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AutoWeek Driver's Log: 2005 GTO


http://autoweek.com/article.cms?articleId=102926

2005 Pontiac GTO
AUTOWEEK

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.
 

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The seats are too soft? There has never been any mention of that anyplace else. Seems like the first guy threw that out -- and the rest of them decided to parrot it. Instead of complaining about the seats -- maybe they need to get their flabby butts into the gym.

Problem with a the gap between the dead pedal and clutch? Again, never heard of that. My feet are size 11 -- and I sometimes drive with big 'ol riding boots when going to the stables -- with no problem. Maybe something's up in the '05s -- but I can't imagine that to be the case.

Anybody else think the seats are too soft? That the gap between the clutch and dead pedal (in the '05s) is too small?
 

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b_a_betterperson said:
The seats are too soft? There has never been any mention of that anyplace else. Seems like the first guy threw that out -- and the rest of them decided to parrot it. Instead of complaining about the seats -- maybe they need to get their flabby butts into the gym.

Problem with a the gap between the dead pedal and clutch? Again, never heard of that. My feet are size 11 -- and I sometimes drive with big 'ol riding boots when going to the stables -- with no problem. Maybe something's up in the '05s -- but I can't imagine that to be the case.

Anybody else think the seats are too soft? That the gap between the clutch and dead pedal (in the '05s) is too small?
Hey B,
The seat thing is BS AND I dont see why the suspension needs to be any firmer than it is. They need to get the body roll out of it is all. My back wouldnt take too much more from the suspension. These seats are awesome, save the mechanics. The space between the clutch and the kick plate is very small for me. Size 15's and the inside of my shoe scrapes against the pedal when I try and stuff it down there. When I wear work boots, forget it. I just end up with my foot flat on the floor in front of the pedal. I guess I dont know what "heel to toe" driving is, my feet are big enough that my heel is either on the floor mat or my toes are ripping out electrical wiring under the dash. :cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't think the seats are too soft, but I do agree that more bolster would be better....I'd like an adjustable lumbar too. However, I recognize the price point the GTO sits at and the seats are good for the money.

I do think the suspension, out of the box, is a bit too boaty. PE bushings helped, and Yellow Konis would rock. But I'm kinda hardcore that way.

I can heel-toe the pedals, but the difference in elevation between the brake and accelerator make it clumsier than it can be. I can't comment on the dead pedal thing because I don't have one.
 

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Groucho said:
I don't think the seats are too soft, but I do agree that more bolster would be better....I'd like an adjustable lumbar too. However, I recognize the price point the GTO sits at and the seats are good for the money.

I do think the suspension, out of the box, is a bit too boaty. PE bushings helped, and Yellow Konis would rock. But I'm kinda hardcore that way.

I can heel-toe the pedals, but the difference in elevation between the brake and accelerator make it clumsier than it can be. I can't comment on the dead pedal thing because I don't have one.
You dont have an adjustable lumbar? Both my seats have this big cog-shaped wheel on the side that allows you to stuff a shi*-load of lumbar in your back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
JMVorbeck said:
You dont have an adjustable lumbar? Both my seats have this big cog-shaped wheel on the side that allows you to stuff a shi*-load of lumbar in your back.

D'oh. Brainfart. I misspoke (missposted?).

I meant thigh support...but lumbar stuck in my head.
 

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The only criticism I really agree with is about pedal placement. If the brake and clutch were scootched just a bit to the right, it'd do two things: 1) make heel-and-toe shifting easier; and 2) make it easier for my left foot to go back and forth from the clutch to the dead pedal. As it is, I often catch my toe on the backside of the hood release going from the dead pedal to the clutch (and I'm not a bigfoot--just size 11-and-a-half).

Heel-and-toe shifting is possible in the GTO; it's just not as easy as it is in other cars. I've never been a true heel-and-toer, anyhow. I don't put my right heel on the brake and blip the throttle with my toe during downshifts. Instead, I put the ball of my foot on the right edge of the brake pedal and blip the throttle with the outer edge of my foot. In the GTO, that's kinda tough to do, as the brake and accelerator are just too far apart. To get the job done, I have to twist my right foot to about two o'clock and try to bridge the gap. The scary thing is, there've been times when, in trying to simultaneously brake and blip the throttle, my foot actually slipped off the brake. If the two pedals were just a smidgen closer, all would be well.

The seats are great. And for the purpose this car serves, the suspension doesn't need to be any firmer.
 

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6.0 LS1.....I wish they would have put that at the begining of the editorial, so I would have known to stop reading right then and there.

The seats are too soft....come on, I have sat in a few C5's and have thought that our goats seats were better than theirs (not to step on toes, just my opinion). Someone probably should have shown them the lumbar support on the side. :rolleyes:

steering dead spot "Death Valley".....I feel very comfortable with the steering at high speeds. Don't have a clue what they meant there.

