With this much horsepower and torque going through the front wheels of the Grand Prix GXP, is there any way that Pontiac could control torque steer? They did a pretty good job. With traction control active, the tires eagerly chirp, soon to be controlled by the electronic nannies keeping the steering wheel from jerking in your hands. Without traction control, a little pulling is evident, though chances are, unless your dragging from stoplight to stoplight, the traction control will be on.
The GXP handles well for a big front-drive sedan. Nothing to take to your SCCA event, but that?s not the purpose of the GP. The GXP is for people who miss the V-8 sound and gobs of torque that a V-6 couldn?t give. The 3.8-liter supercharged engine offered in the GTP has a lot of torque for a V-6, but the 5.3-liter V-8 sounds better and performs better. GM quotes the GXP?s 0-60 times at under 6 seconds, and with a ton of low end torque, it definitely feels quick.
The Displacement on Demand (DOD) technology, which shuts off four cylinders when the engine controller determines a ?light use? situation, never makes you aware that it is happening. The DOD lets the 43 more hp and 43 more lb-ft 5.3-liter V-8 get almost the same rated fuel economy as the 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 (18/27 vs. 18/28).
The cross-drilled rotors (12.7-inch in the front, 12-inch in the rear) with red painted calipers not only look good tucked in behind the 18-inch forged wheels, but also do a heck of a job instilling confidence when the brakes are applied. The braking system is a four-channel Bosch ABS package to keep the car under control during hard braking. Front tires are about 1-inch wider than the rears (10-inches in front, 9-inches rear) to compensate for the heavier engine and more power.
The TAPShift responded well to the shifting requests and paired with the Heads-Up Display gear reminders, easy to know exactly what gear you?re in. There is no option to shift with the gear selector, just with the two steering wheel-mounted levers. Each lever allows you to upshift (tap away from you) and downshift (tap towards you) so no matter what hand you use on the steering wheel, you will have control. The amount of useable power doesn?t make this car scream for a 5 or 6 speed automatic, but it sure wouldn?t be bad for fuel economy numbers. The GXP also is equipped with Bilstein gas-charged struts and higher-rate springs to help boost the cornering numbers to 0.87 G?s compared with the GTP Comp G?s 0.83 G?s.
Outside, the GXP gets a whole new font fascia with larger grille openings and smaller fog lights, rocker panel extensions and new rear bumper with quad chrome tailpipes. The rear is where the Grand Prix styling gets a little quirky. As some angles it looks ?off?. Kind of hard to explain. The fender-mounted heat extractor vents are another nod to the second generation Firebirds. I think the color really sets this car off; the Dark Cherry Metallic looks very deep in the natural light.
The GXP was a big, comfortable, fun to drive sedan for anyone not looking for a ?corner-carver? sports car with two extra doors, but more of a musclecar feel with power at the ?wrong? wheels. The exhaust note and V-8 under hood expresses this car?s real intentions: To give V-8 lovers a FWD alternative to Chrysler?s Hemi-powered sedans.