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It's bon voyage for Pontiac's version of the Commodore

Pontiac's new rear-wheel drive large car has hit the high seas, ahead of a first quarter 2008 release in the US.

Based on Holden's VE Commodore and built at the Elizabeth plant (more here), the G8 is initially available in two levels of trim and with two engines: the 3.6-litre V6 and a 6.0-litre V8 running in what GM calls 'Active Fuel Management' mode, allowing the engine to operate on just four cylinders for improved fuel economy.

According to Holden's MD, Chris Gubbey (pictured): "We're now actively looking at the opportunity to introduce that [AFM] into Australia."

That news is not so startling, since the VE Commodore Sportwagon concept at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney blatantly wore the 'AFM' legend on the V8 engine fitted (more here).

Initially at least, the G8 will be sold in America without a manual option.

From 2004 to 2006 the majority of sales for the Pontiac GTO -- a Holden Monaro facelifted and badged as a Pontiac -- were manual variants, so the precedent is there for the G8 to sell in relatively large numbers with manual transmission, but Gubbey says: "There are no particular issues there. We had, in terms of the requirements for North America, a particular spec that we are focussing on -- which is the higher-end spec -- and there's no necessary limit to getting what they need over in North America..."

But: "[Manuals] are not in the initial spec."

With the introduction of the G8, Pontiac is the first GM division in the US to place a 'Zeta' platform car on sale, pre-empting the Chevrolet Camaro by at least twelve months. The G8 is expected to replace Pontiac's FWD Grand Prix (pictured), which has traditionally sold in large volumes to fleet buyers. There'll be no such volume marketing for the G8, which will be positioned higher than the Grand Prix.

With production of the G8 commencing at the Elizabeth plant, Holden's local manufacturing is now effectively dedicated in equal parts to export and domestic consumption. Pontiac is the fourth brand to 'buy' cars from the Elizabeth factory, with a fifth (GM-Daewoo) anticipating production of the Statesman-based L4X some time next year.
First G8 shipment leaves for the US December 2007 Car Review - CarPoint Australia
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