Road Test: 2004 Pontiac GTO

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Dec 6, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,754
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    No, Pontiac's new 2004 GTO is not an ear-shattering, liver-pummeling reincarnation of the original Goat. Yes, it is the fastest, most appealing GM muscle coupe in memory

    [​IMG]
    The GTO runs like a sophisticated executive's express.

    By Arthur St. Antoine
    Photography by John Kiewicz & Brian Vance
    Motor Trend, December 2004

    One look at the CD player, and you know the brand-new 2004 Pontiac GTO isn't General Motors business as usual. There, in the center of the dash, where you'd expect to find a member of the Delco family settled into its customary reserved seat, your eyes fall on the word "Blaupunkt." It's as startling as finding a Lowenbrau in your McDonald's Happy Meal.

    And it's only the first of the GTO's many surprises.

    The historians toiling in Motor Trend's windowless basement tell us that "GTO" stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato," which apparently is Italian for "goat." Or something like that. Anyway, you may recall that it was two score years ago that Pontiac, with a pre-DeLorean John DeLorean calling the shots, plopped a hulking Bonneville V-8 engine into a compact Tempest body to create the original GTO (well, okay, the name actually first appeared on a vehicle from a faraway carmaker that rhymes with "Pherrari," but let's not let that get in the way of a good story). The GTO's Schwarzenegger-engine-in-a-Hugh-Grant-body formula was an instant hit and, for the rest of the 1960s, an ever-more socially irresponsible breed of so-called musclecars painted America's streets with the ribbonlike remnants of their tortured rear tires.

    When word leaked out that Pontiac--now under the stewardship of another octane-loving visionary, GM Chairman Bob Lutz--would be unveiling an all-new GTO, some 30 years after the retirement of the original, the regulars around the MT water cooler immediately weighed in with predictions. "It'll be about as subtle as a Jerry Bruckheimer movie," said one. "Probably pretty rough around the edges," opined another. "Bet it breathes fire," offered a third.

    That was before a gleaming 2004 GTO showed up at our Los Angeles HQ--and proved that our crystal ball had been unplugged all along.


    Surprise #2: The new GTO looks nothing like a jukebox on wheels. True, the Yellow Jacket paint scheme on our test car was bright enough to give George Hamilton a sunburn, but the bodywork is as clean and sleek as a modern Euro coupe's. This may not be the most memorable shape behind today's showroom glass, but we applaud Pontiac's decision to skip the bolt-on body cladding and the shaving-mirror chrome wheels. Even the small rear wing looks appropriate, lending just the right sporty finish to the tail. In fact, the GTO is so tastefully subdued, it'll surely disappoint those expecting the Vin Diesel treatment. Yet the muscle is there for those who appreciate subtlety. Check out the ride height, for instance. When have you seen a factory General Motors product so rakishly low to the ground--or sporting such narrow tire-to-body gaps?

    Part of the explanation, of course, is that the GTO is no ordinary Pontiac. The car is based on the Monaro, a popular rear-drive coupe built by GM division Holden in Australia. And, in fact, all GTOs will be assembled Down Under. Starting this month, Pontiac will import roughly 18,000 annually at a base price of $32,495.

    [​IMG]
    GM interior tailoring at its finest: The GTO cockpit blends astutely arranged controls, handsome materials, tasteful metallic accents, and a level of fit and finish that sets new standards for General Motors vehicles. The sculptured seats are as appealing to the eyes as to the backside.

    Surprise #3: The cabin has the sporty elegance of a BMW's. Four large analog gauges (wearing faces color-coordinated with the exterior paint) lie in a large pod behind the wheel; the dials and much of the interior are trimmed with a classy satin-nickel finish (as are the drilled pedals). The four-spoke steering wheel (with integrated audio controls) feels good in your hands and is infinitely adjustable for tilt and telescope--something we've been nagging GM to do for years. The center stack houses straightforward climate controls and that Blaupunkt audio system--a 200-watt, 10-speaker affair with in-dash six-disc CD changer. There's not a blob of bling-bling marring the cool, businesslike ambiance. Your $500 aluminum attache case will look right at home here.

