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