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Pontiac G5: What Could Have Been?

I have a love for the underdogs — the unloved and largely forgotten cars that litter the landscape of automotive history.

At least that’s the excuse I use for cluttering up the digital pages of Oversteer with a mediocre car like the Pontiac G5.

A moment of honesty: When I first pitched this story, I called it “Pontiac G5: The Forgotten Cobalt,” not thinking about the fact that anyone who has driven a Chevrolet Cobalt would probably like nothing better to forget it completely. See the Pontiac G5 models for sale near you

But the Pontiac G5 does deserve some points for its uniqueness, at least in the United States. Canadians and Mexicans, once again, you are excused from the conversation — if memory serves, your countries were overrun not by the G5 coupes we had here but rather by a sedan version known, in Canada at least, as the G5 Pursuit. A name that implies… what? That the G5 might be the preferred ride of Canadian police, were they not forced by the mindless metric bureaucracy to buy Crown Victorias with twice as much space, power and acceleration?

Anyway, back to the topic of our story: the U.S.-market Pontiac G5, sold exclusively as a 2-door coupe. Now, I’m old enough to remember the Sunbird — a Pontiac version of the Chevy Cavalier that even had its own engine for a while (a Brazilian-sourced 1.8, with and without a turbocharger). In the days when Pontiac sold excitement, the ‘Bird was a hot seller. The similarity of nomenclature to the Firebird no doubt helped its image, though the car was renamed the Sunfire in 1995.

The G5 replaced the Sunfire in 2007, and as I mentioned earlier, it was sold in the U.S. only as a 2-door coupe. I reviewed the more stiffly sprung GT model, and truth be told, it wasn’t a terrible car. It was loaded with equipment and decent to drive. But it was also as anonymous as a paper bag and every bit as thrilling to look at. Furthermore, GM hobbled it. Chevrolet had the brilliant supercharged (and later turbocharged) Cobalt SS model on the market, but even though the G5 was the same car, Pontiac got no equivalent.

And of course, we all know why they might have made that decision. By this time, Pontiac’s doom was sealed. The G5 lasted just three model years, and GM binned the Pontiac brand in 2010. It’s a shame, because had that hot-rod Cobalt been sold as a Pontiac, the car might have gotten some traction. For now, it’s relegated to the role of a curiosity that’s bound to attract attention at car shows in the future. Should you wish to speculate early, you can shop for a G5 on AutotraderFind a Pontiac G5 for sale

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  1. Owned an 07 G(arbage)5 GT.  Bought it NEW.  Very LAST GM car I will ever own.  Never in my LIFE experienced a MANUAL TRANSMISSION FAIL before.. and ad 36K miles no less.  Why?  GERMAN POS GETRAG trans they decided to put in it.  Right about that time GM was in dutch with all their suppliers… they could NOT get the parts… and because I was 1K past the BUMPER TO BUMPER warranty… flat REFUSED to give me a loaner.  All I was left with was my Motorcycle.  At around day 28 of them STILL HAVING THE CAR… I was stopping in EVERY DAY on my way home from work.  One LARGE, ANGRY, LEATHER CLAD BIKER with a VERY BAD attitude.  Only solace?  That dealership folded when Pontiac went down the tubes.  GOOD.  THEY DESERVED IT.

  2. If they put the Cobalt SS engine in there they would have had something. I remember folks were up near 300 whp with just a tune and a couple bolt ons for the turbocharged one.

  3. This was the reason it wasn’t too upsetting Pontiac left us. At least the sunfire was a little unique vs. Cavalier in looks. All this changed were the lights and grill!!!

  4. In Canada we got the Pontiac G5 (Pursuit) as both a sedan and coupe. We also got a version of the Chevrolet Aveo sedan and hatch called the Pontiac G3 (Wave).

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