Last post on Jul 23, 2010 at 5:36 PM
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Pontiac Bonneville, Sedan
#3488 of 4400 GXP vs. SSEi
Mar 18, 2003 (5:06 pm)
Well I decided I couldn’t wait another year for the GXP, so I took advantage of the great incentives Pontiac was offering in February, sold my ’98 TA to a friend who has been chasing me for it for a couple years now, and I bought a black 2003 SSEi – loaded with all available options except the infamous engine block heater and 12 CD changer.
I haven’t completely given up on the GXP, however. My wife’s 01 GTP lease expires in early 04, and she loves the creature comforts in the SSEi such that she might want the SSEi and agree to my buying a GXP. No promises at this point, just a “maybe” and a “we’ll see.” Although if a GXP retails in the $38-43K range as the GMHTP magazine article indicated, that may be a show stopper for me, especially if the initial demand is high in which case Pontiac won’t be offering many or any incentives on the car. Incentives or not, that would be about a $4-5,000 price hike over the current SSEi. I really don’t know if there is that much more car there.
Actually I am thinking that unless I fall immediately in love with the GXP when they arrive and just can’t live without one, I would probably want to give the GXP some time to “mature” before jumping in. I really want to see one up close and personal, sit in and drive one, see some of them driving around, and maybe let some of you folks be the first GXP owners, talk about what you like, don’t like, etc. That probably means my wife would pop for an ‘04 Grand Prix when her lease is up, which also means I may be a long term SSEi driver whether I like the GXP or not. But I could do a lot worse.
Actually at this point, I have to say that I really have always, and still do, like the aggressive look of the current SSEi with the ribbed cladding and its kind of “in-your-face” front fascia better than the smoothed down “more refined” GXP (which is still cladded). I have never liked the Grand Am cladding – too extreme for my taste – but the SSEi cladding of the 2000+ models has always been attractive to me. I do like the GXP rear fascia a little better than the SSEi, mainly because of the exhaust tip treatment, but I have already replaced the rough cast tips on the SSEI with some Ravin stainless steel oval tips that really stand out. I’m not sure I would like the GXP interior touches (the white-faced gauges, carbon-fibre inserts, all those brushed aluminum trim pieces, two-tone seats with suede inserts (wearability?), etc.). I realize that’s the way the industry is going, but I’m not sure I would like all that better than the more or less understated way the current SSEi interior and instrument panel looks.
The V-8 is what primarily attracted me to the GXP in the first place since I am a GM V-8 guy from way back, but as those of you who have one know, the L67 V-6 is no slouch with its abundance of low end torque. I’m thinking while the V-8 will have around 20% more horsepower, but with maybe only 10 or so more lb ft of torque, and then most likely higher up on the power curve, I’m wondering if I really need it over what the L67 offers. I’m thinking probably not. It would just be a bragging rights thing for me to be driving a V-8 since I don’t street race or take my cars to the drag races anymore. Then there will also obviously be a little decreased gas mileage with the V-8 and the heavier car. And I’m already liking the big gas mileage advantage of the SSEi over my Trans Am.
The 18” GXP wheels don’t excite me that much, either. They look very nice, no argument about that, but I’ve had plus-sized and low profile wheels and tires on my TA’s, and the noticeably harsher ride has not excited me (or my wife). I have already replaced the stock wheels on the SSEi with 17” GXP wheels. They look great and of course the ride and handling are the same as stock.
I’ve always liked the V-8 exhaust note of my cars, but one of my Trans Ams was the ’89 V-6 20th Anniversary Turbo TA (talk about torque: 345 2400), and it had a really mean sounding engine “growl.” The Bonneville’s L67 engine sound when pushed reminds me some of the Turbo TA, so I can live without the V-8 burble of the GXP.
Maybe this is all just a sign that I’m getting older and don’t feel the need to blow the doors off of everything out there like I used to. Now if I was 20 years younger, I might be thinking a little differently about the GXP at this point. I guess I just need to let some things play out over the next year. Meanwhile I sure do like this SSEi!