Freaking Autoweek, GOSH!
 

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so what is hee-toe shifting. i read about it all the time but never had it explained to me. i can't make sense of it because how could you use your heel? about as close as i can figure, it means to keep the left half of your foot on the brake, and the right half over the accelerator to blip the throttle when you downshift while braking.
 

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I kind of find just the way the engine behaves makes heel and toe-ing a little tough. THe engine isnt as rev-happy as say a bmw engine, so it takes a little more punch on the throttle to rev match. I can still run down the gears easily coming up to a stop, but it definitley isnt as easy. I wish there was a fix for this :(.

Suspension does need help, but nothing a thick sway bar, subframe connectors, koni yellows, and a thick strut bar can't fix...as we have seen in the SCCA :rofl:
 

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Wow...

Seats too soft? Please.....

Brakes not grabby enough? Wow...

I am of exactly the opposite opinion than these two opinions. How in the world can anyone call the brakes on the 2005 not grabby enough? When I bump the brake by accident with my giant feet, I practically lock the wheels.

And, I have never had better, more firm seats.

I agree that the room around the pedals is tight...although I would choose more room between the brake pedal and clutch. I rarely put my foot on the dead pedal so I don't care about more room to the left.

I would also agree with the mushy "dead spot" in the steering when going straight. That being said, once a turn is started, the steering is tight, confident and extremely accurate.

Lastly, I'm sick and tired reading about the styling. Am I the only one who likes having an understated coupe? The concept photos of the next gen goat look waaaayyyy to gaudy for me. I love the sleek look of the Monaro and think the retro look of the concept looks....too loud.
 

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The seats are world class, far better than the C5's, and are not too soft, IMO.

From an '04 perspective, they are right on with the pedals; there should have been a dead pedal and the clutch and brake should have been moved right, allowing heel-toe and avoiding the issue of having one's foot caught behind the clutch (size 12's here).

The suspension is pretty good but could do with a little less body roll and wider rear tires.

I don't know what they are talking about with the steering.
 

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Seats ==> show me something better or even as good for $33K. These seats are very good from bolstering, to shape, firmness/comfort. Now about that seat motor. Save some money and throw in a mechanical ratchet device.

Steering & Suspension ==> Tough one. I'd really like snappier steering and a firmer suspension a la the Z51 option on the Vette. But not if it ruins the daily driver comfort that sold me on this car. I don't want a harsh riding noisy race car. I think GM/Holden did a good job with the suspension choices.

Brakes ==> I haven't driven an 04 but my 05 brakes are powerful, predictable, and they don't fade as much as my Vette did when slowing from triple digit speeds. They do a fine job of converting kinetic energy to heat.

Looks ==> Ya pays your money and ya makes yer choice. I really do like the low profile nature of the car. Actually, GM could go even lower profile and delete the rear wing without offending me. As for that 1999 show car being discussed in another thread, I would be too embarassed to drive anything that remotely resembled that rolling piece of polymer.
 

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Anyone else think Motorweek films its shows on an old VHS Camcorder? I know its PBS but come on! There are camera phones that have better video quality. And whats up with that Gass, or Guss or whatever the hell his name is. Does he actually know anything about cars? I actually fast forward the Tivo through most of his idiotic ramblings about how disc brakes work or "Today in "Guss's garage" we are going to talk about air fresheners". Who is the poor kid with the 3 foot long pony tail that never has any lines, but always gets to show off the power seat mechanisms in every car they test. My favorite was a couple weeks ago they had a Maybach on there. Now this car was in the couple hundred thousand dollar range. It was perfect, they had this kid in there moving the seats back and fourth and pushing buttons. You couldnt have contrasted the car with the person in it any better. They should have hired the "Monopoly-Man" from Ace Ventura Pet Detective to sit in the car and push buttons all the while peering at the driver through his monocle. "I say there, I have a meeting at the club. Lets get underway Belvadiere" Another thing that bothered me was, I pronounce it "May-Bach". Right or wrong thats how its spelled. The host kept calling it "My-Bach", it was like nails on a chalkboard. Anyway, thats my rant. In the words of Chapelle "If you've got hate in your heart.....Let it out"
 

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Wing_Nut said:
As for that 1999 show car being discussed in another thread, I would be too embarassed to drive anything that remotely resembled that rolling piece of polymer.
Amen to that brother...

The GTO concepts I've seen are....fugly imho.

They should bury the GTO name with the last iteration of the car built in the 1970's. The GTO should have been named a G7 or something. It's NOT like a GTO. It's more like an M3 than a GTO imho.

Anyway, I'm glad I got a Monaro while I could. I have been exceedingly pleased with the car. And, judging by the people I see staring my car down on my commute, I know I'm not the only one who think's it's a gorgeous car.
 
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