Pontiac Sedan versus the BMW 5-Series: An Unlikely Fight

5-series | April 29th, 2008 by 26

When I think American versus German, I usually ponder the essence of a V8 Corvette Z06 racing down a back road, hot on the heels …

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When I think American versus German, I usually ponder the essence of a V8 Corvette Z06 racing down a back road, hot on the heels of a Porsche 911 GT3. Or I think of a Corvette in a dead heat with an E92 M3, going from straight to straight and both breaking their rear-ends out through each hard turn. But that is sports cars. These days, there is a whole other type of back road racing going on.

Pontiac has recently brought on the market their G8 GT with 361hp and 385lb-ft of torque coming from a 6.0L V8. They reckon their car is better than the BMW 5-series for less money. I’m sure you have seen the current advertisement for the new G8 versus the BMW 5er. But is it really the car that they say it is? Well, let’s look at the facts.

The G8 GT is a true muscle car with 4-doors. It will haul itself to 60 in just 5.3s and while still weighing in at a rather robust 3995lbs. That alone is an amazing accomplishment. And, where the BMW 5-Series is amazing in its pursuit of perfection for the dollar, the G8 tries to be just as good for under $30,000. Not bad I would say for a big heavy American car.

Finally, Pontiac have made themselves a great blend of performance with function before form. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that this one is rear-wheel drive. This is a first for Pontiac in a long time. The Grand Prix is a front-wheel drive, and pretty much every car since the original GTO has been front-wheel drive as well. In fact, the only car that Pontiac currently makes with rear-wheel drive is the Solstice. So, this than, is a great achievement for them.

The BMW 535i and 550i are both extremely nice and fast sport luxury cars. The BMW 550i makes due with a rather small 4.8L V8 making 360hp and 360lb-ft of torque, while the 535i makes 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque from its 335i derived twin-turbo I-6. The 550 tips the scales at 3968lbs in automatic form, with the 535 weighing a lot less at 3703lbs in auto trim as well.

Where the G8 may be fast for its size and rather comfortable, the BMW 5-Series is the top of the line. So while Pontiac may think it’s doing its new car justice by attacking “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” they may actually be hurting themselves. See, not many cars try and question the reign of the BMW’s, at least not until recently. The Cadillac CTS has been trying to challenge the BMW 5er’s as well lately. The automotive magazines have not fed into this, as they still test it against the BMW 3-Series.

Let us also remember that Car and Driver tested the BMW 550i back in 2007, and came up with a 5.2s 0-60 time. This is not even the current 2008 550i that has a revised sport suspension and much quicker reacting automatic gearbox, along with much more beautifully sculpted lines. Car and Driver also believes that the new 535i will hit 60 in 5.2s as well, since the 535xi that they last tested did it in 5.4s.

Let’s talk quick horsepower and performance numbers here between the 535i and the G8 GT real quick. The 535’s twin-turbo inline-6 makes 300hp at 5800 rpm and 300lb-ft of torque from 1400-5000 rpm. This is in comparison to the G8 GT that makes 361hp at 5300 rpm and 385lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. So the BMW makes 61 less peak power 300 rpm later, and 85 less peak torque all over the range. The 550i is still even more confusing when it makes 360hp at 6300 rpm and 360lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm, and still manages to be faster. Confusing stuff.

Still though, you can’t count the G8 out. At least it is trying to hold its own. But, its own isn’t much match for two BMW’s that perform almost identical to one another. I prefer the BMW 5-Series all day long. I personally haven’t driven the G8 GT yet, and I plan to soon, I still think the 5 is a totally different car, for a totally different customer. BMW is just ahead of the competition, especially when they competition is still trying to be as good as BMW’s that are 10 years old. But, it is ultimately up to you guys to decide. BMW 535/550i versus the Pontiac G8 GT muscle saloon. Which one would you rather have?

Article by Josh from RawAutos.com

Comparison Photos 

Pontiac G8BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 SeriesPontiac G8

Pontiac G8BMW 5 Series

26 responses to “Pontiac Sedan versus the BMW 5-Series: An Unlikely Fight”

  1. JRC says:

    I think you shouldn’t make any judgements until you drive both. I own 3 current BMW’s, test drove the G8, and came away VERY impressed. I don’t know if I’d buy one but I could have two for the price of my 550.

