DETROIT — If the car enthusiasts within General Motors prevail, Pontiac will further expand its lineup of rear-wheel-drive performance vehicles to include a 400-plus-horsepower V8-powered G8 coupe. Just don't call it a GTO.
The coupe, which would be based on the Holden Coupe 60 concept the Australian division unveiled recently at the Melbourne auto show, would arrive in showrooms within three years' time.
Since neither the Firebird nor GTO name will likely to be revived for the Pontiac lineup, the G8 coupe will carry the performance mantle for the brand. To do battle with the big-horsepower Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR, Dodge Challenger SRT8 and the upcoming Camaro SS, Pontiac will have to outfit its coupe with the 402-horsepower LS3 6.2-liter V8 that the company recently introduced at the New York auto show in the G8 GXP sedan.
As seen in these illustrations, the G8 Coupe GXP won't be a true hardtop like the Holden Coupe 60 Concept. Like the Camaro and Challenger it will grow a B-pillar and fixed rear side glass in production trim.
It'll also get the GXP sedan's 19-inch wheels, 245/40ZR19-spec summer tires and a version of the GXP's aggressive front fascia. That rolling gear would be attached to the sedan's stiff FE3 suspension and, like the sedan, the GXP coupe would offer an optional Tremec six-speed manual transmission.
Additionally, the G8 coupe, which has been developed alongside the Camaro, would be offered as the G8 Coupe GT, powered by the same 361-hp 6.0-liter used in the G8 GT sedan. Of course, this all assumes that a faction within General Motors that fears upcoming CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards doesn't quash the project.
"The G8 Coupe is not dead," said one source within the company. "This is an uphill battle. It shouldn't be. But it is." When pressed, our source indicates that the chance of getting the coupe is probably less than 50 percent.
Predictably, Bob Lutz is said to be in the pro-coupe camp. This isn't the first time the two factions have battled over G8 variants.
"The G8 GXP, the G8 sport truck and the G8 wagon were all part of the plan. Then they pulled all three just three or four months ago. It was a classic over-reaction to CAFE. We got the GXP back and, because Lutz is a big fan of the sport truck we got that back, too. But then Dodge killed the Magnum and that was the end of the wagon," our source says.
What this means to you: We don't care if they call it GTO or Firebird or Powder Puff. We still want this Corvette-motored coupe much more than a revival of the el Camino. — Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit