It has the Corvette and it has the Camaro, but since slicing Pontiac back in 2010, GM has lacked a non-premium rear-drive performance sedan in that same vein. The 2009 Pontiac G8, particularly the LS3 V8-powered GXP version, was the last car to fill that niche. The all-new Chevy SS puts the rear-drive performance sedan back in General Motors.
When you're so broke that you need to cut brands and beg the government for money, you don't have resources to invest in limited appeal products like a four-door muscle car. Arguably, you don't have that money a couple of years later, either, but in the case of the new SS, GM didn't really have to invest all that much. The car uses GM's global rear-wheel architecture from the Camaro and Holden VF Commodore and the LS3 engine is hoisted out of current cars like the C6 Corvette.
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Chevy is quite aware that the SS will appeal to a very limited demographic. Despite being its first rear-wheel drive performance sedan in 17 years, it introduced it at the Daytona International Speedway in February, rather than using an international auto show like Detroit or New York. Instead of trying to make the car appeal to fringe buyers with upgrades and customization options, it's offering the car in one trim level with a full-size spare tire and power sunroof as its two options.
Yep, this car is aimed very narrowly and directly at those that want muscle car power and performance but don't want to be limited to two doors. And with only a US$44,470 415-hp 6.2-liter V8 configuration, Chevy's not messing around with lesser competitors, going directly after other performance sedan flagships like the 470-hp Dodge Charger SRT8, one of the only other cars that belongs in the same conversation.
The LS3 engine works in concert with a six-speed automatic transmission with TAPshift paddles on the steering wheel. The SS has a sport-tuned suspension system with MacPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear set-ups, electronic power steering, four-wheel disc brakes with Brembo fronts, and 19-inch alloy wheels rolled up in Bridgestone ultra-high-performance tires. That package, along with a 50/50 weight distribution and low center of gravity, is sure to open the door for driver-centric performance available on few other available sedans, including a 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) time of five seconds.
Design-wise, the SS really doesn't exude muscle and speed the way the Charger does, and it looks pretty out of its league when parked next to the Camaro and Corvette. At the very least, it could use a set of hood vents like the G8 had. Chevy explains that cues like the pushed-to-the-corner wheels, hood bulge, bright dual exhaust tips and wedge-shaped flank created by the character line give the car a strong, athletic appearance. Meanwhile, the tapered rear enhances aerodynamics.
While it harkens back to the days of fast-but-simple muscle sedans, it includes some of the latest technologies, such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. Technology extends behind the windshield with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Chevy MyLink, 220-watt Bose audio system with SiriusXM, color head-up display, keyless access and push-button start. It's also OnStar equipped and comes standard with six months of OnStar Directions and Connections service.
The $44,470 base price that Chevy announced this week includes a $995 destination charge. The full-size spare tire adds $500 to that price and the power sunroof adds $900. The car will hit dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year, where it will be joined by the new 2014 Corvette Stingray and new Camaro Z/28.
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