- Helping you drive happy

Interview with John P. Larson, General Manager Buick-Pontiac-GMC

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Mathieu St-Pierre
Pontiac Driving Excitement is back with the new 2008 G8.
Pontiac Driving Excitement is back with the new 2008 G8.

John P. Larson, General Manager Buick-Pontiac-GMC
McCormick Place, Chicago -
Mr Larson, like a number of GM employees involved in new products, is in a very good mood. Long before we got a glimpse of the new G8, he had already not only seen the car but he had driven it at length. He was ready and willing to meet a small group of Canadian journalists and answer our questions pertaining to the brand and the G8.

The discussion started off with a run through recent memory lane. Mr Larson explained that a few years ago, he and fellow Pontiac employees were taking a good look at the Pontiac line-up and realised that something was amiss. "Being the original muscle car company, we had to re-inject serious doses of performance and styling into our cars." Fast forward a little while and some of the fruits of this labour were the G6, Solstice and Torrent. After mentioning the Torrent, Mr Larson clearly indicated that there will never be a bigger "truck" among Pontiac offerings. "The Torrent was a new approach, something different, we played around with it, gave it serious performance in the form of the new GXP however, nothing larger than a Torrent will ever find its way into Pontiac showrooms."

At this point, Pontiac decided that they needed a mainstream flagship sedan; a car that would scream Pontiac, Power and Performance. Looking way South, they found the Holden Commodore and GM's Global RWD platform. Its wide track (which will make a comeback), RWD setup and large size were perfect for what is destined to become a high-feature, luxurious and fast sedan. "This platform is the same as the one that is supporting the Camaro Coupe and Convertible Concepts. So yes, it could easily accommodate many many more GM cars in the future." He went on to say that this platform could potentially have the capacity for AWD although nothing is confirmed.

Sporting a 115 inch (292 cm) wheelbase, being available with either a 261 hp V6 or a 362 hp V8, the G8 will not only compete with the Dodge Charger and the other Chrysler LX cars but Mr Larson says that it will easily measure up to the BMW 5-Series. He added: "Not only in terms of performance but in quality, luxury and comfort." This is a lofty statement.

As for the Grand Prix, Mr Larson explained to us that the GP is already scheduled for production for both 2007 and 2008. This means that the G8 and GP will be sold side by side for at least one model year. Also, I asked whether or not he thought if the G8 would hurt Impala and Malibu sales. In his opinion, these cars are aimed at different types of buyers. Those that will be looking into the G8 will be hungry for performance and RWD driving dynamics.

2008 Pontiac G8

No sales numbers have yet been announced. According to Mr Larson, the Australian market is so in love with the Commodore that he has a hard time imagining the U.S. and Canada not embracing this car.

The G8 will be built in Australia and will be in showrooms by early 2008.
photo:General Motors
Mathieu St-Pierre
Mathieu St-Pierre
Automotive expert