Join Date: Mar 2001
Full Test: 2006 Pontiac G6 GTP Convertible (edmunds.com)
Full Test: 2006 Pontiac G6 GTP Convertible (edmunds.com)
Give the people what they want, kinks and all
The practicality and convenience of a coupe with a retractable hardtop is alluring, to be sure. The inherent security and all-weather capability of a package that is both a tin-top coupe and a drop-top convertible seems like a win-win proposition. The 2006 Pontiac G6 GTP Convertible couples that two-pronged top with a sleek and attractive body, room for four, a gutsy V6 and a suspension tuned for touring. There are, however, a couple impurities in this formula.
Do the limbo
At first glance, the G6 GTP convertible is a large coupe with a long and sleek profile, Pontiac grille and (thankfully) restrained character lines. At 70 mph, the interior sound level is slightly quieter than similar cars with retractable hardtops. Gaining access to the rear seat, however, can be a problem.
First you have to tilt and slide the front seat forward (fine) but that leaves the seatbelt stretched across the gap at waist level. Now you either have to duck under the roof and simultaneously limbo under the belt or detach the seatbelt from its holder/guide and over it like a trip wire. Hmm. Might it be possible to incorporate the front seatbelt into the seat itself? Certainly, but that (and other suggestions to follow) would undoubtedly drive the price up from the G6 convertible's very attractive sub-$30,000 MSRP.
Once there, two rear-seat passengers will enjoy over 34 inches of legroom and 36 inches of headroom. That's a little tight, but dimensionally about the same as a current BMW 3 Series sedan which doesn't seem to bother most buyers. Of course, lowering the top allows headroom to be limited only by the lowest parking garage or tree limb.
With the touch of a button on the windshield header, the multipanel roof folds and stows beneath a hard tonneau cover in about 30 seconds. This top system is supplied by the German company, Karmann, and we've sampled some similar systems on more expensive cars and the G6's top operates as quickly and very quietly.
Once it is stowed, the G6 becomes a large four-place convertible — something a Porsche Carrera cabriolet or Jaguar XK convertible can't honestly say. Luggage capacity, however, shrinks from an already tight 12.6 to a miniscule 2.2 cubic feet. All that folding metal has to go somewhere and with rear-seat accommodations an obvious priority, the trunk suffers.
We found the six-way power driver seat very comfortable despite a manual back-angle lever with too-few detents for acute adjustments. The tilt-telescope steering wheel adjustment could be improved, as well. Still, the driver is presented with handsome, easy-to-read gauges and a sporty red-lit dashboard. The optional leather package ($1,265) includes leather seating, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel radio controls, a leather-wrapped (on the sides) shift knob and parking brake handle.
Details, nevertheless, are not the G6's strong suit. On two different testers we've driven, the metallic volume knob's interior radius was razor-sharp and the leather-wrapped steering wheel was separating at the seam.
In GTP trim, power comes from a cast-iron 3.9-liter V6 that earns an EPA rating of 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway. Its 227 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque are routed to the front wheels through the only transmission available in the convertible, a four-speed automatic.
Dynamically, the G6 GTP convertible is a modest performer and suffers from abundant torque steer under hard acceleration. Covering the dash to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16-flat at just over 86 mph places it on the sporty side of similarly sized cars. At wide-open throttle, that placid interior sound level we mentioned earlier goes out the window though, and the 3.9-liter engine produces a much louder din than its peers.
For the record, the GTP convertible model has been discontinued for 2007 and the GT convertible with the sport package effectively replaces it with the same powertrain. Newly available in '07 will be a smaller, more sophisticated and more powerful 252-hp 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic, but this attractive, new combo will only be available in the GTP sedan and GTP coupe. Be that as it may, the one thing this G6 convertible doesn't need is more power.
All ahead, full
The G6 convertible's steering rack differs from its closed-top versions in that it eschews the widely criticized electric-assist system in favor of a traditional hydraulic pump. Even so, the steering feel is far from ideal with a dead on-center feel and a wound-spring feeling when it's turned.
Still, for a nose-heavy front-driver, the G6 GTP convertible is an adequate handler. With the standard stability control system turned off, the 18-inch diameter GTP-spec tires offer good grip and contributed to its 0.79g skid pad lateral acceleration figure, as well as a respectable slalom speed of just over 60 mph.
Around town, however, we found the suspension settings a bit unsettling. While the car felt reasonably firm and controlled at the test track, freeways, underpasses and uneven city streets caused the G6 to hop and float the way cars from the 1970s once did. We understand that a convertible weighing 3,800 pounds needs suspension compliance, but more appropriately tuned dampers would do the trick. What's more is that despite the "S.S. Pontiac G6" feeling, there's still a noticeable amount of cowl shake and shudder starting at the base of the windshield and working its way up.
That curb weight also negatively affects the G6's braking ability. Despite four-wheel disc brakes and standard ABS, stopping distances from 60 mph are long at 137 feet.
Practicality and convenience win
So, don't buy the 2006 Pontiac G6 GTP convertible if you're looking for a convertible sports car. Don't buy it either if you dream of throwing two suitcases in the trunk, lowering the top and heading off for a romantic weekend. You'll be disappointed on both counts.
Instead, buy it because it's a reasonably priced, attractive, six-days-a-week coupe that, when conditions allow, will afford a couple hours of top-down motoring with you and three of your luggage-less friends. On Monday, you can put the top back up for urban jungle duty — or if it begins snowing. Just like we said at the top of this page, the practicality and convenience of a four-seat coupe with a retractable hardtop is alluring.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.