Pontiac is to become GM’s ‘affordable performance’ brand, dropping vehicles like the Torrent crossover in favor of sporty sedans and coupes like the G8 and the upcoming Solstice coupe. The new coupe is due next year as a 2009 model and will feature a higher performance version of the current inline-four, but a V6 unit has been ruled out. The new model based on the coupe-concept version will join the roadster, with the two soldiering on until a redesigned version arrives for the 2011 model year.

The entry-level G5 will be replaced with a new version for the 2010 model year and is likely to pickup up a RWD layout. As for the G6, designers are in need of a new RWD architecture for the next model. Previous plans called for the FWD Epsilon 2 platform but engineers will now turn to GM’s new RWD Alpha platform currently being developed. However, legislation being debated surrounding tougher CAFE standards has put the project on hold.

Like the Torrent, Pontiac will no longer sell the Grand Prix after the current model runs out at the end of the year, reports Automotive News.

Attention now turns to the V8 muscle cars. We already know almost everything about the new G8. Base models will get a 261hp3.6L V6 and performance GT models get a 362hp 6.0L V8. As for a new GTO or Firebird, insiders at GM say it’s unlikely at this point given the political and environmental climate.