The five-door Pontiac G3 subcompact hatchback enjoys the dubious distinction of being the shortest-lived Pontiac model of all time. It debuted for 2009 and GM went bankrupt shortly thereafter, necessitating the discontinuation of the Pontiac brand. If you're interested in a G3 (though frankly we're not sure why you would be), keep in mind that the car of which it is a clone, the Chevy Aveo, continued to be produced after '09.
Like the Aveo, the Pontiac G3 traced its roots to GM's Korean Daewoo division, which had a little runabout called the Kalos available for rebadging purposes. There wasn't much to be said for the G3 when it was new, and there's even less going for it on the pre-owned market -- other than its assuredly rock-bottom price, that is. Despite the G3's diminutive size, its fuel economy wasn't any better than the larger Honda Civic's, and its performance and refinement were unimpressive.
Most Recent Pontiac G3
Produced for 2009 only, the Pontiac G3 was a five-door subcompact hatchback available in a single trim level. Standard equipment included steel wheels, foglamps, a rear spoiler, a tilt steering column, manual accessories (meaning no power windows and such), air-conditioning and a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary input jack. Notable options were power accessories, cruise control, satellite radio, aluminum wheels and a sunroof.
Power came from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder rated at 106 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. This engine was backed by a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. The former's EPA-estimated fuel economy was 30 mpg combined, while the latter's dropped to 28 mpg combined.
Inside, the Pontiac G3 was attractive enough, sporting decent-quality materials adorned with metallic-look accents. Climate controls were straightforward, though the stereo employed an array of buttons instead of more user-friendly knobs. The G3 offered a convenient 42 cubic feet of cargo space with the 60/40-split rear seats folded, but the 7.1 cubic feet available behind the rear seats won't hold more than a few bags of groceries.
In reviews, we noted that the Pontiac G3 got the job done in a competent but forgettable way. The steering was responsive enough and the ride was adequate by subcompact standards, but the engine protested loudly when full power was needed. We actually preferred the optional automatic transmission to the manual gearbox. Though the five-speed was rated as slightly more economical around town, its ratios were overly wide, and it was a chore to shift.