More Liveblog: Does the G8 Peg the Styling Meter?

February 29, 2008

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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