This coupe really cooks. A 900-lb hyper-gorilla from Pontiac's sizzling stable of muscle cars — one of the Grand Prix coupe models is a Daytona Pace car replica — the 2000 Firebird can smoke just about any car on the road. Presenting the driver, of course, with terrible choices: give in to the temptation and risk a speeding fine, or mash the throttle in short spurts for the sheer joy of it all. Fortunately, one can do both.
Not only does it feel like a brawny muscle car, the Firebird looks, sounds, and acts like one. Slide the key into the ignition, step on the clutch, and a glorious growly percussion fills the air. I recommend just sitting there enjoying the uproar before you slip the stick into reverse or first, and take off. After switching to second gear on this six-speed-plus-reverse manual transmission coupe once you get rolling, the sound subsides and for the rest of the ride you're accompanied by rather nice hi-fi sonics as you rip through the gears.
Actually, I couldn't rip through as fast as I wanted. I found the manual transmission a tad sticky. It didn't move from one gear to the next with the kind of slickness girls prefer but I guess guys would have no problem. The Firebird is available with a four-speed automatic transmission but us yahoos don't want to be a wuss, right? Besides, that short leather-clad Hurst shifter is part of the fun, and it's a short throw so any irritation at gear changing wafts away once you're cruising.
Most Firebird buyers are male in the 35-year old range, but the beauty of this model's elegant styling plus front air dams, side scoops, broad hood shoulders, and a sleek rear spoiler, should appeal to women who want a really sexy-looking car. This is probably Pontiac's best-looker if you get the optional $3150 WS6 performance and handling package that includes a ram air induction system, five-spoke 17-inch wheels, grippy speed-rated radials, low-restriction dual outlet exhausts, a specially-tuned suspension and a power steering cooler that does nothing to chill your ardor behind the wheel. The cooler's main function is to bring down the operating temperature of the power steering fluid though the somewhat trucky feel to the steering wheel would seem to preclude its necessity.