Last post on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:56 PM
You are in the Pontiac Grand Prix
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Pontiac Grand Prix, Sedan
#1746 of 4457 '04 test drive
Mar 23, 2003 (11:17 am)
I attended a GP drive event held yesterday morning at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Again, I apologize for not posting that it was going to be happening – but my excuse is that the person I pre-registered with at the Pontiac toll free number told me that an information packet would be sent and would arrive well before the event. So – I was going to post information once I received that – so that others in this area could attend if they wanted. And – as of yesterday’s mail, it still has not come ?????
Anyway – on to the car. They had 1 car to display and Craig Singhaus (of Motorweek) gave a marketing pitch. I was able to crawl in and around it for a while.
Then on to the 4 cars and a low speed ‘handling’ course. I believe that these were all early production cars – as opposed to specially assembled one. All were GTPs with the Comp. Group / WS6, moonroof, and leather.
We were allowed 3 circuits – there was no place to exceed maybe 40 mph without mowing down a BUNCH of cones. I chose not do risk that. We had to wear helmets – affecting the ability to judge NVH.
Power – Good power at these low speeds. Very smooth. Very easy to smoke the front tires at launch – over half those I observed driving did so – some quite dramatically, given the tight course. (This is with the standard traction control on - interesting.) Further, I expect that the 3.29 final drive comes into effect here. I believe this may lead to variation in published 0-60 and SS ¼ mile times depending on the level of expertise of the driver in launching high torque FWD automobiles . . . The Motorweek “road test” (update of the preview that aired a while ago) quoted the GM 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, but made no mention of further performance numbers – no quarter mile time / speed.
[Possible S/C pulley swap? Looks like the same basic set-up as ’97 – ’03. Meaning a quick, easy, cheap 20 – 30 hp increase will likely be available for those willing to risk possible drivetrain warrantee issues.)
Trans. – As has been confirmed, the TAP paddles upshifts by pressing either paddle forward. In ‘(M) manual’ mode, you can start in either 1st or 2nd gear? Smooth shifts. TAP paddle positions swung beyond the noon / 6 positions in this tight course – and they were ‘in motion’ during much of the run. Thus, I will need more seat time to judge some aspects of their use. [Sadly, the GP is not a Grand Prix car – where full lock is typically not much more than 90 degrees!] The fact that the TAP allows a forced upshift at WOT at less than red line is a plus compared to BMW’s Steptronic, for instance.
Ride – no real opportunity to judge – see below under noise.
Handling – Overall: Responsive. ‘Rotates’ well. 225/55 BF Goodridge Comp T/As howled under high load – but hard to tell how they would sound under normal (umm . . ) “brisk” street driving. Again, further, real world test drives will certainly be required.
Steering – Again: responsive. Good feel, given conditions.
Overall, the interior impressed me with a good overall presentation, logical and clear control and display placement, excellent legibility, and very good quality of materials. The climate control offers flexibility – 2 intermediate positions on the rotary knob between each of the 5 primary / main Mode settings – for fine tuning. A good design.
DIC: much improved in display and flexibility / functionality from the one in my ‘97. Several personalized settings possible. Trans. temp can be displayed, for instance.
?? “18 HUD functions?” I see 17 listed in the “Getting to know your 2004 GP” guide (from page 12) = Vehicle speed, high beams, turn signals, 8-position compass, secondary PRNDL, outside air temp., TAP up/down gear position & Upshift ISO, Radio station frequency. Single CD: track number, Multiple CD: disc number and track number, Cassette Active, Check trip computer, Cruise Set, Traction Control active, Traction control off, Stability control active, and Stability control off.
Front seat - fine (though understandably a bit tight with a helmet on).
Rear seat – sitting behind myself (6’0” and about 225) there was probably only reasonable room for someone 5’6” and 175. And toe space was very tight, as I typically drive with the seat lowered as far as possible. OTOH, I could probably have adjusted the driver’s seat somewhat to provide a bit more room, if necessary. And again, all cars I examined had the optional moonroof and a possible impact on headroom. The fold flat forward passenger front seat, that produces a sort of desk – including the mesh / netting found on the seat back as a mechinism to hold the things I often just toss into the passenger seat, is quite an interesting and useful feature.
