If you're in the mood for some fast-paced "excitement" in your life, you may want to consider tooling around in Pontiac's Grand AM GT1. After an enjoyable week with the car last year, I was interested in seeing what the 2001 version had to offer.
The GT1's awesome looks and powerful guts make driving fun. The combination of a galaxy silver metallic paint job and special color-keyed bodyside cladding gave the car a sharp, sportier look. While the car was a head-turner last year, the new look is much more striking.
As for driving, the car's performance is really impressive. Step on the accelerator and the 3.4-liter V6 engine with Ram Air induction delivers 175 hp at 5,200 rpm and 205 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, enough to get you from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8 sec. The GT1's four-speed 4T45-E automatic transmission works in combination with its enhanced traction control system, which adjusts spark timing, gear selection, and fuel delivery, to automatically limit wheel spin in slippery conditions.
Designers used advanced computer-aided techniques to create a body structure that optimizes stiffness while minimizing weight. The car's high-performance suspension handles sharp curves and winding roads smoothly. Key to the responsive ride and handling are aluminum suspension knuckles that reduce unsprung weight. The rack-and-pinion steering system is mounted directly to its hydroformed chassis cradle for precise on-center feel, which isolates road disturbances.
The cockpit-themed interior has all center-panel controls angled toward the driver. The circular cluster panel housing feature warm backlit lighting, which is easy on the eyes. Interior surfaces are soft touch with low-gloss and the control knobs are easy to see and use. Seating is comfortable and supportive for an enjoyable ride. My biggest complaint is the location of the lumbar-support knob. It's located on the right front of the driver's seat instead of on the side of the seat back. You have to keep leaning forward to adjust the knob until you find the most comfortable position. The side-located adjusters let you keep your back against the chair and you can find the most comfortable position more quickly.
My other complaint is the area around the console seems a bit crammed front cupholders are not easy to reach without hitting your hand on either the gearshift or the parking brake. Also, storage pockets on the door are too small to hold much of anything.
Standard features on the Grand Am GT1 include air conditioning, 5-mph bumpers, programmable door locks with lockout protection, ABS, battery-rundown protection, electric remote trunk release, oil-life and tire-pressure monitors, tilt-steering wheel, PassLock II theft-deterrent system, and a sealed-for-life transmission. New this year is the Monsoon premium audio system, which has been tailored specifically to the Grand Am's acoustical environment.
Manufacturer-installed options on our test vehicle included cruise control, power windows, power mirrors, six-way driver's seat, split folding rear seat, steering wheel with radio controls, power sunroof, rear-deck lid spoiler, and a sport interior package.
The base price for this vehicle is $21,805. A "Solid Value" appearance package, valued at $1,120, was added for $800. Add in the $575 destination charge, and you can zoom around in this sharp car for $23,180.