The cars we loved.
In the sad drama that was the last years of GM’s Pontiac division, one car stood out for its virtual lack of impact on sales or the Pontiac legacy. The Korean built G3 sounded like a great ideal on paper. After all, GM had been selling a version of it for Chevrolet for some time called the Aveo. In other parts of the world it had been the foot stool of the Holden line or badged a Daewoo parts of the Asian world, its native environment. Closer to home, Canadians and Mexicans enjoyed a homely sedan variant called the Pontiac Wave. The Wave was the most attractive variant next to the three door sold in Australia as the Barina.
What landed in American dealerships was a 5 door hatchback only model coming in one trim level. As such, the G3 had all the baseline features you would expect in minimal economical transportation. air power windows and of course a stereo. As a Pontiac, the G3 was better equipped than the average Chevy Aveo, they both had a 1.6L four cylinder engine making all of 106 hp. Those who went for self-shifting versions got a four speed who’s EPA mileage was the same as the 5-speed manual. Speaking of mileage, the G3’s biggest legacy would be to give Pontiac bragging rights about having four models that got 30 mpg or better. Never mind that no one was buying at least three of them.
One might think that a Pontiac branded Aveo would be sporty. They would be wrong, as the G3 was about as far from sporty as Pontiac would stray from its image as GM’s excitement division. The G3 was noisy at speed and offered little in the way of style compared to other Pontiacs. It did have a fake air vent on the side, to remind onlookers that it did have something in common with the G8. While no one would confuse the exterior for a G8, the interior was simple and well designed with tasteful restraint. Compared to fake brushed aluminum touches that make many dashboards look like robot faces, the G3 looked
For what it was, it was a decent if not very ordinary car. Pontiac subcompacts of the past would have killed for this level of refinement, but the small car market had evolved considerably in the US since the days of the LeMans and T1000. The G3 was already late to the party as cars like Honda’s Fit and Toyota Yaris were grabbing sales. Besides holding up the Corporate Fuel Average (CAFÉ), the G3 has the distinction of being the last new model offered by Pontiac. It was introduced as if it would have been business as usual at Pontiac or the product planners had no ideal that they would be looking for work a year later.
In fact , the G3 lasted about one model year and was discontinued in 2010, making it perhaps the shortest lived model in GM history, or at least for Pontiac. It was one of the first casualties as the company announced its dissolution. Unfortunately, just as the G3 went on sale in February 2009, GM announced the end of Pontiac in April. By January 2010, only 6,233 G3’s had been sold. Who knows, with numbers that low the G3 could be the new down market classic of the future. The time may come when any late era Pontiac will have collector value for the hard core enthusiast. Meanwhile, if you missed your chance to grab a G3, it lives on in the form of the Chevrolet Aveo. Now called the Spark, its a car more fitting of the old Pontiac image despite wearing a bowtie.