenenCito OT Supporter

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    I wanna hump one
     
  10. BlueadderGTP

    BlueadderGTP Ragin Cajun?

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    I took a GTP for a spin the other day. It drives much better then my 98 and has decent power. The GP guys are already developing mods for the new prix.

    I want to see how the comp package GTP moves. This car is definetly going on my list of cars to consider purchasing at the end of the year.
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The old model is a good looking car, after seeing the new one, I'd say it looks a bit better, especially inside.
     
  12. BlueadderGTP

    BlueadderGTP Ragin Cajun?

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    I agree, but the interior is much better in the 04, and it is just an all around better car.
     
  13. ZAQ786

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

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    meh...the older ones look better. decent power, but ugly.

    Accord=overall better car.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    If my buddy and his fiance buy one I'll let you know how it drives, he's pretty set on the Comp G GTP.

    Either that a or Mazda 6, but the 6 is smaller and doesn't have the balzz the Pontiac does.
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Wow, you just described the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima/Maxima.

    The Accord is probably one of the best overall family sedans you can buy, but it isn't any prettier.
     
  16. MiseryIndex

    MiseryIndex i never know why. i only know who. Moderator

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    dude, pontiac's shit at the auto show as impressive. buick too.

    the new bonnis is teh shit!
     
  17. anjego

    anjego Invading your economy!

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    meh, i must say that i MUCH prefer the styling of the old model to this one. and the interior felt really cheap when i was in it at the auto show - the steering wheel particularly. it has plastic inserts and a cheap feel to it.

    oh, and the tailpipes... :barf:

    other than those complaints... :hitit:
     
  18. iZero

    iZero Guest

    Wow, in 2003 Pontiac was able to create another 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue. :rolleyes:
     
  19. iZero

    iZero Guest

    I saw the concept Grand Prix GXP at a car show, and I thought it looked decent. Now I see the production versions on the dealers lots, and they look shitty. GM seems unwilling to design cars that aren't either bland or tacky. This one is tacky.
     
  20. Vineyard311

    Vineyard311 Wanna Race?

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    :wtf: huh?
     
  21. iZero

    iZero Guest

    The Intrigue had all the traits Pontiac is claiming they "discovered". It's the same platform only as the "old" and "new" Grand Prix only it had cleaner exterior styling and no cheezy interior. GM killed off that car, now it looks like they're trying to recreate it only uglier and with a Pontiac badge.
     
  22. BlueadderGTP

    BlueadderGTP Ragin Cajun?

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    ignore him, the nissan nazi is just upset :p
     
  23. Vineyard311

    Vineyard311 Wanna Race?

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    um, FYI, GM upgraded the frame, it may still be the same basic frame from 15 years ago, but itll still outhandle all of its competition. They gave it more power, and like you said "cleaned up the exterior styling and doesnt have a cheezy interior."

    so what are u complaining about? That itll beat a Maxima or Altima?
     
  24. iZero

    iZero Guest

    :rofl:

    Yeah, that's it exactly. :rolleyes:
     
  25. Sonic

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

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    Better, but still behind the pack.
     

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