Pontiac For 1998
By Carey Russ
Look out! There is a new Firebird on the street, and it has a fire-breathing new engine under the hood to go with its new look. The rest of the Pontiac line gets a variety of evolutionary improvements. All 1998 Pontiacs will be equipped with new, reduced-power airbags to reduce the risk of airbag-related injuries in the event of an accident.
Pontiac's muscle machine just went to the gym. V8-powered Trans Am and Formula models now have a 305-horsepower version of the aluminum-block LS1 engine first introduced in the 1997 Corvette. That 305 horsepower is the same rating as the last year's WS6 option. When the new WS6 is released, look for 320 horses under its hood. The 200-horsepower 3800 Series II V6 continues as the powerplant for the base-model Firebird.
New, more aggressive front bodywork with a shorter nose, new hood and fenders, and vents in the front fenders is featured on all Firebird models. As before, the Trans Am has its own unique front fascia with inset foglamps.
The Firebird and Firebird Trans Am are available in coupe or convertible styles, while the Firebird Formula comes only as a coupe. All get larger 4-wheel disc brakes, and are the first cars in North America to use electronic brake proportioning instead of the more usual hydraulic method. Other enhancements result in improved handling and quieter operation.
The wide-track Grand Prix was completely revamped in 1997, and has been a very successful car in the midsized sedan and coupe categories. As previously, sedans are offered in SE and GT trim, and coupes in GT form. The SE sedan has a 3.1-liter V6 engine and its own front bodywork. GT models use a 195-horsepower version of the 3800 Series II V6 engine. The GTP option package is offered on GT models. It includes a 240-horsepower supercharged version of the 3800 Series II V6 engine, sport-tuned suspension, and a decklid spoiler. New this year with the GTP package isfull-feature traction control, previously unavailable with the supercharged engine. All GT models now have the 4T65-E 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission, formerly available only with the supercharged engine.
The second generation of the Pontiac of minivans made its debut last year. It continues in regular or long-wheelbase form, but the regular-wheelbase models have some extra convenience features for 1998. Dual sliding doors, and a power-operated passenger-side sliding door are now available on all Trans Sports.
The Trans Sport has a multi-function interior, with 5 different seating configurations available to please a wide variety of customers. Second and third-row seats can be flipped and folded or removed for maximum versatility. Storage spaces and cupholders abound. As before, the Montana sport-utility look package is offered.
The luxury car with Pontiac attitude is powered by the 3800 Series II V6 engine in nautrally-aspirated 205-horsepower or supercharged 240-horsepower versions. New color choices, more standard features, and mechanical enhancements are the news for 1998.
The smallest Pontiac is sold in coupe, sedan, and convertible form. There are engine and transmission enhancements this year.
Pontiac's well-equipped best-seller continues into 1998 with simplified option packages. 1999 models will debut in Spring 1998.