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2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 1
Posted May 26, 2005, 3:25 PM ET by Walter J Keegan Jr.


Back in 1998, I first saw the Monaro concept displayed at the Sydney Motor Show and once the real thing hit Australia’s streets in 2001, I couldn’t figure out why North America couldn’t join in the fun. The Mustang Fox-platform was long in the tooth and the deathwatch for the Camaro and Firebird was in full swing. What was a V-8 coupe-lover to do?

When the GTO was announced in 2003, everyone couldn’t wait for the first shipment from Australia until the staid styling and greedy dealers sent 2004 sales nowhere near what GM had hoped for. For 2005 the Pontiac GTO gets the fire-breathing LS2 6.0-liter with 400 horsepower and 400 lb ft or torque. Other changes address complaints that enthusiasts voiced like hood scoops, huge split dual exhaust system, larger brakes and a dead pedal.



To be honest, I’ve had no problems with the look of the GTO. I liked the Monaro, and like the interpretation as a modern GTO. Yes the design could be more agressive, but the car would have never made it these shores if it needed a complete redesign. A few heritage cues may have helped, though I’m convinced if this car came wearing the name “G8”, the noise about its design would have been a lot lower. Just look at the Charger complaints.



The GTO has to have one of the nicest interiors available from GM today. Ship some of these Holden guys over to North America. Its comfortable, uses great looking materials and thoughtful touches like the color-coded gauge faces, which gives the air of “perceived” quality.

We have a week with the Yellow Jacket Pontiac GTO to shake out the new engine and see if the tweaks have won the critics over.

Autoblog Story
 

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2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 2

2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 2
Posted May 28, 2005, 5:00 PM ET by Walter J Keegan Jr.



I already expressed I felt the interior of the GTO is one of the best in GM’s stable, thanks 100 percent to the talented men and women at GM’s Australian arm, Holden. They know how to throw together one heck of a cockpit. Nothing too over the top, just a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, tactile place to drive. The color-coded gauges just adds that touch of “thoughtfulness” a lot of GM interiors have missed.

It seems that the GTO is getting cross-shopped with the Mustang GT, and it makes sense. It’s the only rear-wheel drive V-8 coupe to compare it to. Some of my interior pros and cons will pit the first musclecar against the first pony car.



The GTO has a lot of passenger room. You can actually fit two adults in the back seats. It’s a little struggle to get back there, but once planted into the well-molded bucket seats, we don’t see too much to complain about. The front seats have a power-assisted rear access feature that puts a forward/backward button on the side of the seat to move them to allow access to the rear a little easier. There is a little storage compartment back there, but no cup holders. You shouldn’t be drinking in the back of a 400 horsepower monster anyway. You’ll spill it.



The dashboard and center stack is modern and does not dip into the regular GM parts bin since this car is all “down under”. The standard six-disc 200-watt Blaupunkt audio system with 10 speakers is nothing like what is General’s standard fare. Same goes for the HVAC controls. It a nice, easy to use system. The storage console has an accessory power outlet and there are two cupholders. There is also a Driver Information Center (the sadly named “DIC”) for fuel averages and trip computing. The color-coded stitching is another nice touch.



Driver and passenger seats have an eight-way power feature and are heavily bolstered to keep you in place. You fall into the seats and they seem to hug all around you. Materials are soft to the touch and there is a suede-like swatch of fabric that runs from door to door to break up the plastics.



U.S. regulations caused the Holden Monaro to go through one major change that is not apparent until you open the trunk: the gas tank has been repositioned to behind the rear seats, taking up valuable space. The Monaro’s tank was in the rear, a no-no for new cars in the U.S. The change shortens the GTO’s trunk space and removes any chance of a folding rear seat or trunk pass through. While the Mustang’s rear seats do not offer anywhere near the space the GTO does, it does have more cargo capacity.



The GTO offers one heck of an inviting interior and everything is standard (the only options are the six-speed manual and an enhanced appearance package). It’s a lesson to GM North America on how to do things: Make the driver think you care.

