22 Feb 2013

New Chevrolet SS - specs and images

The Chevrolet SS is GM's new flagship saloon in the US, and will be the basis for their entry in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup.  It's based on the Holden Commodore and isn't coming to the UK.  

Last November we suggested how Vauxhall could easily reintroduce the Omega to the UK by importing the Holden Commodore, which is already RHD.  Instead of doing that they've rebranded the Commodore as the Chevrolet SS and are introducing it to the US as their new flagship performance saloon.

SS stands for Super Sport and was introduced in 1961 as a performance package for the Impala.  Since then SS has been offered as a performance version of Chevrolet's standard models, much like Mercedes' AMG or BMW's M Division.  This is the first time a standalone car has been called an SS.

The SS has a 6.2 litre V8 engine - internal designation is LS3 - which is also being used in the new Chevrolet Corvette.  The engine produces 415 hp and 415 lb ft of torque.  Married to a 6 speed semi-automatic transmission the SS will do the 0-60mph run in 5 seconds - only half a second less than the BMW M5.

The SS is big news in America as it's the first performance oriented, rear wheel drive saloon that Chevrolet have produced in 17 years.  The SS doesn't only get a big V8 with lots of power.  It's been designed as a performance saloon from the ground up.  Front suspension is MacPherson struts and the rear suspension is an independent multilink system, Brembo brakes are fitted as standard as are forged aluminium 19 inch alloy wheels.

Chevrolet, or rather Holden who designed and built the Commodore on which the SS is based, have ensured a 50/50 weight distribution and low centre of gravity by using aluminium in key bodywork parts.  David Leone, executive chief engineer of GM global, said, “Our goal was to create a car that delivers incredible grip and handling balance while cornering, while still being comfortable to drive on the road. The perfect weight balance and lower center of gravity were a big part of that goal because it enabled the team to tune for a more comfortable highway ride without sacrificing handling or driver confidence while cornering at the limits.”

Other technology that comes as standard, and that one wouldn't necessarily expect from an American muscle car, includes premium BOSE sound system, push button start, ESC, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, rear vision camera, in-dash touch screen and automatic parking assist.

The Chevrolet SS will be available in autumn 2013 in America and never in the UK, unless you purchase a vastly overpriced imported model.

OK, the SS will probably only return something in the region of 20mpg but then so does the SLS AMG, Range Rover Sport, most Ferraris and any other big car with a big engine - that all sell very well in the UK and Europe.  Surely it's not without the bounds of reason to think Vauxhall/Opel could rebadge and sell 2-5000 SSs a year on this side of the pond.  After all, the architecture of the car was RHD in the first instance.