AutoWeek Driver's Log: 2005 GTO
2005 Pontiac GTO
Published Date: 8/15/05
DATE IN FLEET: July 19-Aug. 2
AS-TESTED PRICE: $33,690
POWERTRAIN: 6.0-liter V8; rwd, six-speed manual
OUTPUT: 400 hp @ 5200 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3750 lbs
FUEL MILAGE (EPA COMBINED/AW OBSERVED): 19.9 mpg/18.11 mpg
GRITZINGER: There’s a load to love about this 400-hp GTO, from the bright yellow skin (that wraps right inside to the yellow leather stitching and yellow-backed gauges) to the mighty roar of the big V8 and the meaty six-speed manual transmission. Shades of true muscle from the past, only this time with a suspension and brakes to match the prodigious underhood output. Unlike muscle car manual trannies from Pontiacs of the past, this one comes with two extra gears and doesn’t require a gym membership and steroids to bang the shifter from gear to gear. And come to think of it, no hanging shift linkages either. That’s a big plus.
The car is a joy to ram around in, except for the too-soft front buckets and the lack of ample foot room in the dead-pedal area. I found my size-nine-and-a-half shoe hung up routinely between the left side of the footwell and the drilled metal clutch pedal, so I can only imagine drivers with bigger feet would have even more problems.
FLOYD: Like Gritz, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Detroit muscle (albeit via Oz), and this puppy is one of the best things the Big Two and a Half have going in that department, despite its oft-hammered looks. Although the new hood and rear dual pipes do help to punch up the car’s bland exoskeleton, it still needs a more aggressive effects package overall. For a car that’s packin’ 400 hp of tire-smoking madness, it’s a real shame it doesn’t have a look more in tune with its wicked nature. But get by that and there’s much to like. The six-speed is easy to get aggressive with and the GTO lays down rubber in multiple gears. One area I’d like to see Pontiac work on is the suspension; it could be tightened up some, but it’s good enough to have some fun with in the corners. Same with the brakes: They stop well, but a tad more grab is in order. I like the interior, but like Gritz said, the dead-pedal/clutch-pedal problem needs to be addressed. And slightly more bolstered seats would be nice as well. This car is off by just a hair, but it’s got more than enough fur on its Aussie chest to represent as a kick-ass Detroit mauler.
RAYNAL: I love growling V8s as much as anyone. And like Gritz and Floyd say, this is a rockin’ muscle car throwback. In addition to the dead-pedal/clutch-pedal problem mentioned above, I also didn’t like the steering. It felt too slow-witted; not much on-center feel at all. Properly weighted, yes, but too slow to react to inputs.
Other than that I had a great time standing on the gas, listening to that big V8 howl. A lotta fun.
MORRISON: No, Raynal, it isn’t just you; the steering features a significant dead spot. Call it Death Valley. Once you dial in some lock and actually get the car to change direction, the steering has some weight to it, but it’s slow and disconnected. Not a good feeling when you travel at high speeds, which this GTO roars to in a hurry. A serious hurry. The 6.0-liter LS1 launches this bad boy with such velocity that I expected to see flames scorching the pavement behind me, just like Doc Brown’s DeLorean as it punches through the 88-mph barrier. Speaking of that DeLorean, Pontiac should offer a flux capacitor option, as this Pontiacisized Holden Monaro would be right at home in Detroit’s halcyon days of big displacement and long, twin rubber streaks marking every road of consequence.
Please, though, tighten up the suspension, fix the steering and reposition the pedals. Not only can you easily hang up your left foot between the footrest and clutch, the brake and throttle are positioned so as to render heel-toe shifting a pipe dream. I suppose most GTO drivers don’t even think about heel-toeing, but what’s wrong with making it possible for those of us who do, muscle car or not?
Like Floyd, I also wish for a better exterior with more attitude and personality; this Grand Prix-on-growth-hormone look isn’t exactly the best on the road. It’s not even the best in a Pontiac showroom.
I know that most of you guys don't want to hear it, but I agree with these guys on just about everything except the usual styling whines...which is subjective anyway. I've put what I feel the definitive sentence of the piece in bold...he's exactly right. It's already a superlative value (not addressed above, BTW, so that's guilt by omission), but if Holden can address those concerns I've put in bold, this car would be a true world-beater.