General Motors, in general, and Chevy, in particular, continue to wander in a fog of memories and dreams, still trying to figure out what sort of cars they are supposed to be building these days. They are offering up everything from the absurd and cheap, cheap imports from GM Korea like the Sonic, to the lavish and lavishly priced new Caddy Escalade. There are some hits and many real misses in this strategy, but the General plows on clueless. One of the best of the current bunch, the new for 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan, is a sensational car that simply has been flying well under the Buy-dar, with around 3,000 a year being sold in a US car market of 16.5 million. It’s a shame as this package really has a lot going for it and is one of the best “American” style cars ever to take the road, but the market has moved on, swayed by the sexy tech and pretentious marketing of the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Audi – all of whom sell volumes into the $50K sedan bracket.
The SS is every 60’s musclecar fan’s dream car – big, powerful V8, independent suspension all around, jumbo tires, powerful brakes, four-door practicality, all the latest technologies like traction control and adjustable suspension, and a comfortable, modern interior loaded with neat features and conveniences. Just about everything you could want in a car and still under $50K out the door. What could be wrong with that?
Well, the driving is an awesome experience, but the styling is on the dull side and the cachet has yet to catch up. “I just got a new Chevy” just does not get the neighbors turning green with envy in the new millenium plus 15. Too bad, cause this Chevy is all good.
From the outside in, there’s a lot of chrome, which may be tastefully applied, but is still not contempo. Overall size is hardly compact, but quite reasonable, and the SS has a solid stance to it. Detailing and sculpting is mercifully free of trendy dents, sweeps and pointless creases, but not a very exciting or unique shape, and certainly not the cool one would expect for a top-of-the-line model. On the inside we’ll find very nice and cozy, heated and cooled seating for four, the usual touch screen infortainment, powerful AC, and an overall impression of reasonable quality, if not luxury. For a performance car, it’s really pretty nice … no real complaints here, just not very special.
On the road everything falls into place. The 6.2 liter LS3 V8 has massive cojones and loves to rumble. Your choice of a slick automatic or a 6-speed manual – at no extra cost, both excellent. Hammer down and you’ll see lots of wheelspin, exciting vibes and a 0-60 run in about 5 seconds and enough umph to put just about anything into the deep distance when it comes time to pass. Perfect!
Toss in a corner or two and you’ll experience a well balanced chassis, powerful brakes and reasonably sensitive steering. Not quite the best European sport sedan feeling, but pretty damn good. The new for 2015, magnetically adjustable suspension offers up a plush cruise mode and a tart, tight backroad-friendly sport setting … pretty sharp. I can’t fault the overall dynamics here .. this car is a blast to drive and gets to be more fun the more you wail.
Sadly, the SS’s days are numbered as GM intends to close the Austrailian factory where it is built in 2017. Like the lamented, but again unsellable, Pontiac GTO and G8 that came before it, the SS will roar off into the dark night of history with a sigh of what might have been. If only Americans had not been so seduced by the sexy Europeans and could still relate to home grown values and the smell of tire smoke in the mornin’.
Too much fun, too late to the party. Going to be the sensation of Barrett-Jackson in 2049.
• dean seven