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Two more models add pizzazz to Pontiac G6 lineup

January 20, 2006|by MALCOLM GUNN

Seven different models, three individual body styles and an equal number of engine choices add up to one very comprehensive Pontiac G6 lineup for 2006.

The new-last-year G6 four-door sedan was a radical departure from the Grand Am model that was retired at the end of 2004. The replacement's long hood/short rear deck took some getting used to, but its spacious and more comfortable interior accommodations made up for any perceived visual shortfall.

Now in its sophomore season (who can forget the big G6 giveaway on the Oprah TV show last year?), the G6 line has expanded, just as General Motors promised at the launch, to offer more variations on a common mid-size theme. For 2006, availability has expanded to include both coupe and convertible models, with the latter employing a retractable hardtop in place of a more traditional folding soft lid, which definitely makes it more of a four-seasons machine.

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The two-door G6 looks well proportioned, especially when viewed from the back, although the four-passenger convertible's roofline is more upright than the five-passenger coupe's fastback design.

Since the metal folding top has to go somewhere when it's down, truck space is limited compared to the coupe. Dropping the power-folding mechanism requires 30 seconds, including the time needed to open the trunk lid, clam-shell style, a process that's required to swallow the two main roof sections. Once the roof is in place - up or down - the trunk operates like any other trunk. As the roof is dropping, a hard-tonneau cover pivots into place to leave a clean look and a weathertight seal.

Under the hood, the starting point is a 167-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's standard on base sedans. Optional is a 201-horse 3.5-liter V-6 that also comes in the mid-level GT sedan, coupe and convertible.

The top-tier GTP is equipped with a 3.9-liter V-6 that delivers 240 horsepower in sedan or coupe formats, while the convertible's output is pegged at a slightly lower 227 ponies due to a more restrictive exhaust system. The 3.9 features variable valve timing, the first such application on a conventional overhead-valve powerplant.

All G6s come with four-speed automatic transmissions, but the GTP can be had with an optional six-speed manual gearbox.

The G6 is equipped with the usual array of standard equipment, including air conditioning, CD player and power windows, locks and outside mirrors. The GT's content list adds power-adjustable pedals, premium sound system, traction control, 17-inch wheels and remote car starter.

Pick the GTP and you'll receive upgrades such as climate control, leather interior, six-way power driver's seat, 18-inch rims, anti-lock brakes, sport-tuned suspension and stability control to help keep you pointing in the right direction.

The extensive options list includes side-curtain air bags (sedans only), six-disc CD changer, walnut-trimmed interior and an oversized four-panel sliding-glass sunroof for sedans that, when retracted, provides a substantial open-sky driving experience.

The G6 has been significantly transformed into an any-way-you-want-it vehicle that's destined to attract a diverse customer base. Pontiac has also shifted the hardtop/convertible body style out of the luxury realm and floated it downstream so that sun lovers of more modest means can enjoy the all-weather capabilities inherent in this design.

More significantly, expansion of the 2006 G6 line shows Pontiac's committment to this platform as well as its confidence that buyers will flock to it.

Copyright 2006, Wheelbase Communications

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