    [​IMG]

    Surprise #4: Fit and finish are the finest we've seen on a GM vehicle in decades. The body emits not a squeak and shimmies not a whit, parts gaps are tight and uniform (even on our preproduction pilot vehicle), the interior shapes flow smoothly into one another, and the materials are rich and handsome. Superb, beautifully stitched leather covers the wheel, the shift boot, and the seats. The seats themselves are simply spectacular, deeply bolstered for excellent support, and roomy enough to be accommodating for drivers of various sizes. Behind the front chairs are two more buckets--it takes some acrobatics to get to them (we'd like to see a power-seat advance when the front backrests are flopped forward), but once back there, adults can sit without holding their knees to their chins. (Trunk room is another issue: The GTO offers a paltry nine cubic feet of space under its bespoilered rear deck.)

    Surprise #5: Although it'll happily melt its rear BFGoodriches into rubber pudding (a standard traction-control system will step in to save your tires unless you switch it off), the GTO runs not like a shuddering, rackety musclecar, but like a sophisticated executive's express. The muscle is certainly there: Under the hood lies the same 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 that powers some Chevrolet Corvettes; in the GTO, it delivers a studly 350 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 365 pound-feet of torque at 4000. Coupled to the optional ($695) Tremec six-speed manual transmission (an electronically controlled four-speed automatic is standard), the Vette V-8 kicks the GTO with inspiring swiftness. Even wearing its standard M+S tires, our test car scorched from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and tripped the quarter-mile lights in 13.62 seconds at 104.78 mph--numbers that would leave a 1960s-vintage GTO seeing yellow.

    When we last tested a supercharged Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (another front-V-8, rear-drive two-plus-two priced in the mid-$30s), it bettered those numbers, reaching 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and nailing the quarter mile in 13.0 at 110.7 mph. But the track stats tell only a small fraction of the story. The aging Cobra is quick, sure, but driving it means putting up with its clunky personality and a suspension that clomps over the road as if it's wearing horseshoes (which explains why Ford will be releasing a redesigned Mustang in the next year).

    The GTO, in stark contrast--both to Ford's outgoing Mustang and to many previous GM machines--is all finesse and gracefulness. There's no penalty for the GTO's performance: The mighty Corvette engine is deliciously smooth, refined, and flexible (and makes exhilarating noises as it sweeps to its 6200-rpm redline), and the six-speed shifter moves as if cradled in a vat of precision goo. For sheer drivetrain refinement, the GTO easily matches Europe's best sporting coupes. And in a straight line, it'll smoke a similar rear-drive, V-8 two-door like the $52,000 Mercedes CLK500.

    [​IMG]
    Rippling with 350 liquid-smooth horsepower, the 5.7-liter V-8 engine--borrowed from the Corvette--launches the new GTO from a standstill to 60 mph in a soul-satisfying 5.3 seconds.

    Surprise #6: The GTO apparently has Cool Whip in its suspension. Forget that punishing big-numbers ride we've come to expect from performance cars--the GTO is too well-mannered to deliver constant, seat-pounding reminders of its sport-coupe intentions. Maximum handling grip--0.80 g--doesn't set any performance standards, but the GTO's real-world useability does. Several of our test drivers commented that they had driven few other coupes so poised, so well-balanced, so confidence-inspiring when you're in full-hustle mode. In that respect, the GTO will lose locker-room debates based on spec-chart bravado. But it shines where it counts: in the driver's seat.

    So the 2004 GTO isn't the rip-snorting, retro-themed muscle machine many die-hards may have been waiting for. We're not disappointed. What GM has delivered instead is a superbly crafted, tastefully styled, tautly muscled grand-touring car that stimulates your brain, not your kidneys. That such a suave machine wears the Pontiac badge may be the biggest--and the most pleasant--surprise of all.

