Chevy Aveo-based Pontiac G3 set for U.S. sales

Pontiac may have been on its way to regaining the title of General Motors' performance division with the launch of the first-ever G8, but the brand will take two steps back by offering an all-new model for the 2009 model year -- dubbed the G3 -- that will be based on the Chevrolet Aveo.

The EPA quietly approved the G3 for sale in the U.S., even surprising some Pontiac executives with the news over the Memorial Day holiday. The G3 is currently sold in Mexico and Canada, although it is marketed as the Wave in Canada.

The move is intended to round out GM's Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel, but some dealers are worried the sub-compact will dilute Pontiac's performance image. The G3 will be powered by the same 1.6L powerplant found in the Chevy Aveo.

Although some dealers are reluctant about the G3, it will give them an inexpensive and fuel-efficient model to slot below the Vibe. The G3 is EPA certified at 25/34 mpg city/highway and will likely list from about $11,000.

The updated 2009 Chevy Aveo is expected to hit U.S. showrooms in July, so look for the G3 to have an on sale date around that time. Like the Aveo, the G3 will be available as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback.