Pontiac's advertised the GTO as being "not everyone's cup of tea," because of (among other things) its firm ride. They've said this nasty thing about their own car because they feel it'll take some education to get buyers who, in the past, have demanded an ultra-soft ride. Most people still simply don't know what's gained in handling at such a small sacrifice. Isn't this a far cry from the day of soft-ride-über-alles, when the standard demonstration of a new car was a slow drive around the block on under-inflated tires?
In the same ad referred to above, Pontiac also hints that the GTO is a gas hog. Actually, you can drive it to deliver some remarkably good gas mileages when you consider its weight and the brute power on tap. Our low mileage figure of 11 mpg came in stop-and-go driving, when we used this spirited car's performance to the hilt. We were so surprised when we got 19 mpg on a 200-mile trip of steady 65-70-mph freeway driving that we rechecked it with another 100-mile drive (this one included secondary roads and small towns), and backed it up with 17.6 mpg. Our average for the entire test was 13.2 mpg. The message the makers were trying to put across in their ad was: If you dance a jig on the throttle, you do pay your friendly gasoline piper.
Our test GTO came with the optional two-speed automatic transmission. This unit may not sound too exciting, but it turns out that, when coupled to a large, torky engine, it does a very creditable job of twisting the rear wheels. It has the usual PRNDL pattern on the floor-mounted console.
When you drive the GTO for the first time and drop the lever into D, you feel the car creep forward — normal enough for a well set-up automatic. But you aren't prepared for what happens when you press the accelerator. The car moves out right now, without any preliminary stirring of the transmission fluid. This can be most alarming if you happen to be in a parking lot.