2014 Chevrolet SS is a Handsome High-Po Sedan…with One Glaring Omission
We were huge fans of the Pontiac G8 during its tragically-short life. And we were especially fond of the G8 GXP, with its 415hp LS3 V8 and choice of a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. In fact, if we had our druthers (and by “our druthers” we mean the money and garage space) we’d have both a G8 GXP and the Holden-supplied Poncho that came before it, the last generation GTO.
Chevrolet, however, wants to lure us away from its late sister brand with its own Australian immigrant, the 2014 Chevrolet SS. It’s the nameplate’s new representative in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and its new four-door performance leader. In fact, the folks at Chevrolet have, more than once, proclaimed it to be a “four-door Corvette.” So…is it?
Well, it’s certainly a good looking car, if you ask us. It’s based on the recently-revealed VF-series Holden Commodore, itself an evolution of the VE Commodore that begat the G8. The small upper grille and large lower grille (with a black divider for mounting a front license plate) dominate the nose, along with big, bright headlights and LED running lights. The sides are fairly featureless (except for the fender vents, which have become the tailfins of the 2010s), while the decidedly clean tail features simple taillights whose shapes somewhat mirror those of the headlights. The exterior styling doesn’t really break any new ground, but sometimes, that’s a good thing.
The interior is also tastefully executed. Rich leather and suede adorns the seats and a few other areas, while the dashboard, door panels and center console feature a sprinkling of black and bright chrome trim. You’ll also find a host of tech toys, including Chevrolet’s app-based MyLink system, a rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, and a nine-speaker Bose sound system. Again, nicely done, Chevy/Holden.
And as befitting its super sedan pretensions, the SS features a well-balanced rear-drive chassis. It also features a thumping 6.2L LS3 V8, provisionally rated at 415hp and 415 lb.-ft of torque. If that sounds like the same engine that was installed in the G8 GXP, that’s because it might very well be. Chevrolet forecasts 0-60 times of around five seconds.
The Chevrolet SS sounds like a real humdinger, right? Well, yes, but you’ll notice that we haven’t discussed the transmission. Yes, we said transmission, with no “s” at the end. We can haz mandatory 6-speed manual, a la the E39 BMW M5? Er…no. Six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. We’re sure it’s a fine transmission, and it will make the SS easy to live with day-to-day (particularly in traffic infested regions like our own). But all this prattling on about “four-door Corvette,” “premium sport sedan,” “best cancer treatment yet discovered” (Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t actually released by GM PR…)…and you make it slushbox only? Even though the ADM-tyte VF Commodore SS is scheduled to offer a standard-shift option? That’s just WRONG, son.
Even BMW, who trumpet the current F10 M5’s 7-speed dual-clutch tranny as the greatest thing since heated toilet seats (or something else that’s really swell), also offers a Paleozoic three-pedal 6-speed in North American (and only North American) versions. Why? Because Yankee Bimmerphiles demanded it, just like they did on the E60 M5 (though considering how uncouth that car’s standard single-clutch 7-speed paddle-shift setup was, we certainly don’t blame them). Could Chevy offer the SS with a stick later on? Certainly. Will they? We’d say the odds are about 60-40 in favor. But unless and until that happens, we expect hardcore hoons who refuse to drive anything on which they can’t hone their heel-and-toe craft to pass on the SS in favor of one of the aforementioned M5s, a CTS-V, or a G8 GXP. We’ll see if our hunch is correct when the first SSs start making their transpacific crossings this fall.