  2. RawAutos says:


    This is true… I actually can’t wait to drive it. You say you could have two for the price of 1 550i… Did you drive the G8 or G8 GT?

    After currently owning three BMW’s and driving the new G8, which would you rather have?

  3. Mark says:

    I still say let’s see which of the two retains most of its value after, say, one year…then two years and then three….pretty tough when Pontiac cars loose roughly 50% of their value when they drive off of the lot….

    That aside, I wonder of Pontiac has finally learned to out a decent interior in their cars?? NOT plastic and vinyl and chrome….


  4. rupinder singh says:

    i think BMW is a best brand,evokes envy yill u own one

  5. Sam says:

    You forgot that Pontiac made the GTO (0-60 4.7-4.8 seconds, 1/4 in 13 flat) which is a RWD vehicle and it was/is faster then both the 5 series sedans listed. It may have 2 doors, but the Monaro it was based on came with 4 doors and the 5 series was its competitor overseas. Where you need to compare the different engines is passing speeds on the highway, not 0-60. Thats where the beautifully simple and reliable LS series motors shine. The o-60 numbers dont tell the whole acceleration story and thats why your comparison on engine numbers is flawed. After 60 mph, the G8 will pull away hard because its torque never really deviates much across the band, and its hindered in 0-60 by its inability to put all the power down into forward movement. If you noticed the 0-60 of the two BMW sedans are almost equal despite the 60hp difference which has alot to do with traction–run them both out from 50mph to 100+ and you will see why they bother making the V8 and assuredly, the G8 will cover that ground faster.

    The Pontiacs are not BMWs. Pontiac cant match their overall quality evoke the same level of class all for $30k, but if it cost more, people would buy the name brand just because its a known entity. I really cant make a case where the G8=550 sedan for $30k less, but it is a great option for those that dont have the money but still want to be able to beat the richer guy next to him to the next light. He might have to just settle for less supple leather or a sound system thats not as brilliant or maybe a little more road noise

  6. tassandre says:


    • jcarter says:

      the G8 / GT is not an American car. it’s suspension was crafted in Germany. The car itself is actually an australian import. It’s cousin manufactured in Adelaide Australia is manufactured by a company called Holden. Down under it’s known as a ‘Commodore”

  7. Horatiu B. says:

    @tassandre: I think the comparison was based on a video ad that was trying to mock the BMW 5 Series and promote the Pontiac

  8. RIX535i says:

    This is not an American Car!
    It is a re-badged Holden Commodore VE, made in Australia,

    For the record Holden tried a ‘Better than a Five’ type ad campaign when the VE was first released….

  9. mel says:

    I just took delivery of a new 2008 G8-GT in Panther Black Metallic. The car is equipped with the premium package which gives you the upgraded leather interior.

    Let me say this: I have never had the pleasure of owning a BMW, but after owning several Corvettes, Cobras and performance cars, I was VERY inpressed with the G8-GT. The combination of ride, handling and power of this 4 door sedan can only be appreciated after a test drive. I make this statement as I currently own 2 other high performance cars – a Viper and a Shelby SC Cobra with 550+ HP.

    You owe it to yourself to test drive one of these G8-GT’s……granted, although the BMW may possess more luxury and status, the G8-GT is half the price. You can certainly think of many other ways to spend the extra 30+k.

  10. Artmic says:

    hmmm looking at both those cars above, i dislike the look of both, they are plain ugly cars.

    The old 5 was awesome looking, the current 5 looks like any other car in my opinion. I hope they re-design the 5 soon, i would never want a 5 looking the way it does now.

  11. 08Z06Owner says:

    After living in Germany 12+ years, and owning a few BMWs during that time (with subsequent ability to use my BMWs at autobahn speeds), I have always been impressed with BMW capabilities. I even own an M5 now, too, along with an ’08 Z06. Great cars!

    However, what is odd is the cache effect of BMW on certain American BMW owners, and snobbery that comes with it. I didn’t know any Germans who had the BMW snobbery effect, and they make them!

    I test drove a 2009 G8 GT, and ended up buying one. Great car at a great price, no snobbery required.