    [​IMG]

    POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
    Vehicle layout Front engine, rwd, 2-door, 4-pass, coupe
    Engine type 90° V-8, aluminum block & heads
    Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl
    Bore x stroke, in/mm 3.90 x 3.62/99.0 x 92.0
    Displacement, ci/cc 345.7 / 5665
    Compression ratio 10.1:1
    Max horsepower @ rpm 350 @ 5200
    Max torque @ rpm 365 @ 4000

    Specific output, hp/liter 66.8
    Power-to-weight, lb/hp 10.6
    Max engine speed, rpm 6200
    Transmission 6-speed manual
    Axle/final-drive ratio:1 3.46 / 1.97
    Suspension, front; rear Struts, progressive-rate coil springs, anti-roll bar; semi-trailing control links, gas-pressurized dampers, anti-roll bar
    Brakes, f;r 11.7-in vented disc; 11.3-in disc, ABS
    Wheels 8.0 x 17 cast aluminum
    Tires, f;r 245/45ZR17 95W BFGoodrich GForce KDWS M+S

    [​IMG]

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase, in 109.8
    Track, f/r, in 61.4 / 62.1
    Length, in 189.8
    Width, in 72.5
    Height, in 54.9
    Turning circle, ft 36.1
    Legroom, f/r, in 42.2 / 37.1
    Shoulder room, f/r, in 59.7 / 51.7
    Headroom, f/r, in 37.3 / 37.3
    Cargo capacity, cu ft 9.0
    Curb weight, lb 3725
    Weight, f/r % 55/45

    Fuel capacity, gal 18.5

    [​IMG]

    PERFORMANCE DATA
    Acceleration
    0-30 mph 2.0 sec
    0-40 mph 3.0 sec
    0-50 mph 4.1 sec
    0-60 mph 5.3 sec
    0-70 mph 7.0 sec
    0-80 mph 8.7 sec
    0-90 mph 10.7 sec
    0-100 mph 13.1 sec
    1/4 mile, sec @ mph 13.62 @ 104.78

    Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 120
    600-ft slalom, mph 63.5
    200-ft skidpad, lateral g 0.80


    [​IMG]

    CONSUMER INFO
    On sale in U.S. December
    Base price $32,496
    Price as tested $33,190
    Warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
    EPA mph, city/hwy 18/28

    Recommended fuel Unleaded premium

    ------

    An even more potent GTO rumbles over the horizon

    [​IMG]

    If the 2004 GTO's 350 horsepower isn't sufficient brawn to earn your attention (perhaps you're a fan of biceps that actually shred the T-shirts they're encased in), well, sir or madam, your musclecar is coming. Within the next 12 months, Pontiac will release an even more compelling, extra-powerful GTO.

    Pontiac has made this power play before. By 1969, five years after the original GTO's unveiling, rival muscle machines like the Plymouth Road Runner, Chevy Chevelle SS396, and Ford 428 Cobra Jet Mustang were stealing GTO sales. Pontiac responded by fortifying the Goat with an extra-potent Ram Air engine and a host of flashy cosmetic add-ons. In deference to Flip Wilson's popular "Here comes the judge!" skit on the hit "Laugh-In" television show, the company dubbed its creation The Judge.

    A quarter century later, Pontiac has similar plans for the new GTO.
    The 21st Century Judge will use the high-output 5.7-liter LS6 V-8 that also serves in the Corvette Z06 and the Cadillac CTS-V. Output will hover right around 400 horsepower; a six-speed manual will be the only transmission offering. Also look for quad exhausts--two extending from each rear corner or possibly even two pipes running along each side. Wheels and tires will likely grow in size to 18 inches; the suspension will also receive stiffer, more aggressive tuning.

    Cosmetic changes likely will include a racier cockpit, a larger rear wing, and probably a hood scoop. Misty-eyed nostalgic types on our staff are also predicting flashy graphics and, with luck, an Orbit Orange paint job to match the original Judge's.

