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Click above for high-res gallery of the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT

After our sampling of General Motors' rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform in the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT, we must admit that we're smitten with the platform. Its future in GM's North America car lineup, however, remains in question thanks to stricter CAFE standards that start going into effect by 2011. While the G8, G8 Sport Truck (actual name still pending) and Camaro are all guaranteed a spot on the Zeta platform, other vehicles like large RWD sedans for Chevy and Buick are likely dead in the water, according to Motor Trend. Hopes for a RWD Impala are all but gone thanks to strong sales of the current front-wheel-drive model, which continue despite the success of the now similarly sized Malibu.

Motor Trend also notes that GM plans to merge its current Sigma RWD platform with the Zeta around 2011. At that time, the Zeta/Sigma platform will be built in three sizes – coupe, midsize with 114.8-inch wheelbase and large with 118.5-inch wheelbase – and offer a premium version of each with forged aluminum suspension components. See the list below for a breakdown of how MT thinks things will look by 2011.

Zeta/Sigma variants:

  • Coupe – Camaro, maybe Holden Monaro and Pontiac G8 Coupe
  • Coupe Premium – Cadillac CTS Coupe
  • Midsize – Pontiac G8 and Holden Monaro, maybe Chevy sedan (not Impala)
  • Midsize Premium – Cadillac CTS Sedan
  • Large – Holden Statesmen/Buick Park Avenue (China), Holden Ute/Pontiac GT ST, maybe Buick Lucerne replacement
  • Large Premium – Cadillac STS/DTS replacement
Finally, MT also speculates that GM is working on a small rear-drive platform for Cadillac in Europe. The resulting 3-Series fighter would give Caddy more cachet in the old country, though MT does not specify is this would be an all-new platform or a larger variant of the Kappa platform that underpins the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.

[Source: Motor Trend]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      What I don't understand is why GM can't come up with motors to be efficient and can be rwd at the same time? GM just seems to me to be taking the cheap way out. I really can't see a RWD getting such a huge difference in gas mileage compared to the fwd. In my mind I would think pulling a car would use more fuel than pushing a car, but I am no physicists.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ok, so a RWD sedan _and_ the Impala? I mean, one or the other I can understand, but both?

      Look, it's simple: just leave the decontented Sigma/Zeta to Pontiac. Chevy gets to be front-drive mainstream; Pontiac the low-price sports option. Please, GM, if you want to be financially viable, this stupid intracompany cannibalization has to stop.
        • 7 Years Ago
        that plan makes so much sense.

        Chevy - FF Normal/Mainstream
        Buick - FF Premium
        Pontiac - FR Cheap Sporty
        Caddy - FR Premium Sporty
        Saturn - Faux Euro styling (mix of FF/FR)
        Saab - Faux Euro Premium

        IE: Pontiac and Caddy (and maybe some Saturns) should be the sole owners of the Kappa, Zeta and Sigma platforms.

        This makes it easy to figure out which brand to go to get the kind of car you want.

        GM loves milking a platform all over the place, tho, so, *shrug* I do like the simplification of the platforms that they seem to be planning, though. It's a start of sorts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've seen what the next Impala looks like and can confirm Motor Trend is correct, it is sadly FWD. It also looks like a cross between a Holden and the new Malibu, not exactly ground-breaking or distinctive. It will disappoint classic Impala fans and won't give fans of American RWD a reason to defect from the 300C or Charger.

      If GM didn't have so many brands selling so many trucks, SUVs and crossovers CAFE and producing a real Impala wouldn't be an issue.

      But GM decided it's more important to rebadge a 16MPG crossover four times to compete with itself in the market instead.

      The sooner GM gets serious about it's marketshare, it's company structure and takes radical action to fix it the better off the company will be. Or it will be in C11, it's inevitable.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So the RWD El Camino is a go but no proper Impala. Maybe GM is trying to lose money on purpose?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Fuel sipping 3.9L?

        • 7 Years Ago
        Did you not read that the Impala is still posting STRONG sales? I too would have liked to see the RWD Impala. You can thank CAFE to that end.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ok, ok, _relatively_ fuel sipping. I eat my words
      • 7 Years Ago
      I hope the Pontiac G8 coupe will be called the Firebird. The V8s will have to be called the Trans Am.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Idiocy on GM's part.

      To those who complain that RWD is too "inefficient" in light of stringent CAFE standards, I would ask you: will GM therefore discontinue automatic transmissions?

      A torque converter is a much bigger efficiency hit than RWD.
      • 7 Years Ago
      why does everyone associate RWD with poor fuel economy? The Germans seem to be able to balance a well tuned chassis with good fuel economy look at the 3 series diesel or the bigger merc diesels....
        • 7 Years Ago
        Which makes me wonder how a G8 w/ the new 4.5L TD would do...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Man, GM is stubborn. They plan on releasing a new El Camino, but by god, it will not be an El Camino, because they want to force it into the Pontiac lineup.

      Now, they are planning to kill a car that many were looking forward to, even though the Malibu is already filling the role of the Impala.. unless, of course, the Impala gets even bigger, which would totally destroy their CAFE excuse.

      Honestly, if they are concerned about CAFE, kill the Camaro, and release a RWD car with some utility (like a real back seat), and a manual transmission for less than $30K.

      I would go for the old "they know what they are doing" reasoning, except their past track record has proven just the opposite in many cases.

      In truth, I like the current Impala, but I was really looking forward to them bringing something like the current Caprice here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2006_Holden_WM_Caprice_03.jpg
      • 7 Years Ago
      I know I'm like the turbo 4 broken record but is there a compelling reason why the 260 hp turbo 4 from the Cobalt isn't the standard engine in the G8 with a 6 speed stick? They aren't far from 300 hp now and with minor upgrades I don't see why 280-300 isn't a possiblity and the motor would lighten the car, leave it less nose heavy, and save on fuel. I would prefer that to the 6 cylinder anyday.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Impala should be on the Zeta RWD Platform in my opinion. Look at this rendering of the Impala. The next gen should look like this:


      Or at least make it rwd....
      • 7 Years Ago
      im new here..where do u get the cool icons!
      • 7 Years Ago
      How does CAFE stop a company from making RWD cars?
      I could have sworn I read that it's a myth and I think I read it here.
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