  12. DanR says:

    I think we’re all forgetting something. The bottom line is everything comes down to cost and pride. When BMW can sell their cars for under 30k then this becomes a proper competition. There’s no doubt BMW has the fit and finish, rich history and high resale – but look at those two interiors! For the first time i’ve noticed the BMW looks like its stuck pre-millenium. And the 5-series has only become uglier after since it changed after 2002. Good quality and slightly, maybe, better performance for way to much money and boring looking pile of metal.

  13. radman says:

    Let’s be precise: the G8 is not an American design. It is a Holden Commodore, designed and built in Australia. Therefore there is nothing American about it, except for Holden’s affiliation with GM. And because it not designed in Detroit, it has a chance of being a good car.

    I have driven a V8 Commodore in Perth. I have not driven the current generation M5 (have driven an E38 M5), but I have driven countless 5-series (530d, 525d, 523, 535d) in Germany. The Commodore is not bad at all!

  14. JonW says:

    The comments above about BMW retaining more value than the Pontiac is moot. I am a licensed auto dealer in the state of Texas. The current wholesale auction price for a 2007 BMW 550i with 35k miles is approximately 34k dollars. This is for a loaded vehicle with navigation and sport package. These cars sell for close to 80k when new with the same options. I have the luxury of driving many different vehicles, generally German, but I can say with authority that there is no better bang for your dollar than a Pontiac G8 GT. The engine is proven (been around for years), and the car is quite simple in comparisson to the 5 series (no iDrive, etc…).

    So, you can buy a used 2007 550i on a lot for roughly 38k with 10k left on the warranty, OR you can buy a brand new G8 that drives about 9/10ths for 30k out the door. Factor in the 3/36 bumper to bumper and 5/60 powertrain, and the choice is simple. I love BMWs, always have, always will, but my daily driver by choice is the G8.

  15. radman says:

    Really??? I can get a 2 year old 550i for only 34K? Wow. What is the depreciation on a 2006 or 2007 M5?

  16. 2003m3 says:

    Considering that GM is in Chapter 11 and that Pontiac is getting the axe, do you really want to buy a car from them? Pontiac dealerships are going to disappear, so the much praised 3-year warranty may not be worth the paper it is written on. Moreover, what if GM creditors force it to liquidate altogether and it never emerges from bankruptcy? Who will make and sell spare parts for this thing?

  17. BMWho says:

    2003m3…The Chevy/GMC dealers will hnor the warranty. All parts will still be available for the G8. Other than the Vette, G8 is hands down best GM car ever built.

  18. 2003m3 says:

    “Chevy/GMC dealers will honor the warranty” only if GM emerges from bankruptcy. That outcome is likely, but not certain. Should GM be forced to liquidate, it would not emerge from bankruptcy at all. No more GM dealerships of any kind anywhere. If I were in the market for a GM vehicle, other than Saab or Opel that have found buyers, I would definitely wait until the final outcome of GM’s bankruptcy is clear.

    Australia’s Holden will go on as well and this car will continue to be manufactured. I reiterate – this is not a Pontiac design at all. This is a rebadged Holden Commodore V8. Great car, I agree, just not an American car… :)

  19. Anonymous says:

    I like my 530i sorry pontiac people im not impressed and if a g8 pulls beside me going 70 i will floor it not scared of the G8

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. bai_hui says:

    how about now you guys. how about now? i have owned the g8 gt for 4 years it has a over 120k on the clock and is rock solid. car is still a breeze to maintain and extremely tough. i wanna see your bmw’s bills for repairs and etc. for about 4 grand and simple bolt ons this car can destroy anything but the m5 which is still 1/3 of the price. and now with pontiac gone this car might actually hold value. BMW and all germans is nothing but an iphone. designed for people that want the best and they dont care that every other snob has the same. it has been years since i actually saw a properly tunned bmer. they are the ultimate driving machine but at what price. i have had an opportunity to buy more expensive cars tru the years and i have driven friends and families expensive german cars. you have to be stupid not to get a car at a half price with performance that can make you smile. but after all people are all different. i want to actually hear the exhaust not to get it amplified tru the speakers. just that kind of guy. i own a pontiac /holden and it is a damn good car for the money……spend some more on it and it will be even better. BTW the guy that wrote the artical is a complete moron!

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