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More Liveblog: Does the G8 Peg the Styling Meter?

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I'm trying to do this secretly, but it's not working. In the five or six miles it takes to get from downtown San Diego to Hillcrest, I've almost caused two accidents, caused the owner of a mid-Nineties Bonneville to slide back and forth at a stoplight to get a stem-to-stern-to-stem-again look at the new G8, and finally, caused two black-golf-shirt types in a Mustang convertible to stop, pull over, gawk and circle.

People know the Pontiac G8 is new, but why? Does it connect the dots of a musclecar outline, or is it just a great-looking sedan?

This morning, co-driver Joe Tralongo and I wondered if the G8's sleek shape would make the enthusiast tach rise to redline. It's a relatively unadorned body, after all. And when a Charger R/T in sunburst orange blew by us on the Interstate, the G8's refined stance (which ends up looking like Honda's new Accord in profile) seems a little less musclebound. There are musclecar cues--the fender louvers, quad tailpipe tips, a sharp mini-spoiler on the trunk and red faces on the gauges--but a few upscale glints too, like the thin chrome-like trim that outlines the door handles.

A year ago, we asked stylists around the industry what a musclecar should look like. What gives them their unique appeal--other than the obvious V-8 muscle? GM designer Brian Smith told us it's in the long-hood, short-deck stance and the contouring of the body -- neither of which the G8 has in spades. And yet there's something recognizable in its look, probably the Pontiac grille, flared nostrils and all, that signals muscle to the other drivers I'm trying to nudge away from the G8's brand-new, unscathed flanks.

The G8 hits a big target--conservative enough to dress in black, flared and scooped enough to wear lascivious red paint without irony. If you really want raw muscle, though, the Charger is probably the better choice.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the G8's rear seat and how it spreads out compared to the Charger and Accord--and later this weekend, we'll talk more about the V-8 and automatic drivetrain, and how you can tell the G8's cockpit was built to be built around the world. In the meantime, enjoy some more G8 photography over in our photo galleries, and tell us what you think of the G8's styling in a comment below.
 
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Comments (24)
  1. "GM designed Brian Smith told us it’s in the short-hood, long-deck stance..."

    Um, you meant to type "long-hood/short-deck" - Didntya?

    Short-hood/Long-deck = Chrysler "Cab Forward" LH Sedan
     
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  2. "Does it connect the dots of a musclecar outline, or is it just a great-looking sedan?"

    Both. This is a great looking car.
     
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  3. I'm personally having trouble seeing the G8 as a muscle car. In the end, I think the styling will prove too derivative of the E46 M3, too international, and too bland.

    I think you've got an error (and a typo) in the entry: GM designeR Brian Smith likely specified a long hood with a short deck, not the other way around as you have it.
     
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  4. Musclecar?

    Wait, weren't musclecars cheap junky nose-heavy two-door versions of cheap junky sedans?

    And didn't GM, and Pontiac, just about destroy the breed with the Trans Am and all the plastic junk they stuck on them, right down to the goiters that passed for hood scoops on the last WS6?

    How 'bout something a little more tasteful. Like a Holden Commodore sedan. Or is that too much to expect from GM's designated Tacky Division?

    Wait, you mean the G8 *is* a Holden Commodore sedan? Oh...
     
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  5. Righto on the typo - my mind must be wandering, even with a quad-shot Starbucks.

    Junky? There's really nothing junky about this car, unless you really hate Blaupunkt audio systems and really want an in-dash nav system.
     
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  6. Todays "muscle" style was first (in my mind) coined with the 92 325i (and to a lesser degree the 89 5-series). This Pontiac, the new CTS, the IS250/350, even the new Audi (is it the latest A4?) have the same raked look. Sure the Dodge looks good - even muscle bound - but the G8 and the others I mentioned look fast, capable, classy, yet have a air of subtleness - and that look is what I love about the 67 Mustang Fastback, 69 GTX and Roadrunner, 67 Chevelle SS 396 and many others that defined "muscle car" for me.
     
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  7. I haven't seen the real car, just the photo above, but in the photo, it just looks like another mid-size Pontiac ready to fall apart about when the 3 year loan is paid off. Who really wants hood scoops, gills, and lots of plastic under the bumper which is going to break as soon as you hit a racoon or pull into a parking place and touch a curb. How about clean styling - not focus-group gimmicks? Oh, and maybe a Knudson nose.
     
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  8. Let's get real. Musclecar is as musclecar does. A real musclecar accelerates with the subtlety of a sledgehammer,and the build quality of a Wal Mart knock-off. A real musclecar sees every straight road as a dragstrip, and every corner as an inconvenient way of connecting straight roads. Real musclecars remind 60 year olds of how they felt at sixteen. And like dinosaurs, real musclecars flourished when there was an ecological niche for them.
    I love musclecars, but modern automobiles are orders-of-magnitude better, functionally, and socially. God bless the people who keep the real musclecars going, but the term "modern musclecar" should make your spell checker explode.
    And real musclecars never have four doors.
     