Autoblog Story
 

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2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 3 and 4

2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 3 and 4
Posted Jun 1, 2005, 11:15 AM ET by Walter J Keegan Jr.


Torque, torque and more torque. If you’re not a fan of “the pull” the GTO is not the car for you. For those that love the feeling, the GTO should move to the top of your list. The standard traction control system does a good job of keeping the independent rear from swinging out behind you but does allow for some wheel-spin so you don’t have to shut it off to hear a chirp or two.


The GTO is big and heavy, much like its past iteration, and is not the corner carver like lighter cars like the Subaru STi that Inside Line tested. The GTO is a different kind of beast. The suspension works hard to keep the body roll in check and could be beefed up with thicker sway bars.


The skip-shift is a little strange when it kicks in, but it is a way to keep the gas-guzzler tax off the back of the manual-equipped goats. To override the system, keep the revs high in first gear so it doesn’t push you to forth, or go for the quick aftermarket override. The shifter also is not the smoothest you’d use either, we’d replace it with a short throw unit used in the SLP Camaro SS.

Steering has a good road feel. You know you’re going where you’re pointing. Driving the GTO was never overbearing around town unless you put the pedal about half way down; then it kicks you back in your seat. The GTO feels quicker than some of the 0-60 times posted in certain magazines. I’d have to believe the sub-five second quote by GM.


The 2005 GTO gets a “proper” dual exhaust and a completely revised rear bumper to frame the huge chrome outlets. The new hood scoops, which I would opt to have deleted, are functional for heat extraction. There’s no Ram Air going on here, just more air to cool underhood. The scoops look better on darker GTOs where they don’t detract from the front end.

Other changes on the outside reflect the extra 0.3-liters added to the engine size with a 6.0 on the deck lid and on the retro fender mounted GTO badges. The GTO is closest vehicle to the old-school musclecars that I have driven with only two door handles.

 

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2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 5

2005 Pontiac GTO: In the Autoblog Garage Day 5
Posted Jun 3, 2005, 2:00 PM ET by Walter J Keegan Jr.


By now you probably know my real automotive love goes to the old musclecar formula, fast engine in the family car. While the idea of the family car has changed since the 1960s, with coupes dying out and everyone looking for four-door iterations of the classic formula, there are still a few holdouts. The 2005 Mustang has set automakers on their ears, making them realize there is still a market for a rear-wheel drive personal pony car again, so much so Hyundai is rumored to be prepping a RWD Tiburon replacement. But this is about the lonely GTO, a car that was lambasted by the press for its non-retro looks and Australian heritage.


The GTO impresses with a well-done interior, room for actual humans in the back seat, so much torque you almost don’t know what to do with it, traction control that helps keep it going straight, a look that is a sleeper and a four-wheel independent suspension setup that does a pretty good job at keeping the 3700 pound car in line.


Pontiac misses with a notchy six-speed with 1-4 skip shift (again, easy to override), storage capacity that is compromised by the placement of the gas tank in the trunk and entry that can be troublesome to taller drivers. The option list is short and does not include a sunroof to the dismay of sun worshipers.


The short option list keeps the GTO close to its base price. This six-speed Goat rang in at $33,690 with destination charges, not a bad price for the level of interior refinement and power that this car delivers. Everything is standard from big ABS brakes, limited slip rear, leather, 200-watt stereo system and power everything. The automatic GTO gets hit with a $1300 gas guzzler charge.


The GTO easily avoids the “metoo” stigma. With about 12,000 sales a year, chances are there won’t be too many around. Ford will crank out as many Mustangs as they can sell, and at a quick glance, the GT and base models are pretty interchangeable, that is until the slick GT500 goes on sale in a little more than a year. And even then, good luck getting one anywhere near the GTO price.

For those looking for a replacement for the Camaro/Firebird/Mustang good ol’ days, the GTO definitely surpasses the performance and refinement of any of those past nameplates. Unlike those days, the GTO is only available in one flavor that costs $33,000. If you can make the payments and have the Mustang on your shopping list, the GTO is well worth a test drive. You may be surprised how well Australia speaks classic musclecar.
 
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