Front seat excellent – bolsters felt more supportive than in some other cars that look like they ought to be . . .
Rear seat – probably OK for people of, say, 5’ 6” to 5’ 9” tall - though a fold down armrest would certainly be useful – and this seems rather an odd omission.
The traction control can be turned off – and so can the Stability system – according to the information I see. But there have been instances (the new G35, for example) where the traction control system cannot actually be completely disabled.
Noise – Again, NVH very hard to judge given course and helmet. No visible or audible problems with the section of the course that including several tacked down tire tread ‘bumps’. Structural integrity seemed ok – particularly given the huge hole you can open between the trunk and interior.
Styling – Well, this is clearly VERY subjective, I acknowledge. But now that I have spent a while around several of these new cars, here is my reaction. This is an attractive car. The lager rear spoiler as well as the quad round exhaust tips and the grill inserts available as RPA-s all further enhance the appearance, in my view. The red painted calipers look terrific through the wheel spokes – but may be a cleaning nightmare.
But then, I’d probably replace the exhaust with a Borla, Corsa or Magnaflow a.s.a.p. anyway . . .
It was certainly great fun to toss these cars around with someone else responsible for replacing the tires! BTW: I checked 2 of the front left tires (clockwise circuit) for wear – and they looked to be holding up rather well to the abuse.
The new GP is clearly a large step forward. Though I’d love to see 300 + HP and TQ, a six speed trans. and AWD, I suppose that is not likely now anytime soon. They have addressed several of the reasons that I did not buy a new GP when the time came to trade my ’97 GTP. I will drive one or 2 when the time comes to trade.
If anyone has further questions, post and I’ll try to answer – but it also sounds like new GPs are hitting some dealers.
Who probably made a mistake by taking a ride in a NASCAR stocker at over 165 mph
Mar 23, 2003 (5:23 pm)
As orwoody alluded to, swapping stock GTP rims for the Comp-G rims would appeal to me. If I decide to get the Grand Prix, I'll probably have to order it (and wait 8 weeks) to take advantage of GMS pricing that's available to me.
Out of curiosity, is there anyone in the Chicago area who is getting the 2004 GTP-Comp-G in the next couple of months and would be intested in swapping their Comp-G rims for my 5 spoke GTP rims?
Mar 23, 2003 (7:53 pm)
Went to the local lot and they had 1 base GT on the lot with a sold sign in the window. I was shocked to see steel rims with plastic covers on the the car. It's sad to see a "GT" model with SE wheels on it, what is Pontiac thinking here? Otherwise the car looked great, it was a dark green color. Build quality looked very good on this production model.
Mar 24, 2003 (2:58 am)
Pontiac is thinking that the GT1 IS in reality the old SE. There is no SE anymore, but there are now THREE, arguably FOUR levels of GPness: officially GT1, GT2, GTP, Then, the competition package available on the GTP in effect makes the car an utterly different beast, so some will see that as a whole nother model still, though GM does not.
Of course, if you Canadians lucked out and got better trim packages than the US (like, say, on the Mazda6), then none of this applies to you.
Mar 24, 2003 (6:29 am)
A car in this price range should have standard alloy wheels. Just my opinion, I understand what you are saying. Even our old SE had alloys though and I thought the only GPs that didn't were the ones that went to rental agencies.
#1752 of 4457 Edmunds review
Mar 25, 2003 (1:54 pm)
When '97 GP first came out, Edmunds also loved it in their first review. Then the trashed it in a subsequent review.
#1753 of 4457 Edmunds Review
Mar 25, 2003 (7:19 pm)
Intrigue was the same way... Different reviewers later in its life trashed it after it got the 3.5L motor and later, minivan struts sometime in 2K.
Mar 25, 2003 (8:32 pm)
Take what you can get. So far, every review I've seen has been good on the GP so perhaps there is some truth to it all. I will have to test one out myself sometime this spring.
Mar 25, 2003 (9:40 pm)
Car and Driver did a review for their April edition. Typically C&D has been pretty hard on Pontiac and GM but this article was almost positive.
An interesting observation - all the photos in the various articles seem to be the same car - I noticed the interior color is a gray/taupe whereas per the Pontiac brochure the only interior colors are dark pewter or Parchment... hmmm