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  9. Looks like another Pontiac headed for the rental car bin. Seriously, when is that one designer at Pontiac going to retire?
     
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  10. SAD, SAD, AND SAD!!!! Can't we give the domestics a chance? We keep this up and before you know it we will be saluting to a Japanese flag! I feel that U.S. carmakers are trying and can produce good vehicles but we need to support our industries. Be proud of being American.
     
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  11. It's STILL a pontiac! It's got that ugly pontiac snout stuck to the front of another "cookie cutter" design. The days of pontiac excitement are OVER. I think pontiac will be the next to bite the dust at GM. Nobody wants pontiacs. Nobody is buying them. Their sales continue to founder. Nobody wants that ugly pontiac snout anymore and their "revolutionary" rear wheel drives will make achieving CAFE standards more difficult for GM - and GM can't handle any more difficulties at this time.
     
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  12. Maybe we are just too influenced by nostalgia - most of the old muscle cars didn't have knockout styling - just big engines and noisier exhaust systems.
    The G8 looks like a solid road car - looks pretty good from the front and inside, although pretty boring from the back. It is a lot better looking than the recent Grand Prix and Bonneville sedans - so I see it as an improvement for the Pontiac dealers. Compared to many other "sports sedan" performance cars of the world, it is quite a bargain at arounf 30 grand.
    I think it will do moderately well, and will generate some additional excitement if the bring in the station wagon and sedan pickup versions - finally something for El Camino owners to move up to.
     
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  13. It's sad alright. The Us manufacturers just can't seem to avoid derivative designs... except for Cadillac. The new CTS which I've seen on the road, is striking and refreshingly new. I currently have a CLS and a Cayman S, and the CTS is the first American car that has tugged at my car nut heart!
     
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  14. The G8 has a look that could be comfortable in several settings; it is muscular enough to hang out with muscle cars and refined enough to tap bumpers with BMWs.
     
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  15. Looks like every Pontiac made for the past 15 years. When is this look going to get old for GM designers??????
     
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  16. Honestly, the Pontiac nose used to make a Commodore into a G8 dates the car by twenty years. It's just wrong.

    In its Holden form this is quite a sweet looking vehicle especially in SS guise.....but in it's G8 form it's.......fugly.

    And these constant referrals to it being some sort of muscle car......pull the other one! This is a standard Australian family sedan with some go fast plastic and lowered suspension.....no muscle car.

    If it must be classified then in the form you see it I'd be calling it a 'sport sedan' like the 5 series or 7 series BMW....
     
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  17. I think it's a good looking car. I like the stance, I like the look. The only issue I have with the car, they could have left the "hood scoops" off....I mean they're not even functional. Just like Ford with the Mustang GT with the GT apperance package. COME ON PEOPLE, THE HOOD SCOOP ISN'T REAL, IT'S USELESS!!!!!
     
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  18. Looks like they took a Grand Am from the late 90's and tried to BMW-tize it. Not very original at all.

    They better get the Camaro right!
     
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  19. I agree with Wayne K 100%. When I first seen it, I loved it, but wondered if they'd be a smooth aftermarket hood to put on, or a body shop to eliminate the hood scoops. Pontiac finally got rid of the side ribs for good. They are almost there... good enough for me anyway though.
     
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  20. Seems like a dark color would make it look nicer since it hides the tacky hood scoops and makes it look more solid and sleeker.
     
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  21. I think the G8 is the best thing Pontiac has done in a long while. It looks like a great deal for 30k and will create a lot of excitement for Pontiac dealers. I'm not crazy about the scoops, but overall I think it looks good. I definitely prefer it to the Charger's styling. I'm hoping the reliability will be good too.
     
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  22. Charlie: Sorry---mediocre is mediocre, regardless of nationality. When you say "support our industries," are you saying we should spend thousands of dollars on principle, instead of looking for the best car for the money? When Pontiac (among others) makes a truly competitive car, I will consider it. Meanwhiel, I don't need to ship my money off to GM, when it consistently shows it does not really care about building truly oustandting cars.

    Maury
     
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  23. Maury,
    The G8 is an outstanding car! It competes in capability with much more expensive imported brands while costing tens of thousands less. That would be the definition of best car for the money! Not putting words in Charlie's mouth, but I think he is addressing the knee jerk bias in some quarters to write off American products without fairly evaluating their merits. I'll bet the same voices that knock the Pontiac face think the very similar BMW look to be just wonderful.
     
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  24. Is it boy racer? You bet!
    Is it handsome? Well, maybe after 8-10 beers.
    Is it the styling that should have been on the GTO? Yesssssssssssssssir!
     
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