Still trying to decide if it is GM's excitement division, economy department, or swoopy styling central, Pontiac brings us the Daewoo-designed
G3, which it claims "emphasizes value without compromising a fun driving experience." Uh-huh. This is brand engineering at its worst. Didn't they tell us the same thing when they debuted the miserable little LeMans econobox of the '80s? Surely the mighty GTO is turning over in its grave.
At 34 mpg highway, even GM's own Chevy Malibu hybrid
matches its economy, and does it with far more power, panache, and comfort. Pontiac claims the G3 is "surprisingly well-equipped, with standard air conditioning," leading us to believe it might well be equipped with crank windows and a Blaupunkt stereo with two paper cone speakers. And only four speeds in the optional automatic transmission don't help its case for either performance or max economy. At least it does feature the lowest starting price of any Pontiac. But should one have to skimp on equipment and refinement just to get an affordable vehicle?
Over at Honda, they've proven you can have style, fun, and great driving dynamics with their new Fit
. Come on, Pontiac. You risk alienating your high-performance fans, while offering nothing special in the economy car realm. American drivers now know that economy cars needn't be miserable and thin. Why would anyone in their right mind spend more money to get into a G3, with a starting price of $14,995, when they could get into a 2009 Fit
for $14,550? Not a compelling buy, nor a compelling drive. --Colin Mathews
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