Mar 18, 2003 (5:32 pm)
Should have got the block heater! After a few simple engine mods (pulley, thermostat, K&N) I belive the SSEi might just out run the v-8. I will drive a new GXP, but if it does not light up the front end like 2 weber kettles in the wheel wells, I'm not seeing that much more car either.
Mar 19, 2003 (6:51 am)
What? No block heater? Egads, your new ride sounds great but did you really have to compromise that much that you would do without a block heater?
BTW, I officiallly declared winter over last week when I tucked the plug for my heater back inside the engine compartment.
Mar 19, 2003 (10:29 am)
My sentiments exactly. I'm most interested in the GXP for the V-8. The rest of the package doesn't do anything more for me than the SSEi, and I agree that there may not be a justification to spend $3-5 grand more for it. If the rumor that the SSEi will be discontinued is true, though, I wonder how Pontiac will fill the price gap between the SLE and GXP, if indeed it goes for about $40K. Maybe a supercharged option for the SLE? In any event, you may not want to wait around too long after the GXP comes out because the future of the Bonneville is in doubt. By the way, we can only hope that demand for the GXP is high -- that would be good news.
Enjoy that new SSEi, and post some photos if you can!
Mar 19, 2003 (11:22 am)
bunky36: "I’ve always liked the V-8 exhaust note of my cars, but one of my Trans Ams was the ’89 V-6 20th Anniversary Turbo TA (talk about torque: 345 2400), and it had a really mean sounding engine “growl.” The Bonneville’s L67 engine sound when pushed reminds me some of the Turbo TA, so I can live without the V-8 burble of the GXP."
You lucky guy. I think the 89 Turbo T/A is one of the coolest cars around. And they were wickedly fast. I think you will find the biggest difference with the premium V8 is in refinement, though also somewhat in upper-end power. The S/C 3800 in the SSEi is certainly the better engine for hot-rodding and such. You can easily make the 3800 faster than you could make the 4.4 V8. In that sense, the Premuim V8 is a big downgrade.
If you want a teaser of the possible sound of the Premium V8 with a Corsa system, take a look at these clips I made. The sweetest one is the "Go" one. If you only want to hear one, that's the one.
Also, congrats on the purchase. The SSEi is a lot of car for the money.
#3493 of 4400 Chat tonight!
Mar 19, 2003 (4:31 pm)
Join us tonight, 6-7pm PT/9-10pm ET for another
round of automotive trivia and member-to-member chat.
Test your skills (or multiple choice guessing ability)
against other Town Hall members.
Hope to see you there!
Mar 19, 2003 (11:08 pm)
checked out SSEi at auto show.....are they putting the Aurora seats in the Bonneville now? They looked like dead ringers for the Aurora seats. They were actually a nice simple, restrained design which I haven't seen used in a Pontiac.
#3495 of 4400 Photos and Sounds
Mar 20, 2003 (6:34 am)
mlm4: The weather here in Kansas is pretty crappy right now. It's supposed to get better this weekend. If there's some sun, I'll take some photos and will post them next week.
rjs200240: Great clips! There's just nothing like that V8 sound. You are right about the Turbo TA. That car was an animal. I kept it for 3 years but sold it because my wife was afraid I would kill myself in it. With a car like that it was too tempting not to street race every now and then.
regfootball: I'm not sure what the Aurora seats look like. I do know that the leather seats in this SSEi are new for 2003. They have gone away from the "catcher's mitt" style except for the cloth seats. All I know is they sure are comfortable. The side bolsters are not as big as the ones in my TA were, but then this is supposed to be a family sedan, not a hot rod.
Mar 21, 2003 (12:18 am)
go check out 2001-3 aurora pics and 2003 bonneville pics and let me know what you think.
Mar 21, 2003 (6:30 am)
I looked at the 360 interior views of the Aurora and Bonneville on the Oldsmobile and Pontiac websites. The seats look identical to me.