Think of the 415-horsepower Chevy SS as a four-door Camaro and a prime reason why speed shops are having to revise their business plans.
This full-size sedan is a factory muscle car with finesse and swaggering force. Right off the car hauler, it doesn’t need (much) tweaking to help it be all it can be. Its foundation is the rear-wheel-drive “global” architecture that underpinned the last-generation Camaro and the car the U.S. once knew as the Pontiac G8, which was adapted from GM’s Holden division in Australia. The G8 went away before its full potential was realized in the States — and now the SS carries on, but it, too, is an under-recognized and underadvertised sport sedan.
Its specifications are a badge of honor:
–6.2-liter overhead-valve V-8 with 415 foot-pounds of torque at 4,600 rpm
–Four-wheel ventilated Brembo disc brakes – 14-inch rotors front, 14.2-inch rear
–3.70 axle ratio (3.27 with automatic)
–Four-wheel independent suspension with Magnetic Ride Control
–19-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE 050A ultra-high-performance tires on alloy wheels
–Near 50/50 weight balance
–19-inch ultra-high-performance Bridgestone tires and alloy wheels
–Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with paddle shifters
The big V-8 has a sweet rock and rumble at idle and an appropriate fury when pushed. Chevrolet claims 0-60 acceleration in 4.8 seconds for the manual and 4.7 for the automatic. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city, 21 highway for the manual and 14/21 automatic. Premium fuel is recommended not required.
A nicely machined six-speed manual is new for 2015 and it makes every day an active engagement of driver and car. The clutch is light and the gearing is well spaced for a power launch with good pull for commuting in fourth and fifth gears. A hill-holder takes away the trepidation of dicey starts, whether an incline or just weather.
The styling is subtle and doesn’t scream “wannabe racer.” But there are some expressive paint colors: Perfect Blue, Some Like It Hot Red, Alchemy Purple, Jungle Green and Regal Peacock Green.
Safety features include hands-free parking, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, side blind-zone alert and rear cross traffic alert. There also are eight air bags and electronic stability and traction controls.
Other standard features include hand-wrapped leather upholstery with front sport seats that are heated and ventilated, a nine-speaker Bose audio system with 8-inch color touchscreen, USB port and streaming Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, head-up display, a rearview camera, front fog lights, heated side mirrors, high-intensity headlights, EZ Key passive entry and push-button ignition, eight-way power front seats with power lumbar, heated and ventilated front seats, alloy pedals and floor mats front and rear.
A sunroof would add $900 while cropping front headroom by 1.4 inches to 37.3 inches.
Keep your local speed shop happy by asking for a quote on lowering springs to trim an inch or two just to sharpen the stance. But that’s all I’d mess with from the factory. Even the wheels suit the car.
The SS is a big, ballsy sedan that lights up eagerly, cuts cleanly into corners then lunges out of the exits. And then it rolls with comfort for the drive to work. It’s a one-price package, except for accessories, with an MSRP of $46,740, including the $995 freight charge from Elizabeth, Australia.
Smaller, entry-level European sedans can cost thousands more and have fewer standard features — but larger prestige. And there are domestic comparables in the Dodge Charger SRT (starting at $49,000 but with no manual transmission option) and the Ford Taurus SHO (starting at $41,000, with automatic and all-wheel drive).
The SS is a special car at a bargain price. It is the confident choice for a sports sedan that will stay relevant and enjoyable for years..
Mark Maynard is online at email@example.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage