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'83 Pontiac J-car offers more pep

Like the other J-car subcompacts from General Motors, the Pontiac 2000 is a far better performer for '83, a vast departure from the introductory car of almost two years ago.

To jack up sales, the GM car divisions have boosted engine output in the J's, added a 5-speed transmission, and adjusted the drive ratios. Result: more pep.

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Standard engine in the Pontiac ''J'' is a 1.8-liter, overhead cam made in Brazil - with an optional fuel-injected 2-liter, except in the SE.

An optional rally suspension is a worthy choice. For $48, the handling is markedly improved and, no matter the type of pavement, the car holds to the road without a murmur. With the 5-speed manual trans-axle, acceleration is brisk.

Total price of the coupe as tested was nearly $9,000. Base price of the 2 -door is under $6,500, plus destination charge.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Pontiac ''J'' at 31 m.p.g.

What has happened shows the impact of the marketplace on the car industry. With performance once again an acceptable word and the price of fuel much lower than a year ago - even the V-8 engine is making a comeback of sorts - the auto industry is trying to give the customer what he'll buy.

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