Preview by Justin Pritchard, photos courtesy GM
Preview: 2014 Chevrolet SS - Autos.ca
Yet another ‘not for you, Canada!’ performance model is hitting US dealers later this year. Called the SS, it’s Chevrolet’s first rear-drive performance sedan since 1996 – and officials say it’s designed to deliver performance both on the street (but not Canadian streets) and on the track (but not Canadian tracks).
The SS made its debut to the drooling American masses earlier this month during the Daytona 500.
The SS is built on Chevrolet’s global rear-drive architecture, which also underpins the Camaro, Caprice Patrol Vehicle, and the Holden VF Commodore that’s loved by Australian performance enthusiasts and Holden fanatics across the web.
When the SS goes on sale in ‘Merica, it’ll have a good ole’ V8 engine behind its wide-mouthed grille, packing an estimated 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. The big mill displaces 6.2 L, so it doesn’t sound like one of “them-there import jobbies” when fired up.
Since it’s an LS3-series engine, which is the same you’ll find in a 2013 Corvette, it’ll take well to modifications – meaning lucky owners can add intake, exhaust and camshaft upgrades to taste, dialing power up easily. Using aluminum construction for reduced weight, the LS3 engine is one of the most fuel efficient V8 powerplants on the road – and one engineered to breathe and rev freely.
Power is handled by a six-speed automatic with paddle-shift functionality. Routed through a 3.21:1 rear diff, officials claim 0-60 miles per hour (96 km/h) in about 5 seconds. No manual transmission is available in the American version of this machine.
Handling is supported by MacPherson strut and multilink suspension systems in front and rear, respectively, as well as an electronic power steering system that’s optimized for sport driving. Hardly revolutionary stuff. Brembo brakes are standard in case the radar detector goes off.
Aluminum in select body panels helped engineers keep the weight balance very close to the magical 50/50 mark while lowering the centre of gravity.
“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,” said David Leone, executive chief engineer GM global programs. “The perfect weight balance and lower centre 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.”
Interesting feature content includes a full-colour head-up display system (HUD), a nine-speaker Bose audio system, push-button start and all mandatory ‘you’re leaving your lane / cutting someone off / about to plow into that car’ driver alert systems. The SS will also be the first Chevrolet model to offer a hands-free Automatic Parking Assist system like the one parking-challenged Canucks have been offered by Ford and Toyota for the past few years.
We Canadians have had no luck with fast, affordable rear-drive sedans from GM in recent years. The G8 GT was killed when the automaker axed its Pontiac brand, though examples still exist in the used market. Ditto the ‘new-style’ GTO, which preceded that G8.
Maybe the SS will wind up heading to Canadian driveways through individual imports from south of the border, or as a used buy down the line.
So, why not sell it here? No official explanation is available – though since automakers exist to create shareholder profits, it’s likely that highly paid marketing folks at GM determined that they wouldn’t sell enough units in our market to offset costs of a supply network, advertising, training, and the like.
“The Chevrolet brand was largely built on the strength of rear-drive performance sedans, yet it’s been 17 years since we’ve offered one,” said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America. “The all-new Chevrolet SS fills that void and fills it better than any other vehicle in the brand’s rich history. The comfort, convenience, spaciousness and V8 power make the SS a total performance package unlike any other on the road today.”
It’s not clear if Reuss has ever heard of the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger R/T or the Ford Taurus SHO – though we’ll take his word for it.
Models like these will continue to satisfy Canadian’s needs for fast sedans – with the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger R/T starting in the low forty-grand range with 370 horsepower, and SRT-tuned variants of these available for a few grand more with a hundred more horses. Ford’s torque-monster Taurus SHO Ecoboost comes in around $51,000.