    Look for the high-output model to account for roughly 10 percent of GTO volume--say, 2000 cars a year or so. In all likelihood, Pontiac won't use the GTO Judge name. But to us, it sure sounds a lot better than "GTO Plaintiff."

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2003
  2. kRySs

    kRySs OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2002
    Messages:
    34,084
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Anaheim, California
    i know you want this :hs:
     
  3. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,175
    Likes Received:
    3,119
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    who are the ad wizards that chose those wheels?
     
  4. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    does it handelobraes?
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,754
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    I want one with heated seats, ram air and an LS6. :o
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,754
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Yes it does. :naughty:
     
  7. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    :eek3: I likey
     
  8. KyngNothing

    KyngNothing My own little world...

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2001
    Messages:
    11,383
    Likes Received:
    0
    :eek3:

    Although I dislike the fact that you can't choose options... (I hate that trend! Why should I have to pay for extra crap, just to get the better motor, or a manual, or the car at all!)
     
  9. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,175
    Likes Received:
    3,119
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    It's like they kept the good bits of the trans am, and went the complete opposite of it in every way for the rest of the car.

    Comfortable, sophisticated interior, mild exterior styling. Just kind of odd considering pontiac's recent history of wacky looking cars.
     
  10. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    It could afford to lose some weight though :o 3750 is kinda heavy
     
  11. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2001
    Messages:
    104,725
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok... I do like that car... but they really need to do something about that tacky steering wheel.
     
  12. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,175
    Likes Received:
    3,119
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    As safety regulations and consumer demand for luxury bits increases, so does the weight of cars :sad2:
     
  13. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    fuck safety and emissions! I don't need any of that shit on my car :mad:
     
  14. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2001
    Messages:
    104,725
    Likes Received:
    0
    ...fortunately the power has been increasing with it. :big grin:
     
  15. BlazinBlazer Guy

    BlazinBlazer Guy Witness to The De-Evolution of Mankind.

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    18,783
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lansing, MI USA
    hellllll yes!

    oh, and is it just me, or in this interior pic, do the front seats look like they came straight out of a trans am?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Y2Josh95

    Y2Josh95 Lurking...

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    3,767
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Akron, Ohio
    I want one so bad :hs:
     
  17. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,175
    Likes Received:
    3,119
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Just think of the performance (and economy) gains that could be had with lighter cars though :hs:

    I would kill for the supercharged dohc 4.6 ford motor in a foxbody mustang. It would be an absolute rocketship.
     
  18. BlazinBlazer Guy

    BlazinBlazer Guy Witness to The De-Evolution of Mankind.

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    18,783
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lansing, MI USA
    forget that... shoehorn a supercharged 5.4 triton into the foxbody :eek3: :zoombangtothemoonalice:
     
  19. coronet

    coronet Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    32,590
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Hills, Los Angeles, California
    Read the C&D article before resting your desicion on it. But i'd still get it.
     
  20. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2001
    Messages:
    104,725
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cliff notes? I don't read C&D.
     
  21. Laserbeak

    Laserbeak Remember kids! Be like Billy! BEHAVE YOURSELVES!

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2001
    Messages:
    22,926
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    WA
    I agree. It looks to ordinary to me. :(
     
  22. WS6Formula350

    WS6Formula350 molestache amririte?

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2001
    Messages:
    29,814
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Come to think of it, they do look like the leather version of the seats that I have
     
  23. ///TRASH

    ///TRASH Hideously Erect

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2001
    Messages:
    39,172
    Likes Received:
    461
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    The 03 cobra is faster and that's all that matters in a sports coupe so the cobra is the better car.
     
  24. Wolf

    Wolf No one plans to take the path that brings you lowe

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Messages:
    105,186
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I was thinking about a used 01-02 Cobra... this might be a better choice. Just have to see if the interior is big enough for me.
     
  25. Wolf

    Wolf No one plans to take the path that brings you lowe

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Messages:
    105,186
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yes, but the GTO is more of a sports coupe, not an all out performance car like the SVT.
     

Share This Page