That step was recently revealed at the 2008 New York auto show.
Pontiac took the wraps off of the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP.
Based on the already quick G8 sedan, the GXP follows in the footsteps of previous Pontiac performance models like the GTP, offering an upgraded motor and suspension over the standard model.
In this case, the G8 GXP borrows the 6.2 liter V8 from the Chevrolet Camaro and tunes it to make 402 horsepower and 400 lb-feet of torque. In a move that has most muscle car junkies salivating, in addition to the standard 6 speed automatic buyers can opt for a 6 speed Tremec manual transmission.
This makes the GXP only the second performance sedan in the entire General Motors lineup with a manual transmission option, with the other being the Cadillac CTS-V. This option also elevates the Pontiac into the more rarified air of the luxury/sport market with BMW and Cadillac.
The G8 GXP rides on 19 inch wheels and has an upgraded suspension over the standard G8 model, designed to better handle the extra power from the rear wheels. The exterior of the car is similar to the G8 but the front end has been revised to have a more aggressive appearance and to accent the more aerodynamic look of the sports model.
The vehicle is almost a full second faster in the sprint to 60 miles per hour, posting a time of only 4.7 seconds. The GXP comes equipped with electronic StabiliTrak stability control but unlike other domestic competitors the system can be completely switched off for those who desire more heroic driving.
Brembo brakes bring things back under control in a hurry, with 14 inch 4 piston front brakes significantly decreasing the 112 foot 60 mile per hour stopping distance of the GT model.
General Motors is targeting two specific markets with the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP. The first is the domestic muscle sedan scene, where Dodge and Chrysler have dominated with the SRT versions of their Charger and 300C.
Pontiac hopes to gain the advantage over these competitors by offering a manual transmission, unique in that category.
The second group of buyers that Pontiac is looking to lure into their showrooms are those people who are considering one of the BMW M-cars. While it might seem out of place to compare the G8 GXP to the BMW M3 or M5, the performance levels are similar and the price is radically lower.
Given the current tightening of the economy, its entirely possible that those looking to get their high-speed thrills might not care too much about the badge on the front of their car if they can save $20 0000 and still do 150 miles per hour on the track.