The general, overall impression I'm getting from the G6 after extended driving is that this indeed is a car that can compete with the likes of the Mazda 6. The 6 was one of the first cars I "officially" tested and I was surprised at how fast the manual transmission "6 S" was and how well it handled for an import sedan. The Camry certainly isn't as fun and the Accord, while more powerful in V6 form, is just too ugly for me. But the 6, that was stylish and like the commercials say, fun to drive.
So here comes Pontiac to the game hoping to compete with all those same cars and for the most part it will top them in value with standard V6 for just over $20,000.
But my main complaint is the engine is nowhere near as well tuned, or powerful, as the Mazda 6 or Accord V6. While the manual mode is smooth shifting, especially for an American manufacturer, the standard automatic transmission has a hard time selecting gears when pushed.
On the way to work I was stuck behind a very old man behind the wheel of a very large Cadillac. In Chicago, most streets are two lane affairs with one lane each way with parking allowed on the curb. During rush hour people aren?t allowed to park in the higher traffic areas. That means there is room to pass someone, like my grey haired nemesis, but not by much. My opportunity to pass the guy arrives before parked cars start on the next block. I throw the G6 around to the right lane, punch the accelerator and?whiiiiir?the transmission can not find second gear or third as I floor it. The old guy is literally staring at me like ?what is this whippersnapper doing??
Due to this lackluster attempt I?m stuck at the next light on the stop bar next to this guy. So now I put it into the manual mode and easily fly away from the light and shift smoothly. What we?ve learned is Pontiac needs to work on their engine and transmission combination a bit for even the most average real world acceleration.
Otherwise the car rides great. The suspension is firm enough to feel sporty while absorbing bumpy roads. Turning could be a little tighter. The wheel requires about a half turn too far to get around parking spaces and the wheelbase is actually longer than the Buick LaCrosse I just got of. Go figure. I?m still digging the interior except for the faux wood (carmakers, stop doing this to $20,000 cars) and hard to grasp interior door handles.