By Chris Chase

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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I was walking through the greenhouses at Ottawa’s Carleton University, checking out an exotic butterfly exhibit, when it occurred to me that these fragile creatures could have been inspiration for the concept of the hardtop convertible.

See, both can change from one distinct form into another, although the hardtop convertible can also change back, which I suppose is a good thing. You know, in case it rains. Anyway, it was purely coincidence that I’d driven to the butterfly exhibit in a Pontiac G6 convertible, which holds the dubious honour of being the least-expensive four-seat hardtop convertible on the market.

Maybe the link between butterflies and any car is a stretch, but the idea that the 2007 G6 convertible’s starting price of $35,960 makes this car affordable for many drivers isn’t so tenuous a notion.

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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Offered only in GT trim, the basic G6 Convertible is motivated by GM’s 3.5-litre V6. While this motor makes 224 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque in the G6 sedan, output drops to 217 hp and 217 lb-ft in the convertible. No matter for me, though, as my tester had the GT Convertible Performance Package, which brings with it the 3.9-litre V6. Naturally, the bigger engine is more potent, offering up 240 horses and 241 lb-ft and a continuously variable valve timing system helps the engine breathe better. The 3.9-litre also comes bundled with a shorter final-drive ratio in the transmission for better acceleration.

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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Of course, given my druthers, I’d have preferred the 3.6-litre Cadillac-sourced V6 fitted to GTP models. That engine and its attendant six-speed automatic transmission sounds like a far sportier proposition than a pushrod motor and a four-speed automatic, but hey – I don’t get to choose what I drive.

All the same, the 3.9-litre engine is more than enough to move the G6 around. That 241 lb-ft of torque peaks at a useful 2,800 rpm, so throttle response is quite good, and the torque helps make up for the lack of a fifth gear in the transmission.

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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It became apparent early on that this G6 was better suited to cruising than hard cornering, as understeer is the order of the day. The chassis flexes more than your hot yoga instructor, except in this case, it’s not so nice to watch. While it’s tough to turn a coupe into a convertible without compromising some of the chassis’ structural integrity, the amount of cowl shake in the G6 verges on the ridiculous. At least my G6’s top worked smoothly, though I noticed a couple of (very) small leaks while going through a touchless car wash.

Thankfully, the body bending is less evident with the top up. Headroom is surprisingly good too, at least in the front seats. The steep rake of the rear half of the roof cuts into rear-seat headspace; GM Canada’s website says the convertible only gives up five millimetres of headroom to the G6 sedan, but it feels like far more than that to us. Rear legroom is okay for cross-town trips, so long as the person in front of you doesn’t need to sit too far back.

Cargo space is reasonable –with the top up – with a trunk that can accommodate 362 litres worth of stuff in a wide and long, but fairly shallow, space. With the top down, however, the cargo hold shrinks to a very shallow 63 litres worth – but you have to pack that space while the top is up, as the roof will fold down overtop of it. The VW Eos – another affordable four-seat convertible with a folding hardtop – offers enough cargo space for a good-sized suitcase, even in topless mode.

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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G6 GT models, like my tester, come standard with a terrific-sounding 200-watt Monsoon sound system. Sadly, there was a persistent vibration in the right-side door that rattled along with the bass line and took away from the listening experience.

I would have liked some more small-item storage in the interior; there’s a change compartment to the left of the wheel and a small cubby in the dash in addition to the glove box and centre console bin.

While the G6 convertible is indeed the least-expensive four-seat folding hardtop around, it’s also the cheapest (in the less complimentary sense), and the starting price is only about $1,000 less than that of the Eos. Even though the G6 offers more standard equipment, I’d argue it’s a better package, even if it’s only available with a 200-horsepower turbo four, where the G6’s V6 engines offer more torque. But factor the VW’s stiffer structure and much better cargo flexibility and the Eos looks like the winner.

2007 Pontiac G6 Convertible
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Fitted as my G6 was – with the aforementioned GT Convertible Performance Package – the bottom line came to $40,625. Pack an Eos with the Sport Leather Package (which brings more features than the G6 package, though the G6 droptop has more standard kit) and six-speed clutchless manual (the base Eos tranny is a true six-speed stick) and the price is $42,850 including freight. The Eos also comes with standard side airbags, which include an extension to provide head protection; seat-mounted side airbags are a $515 option on the G6 (which my tester didn’t have).

Taken on its own, the G6 convertible is a nice-looking package, both on paper and in the flesh. Its downfall is the driving experience, which simply isn’t as pleasant as in the Eos. How do you say butterfly in German, anyway?

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