The last time Chevy had a five-passenger car for sale with over 400 horsepower it was called the Chevelle SS454 and it packed the 450-gross horsepower punch of the LS6 big-block. Starting in the fourth-quarter of 2013, you'll be able to purchase its spiritual successor, the 2014 Chevrolet SS, a V-8-powered, rear drive sedan with 415 net horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. It's Chevy's first V-8/RWD sedan since the '96 Caprice and Impala SS, finally filling a void in the lineup that was a real sore spot for Bow Tie enthusiasts.
"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 V-8 power make the SS a total performance package unlike any other on the road today."
According to Chevy, the SS "benefits from the proven, race-tested, global rear-wheel drive architecture that is the foundation for the Camaro, Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and Holden's VF Commodore." Essentially an updated version of the ill-fated Pontiac G8, it will go head-to-head in the modern muscle car wars with Dodge's hot Hemi Charger. It should easily slap around a lot of the Eurotrash sports sedans that currently pollute our nation's highways and byways.
Power comes from the 6.2L LS3 and it's mated solely to a six-speed 6L80-E automatic transmission with paddle-shifts mounted to the steering wheel for manual control-essentially the same engine that was in the late G8 GXP. Out back is a fully independent suspension and a 3.27 final drive ratio. Estimated 0 to 60 mph is about five seconds, according to Chevy's claims. Based on what we know of the GXP, the quarter-mile should pass in the 13.4 or better range in the quarter-mile, putting its performance on par with or ahead of the sacred LS6. No top speed has been announced.
Unlike the Chevelle, however, the SS will not be available as a two-door or a convertible. It's four doors or nothing. Handling will be far superior to what was offered in 1970, though. The sport-tuned chassis includes:
- MacPherson strut front and multilink independent rear suspension geometry
- Electronic power steering system, optimized for sport driving
- Standard Brembo brakes, with ventilated, 14-inch rotors and two-piece, four-piston front calipers. The rear rotors measure 12.75-inches.
- Forged aluminum wheels, wrapped in ultra-high-performance Bridgestone tires: 19 x 8.5 inch wheels with 245/40ZR19 tires in front; 19 x 9.0 inch wheels with 275/35ZR19 tires rear
Handling is also improved by a near 50/50 weight distribution, and a low center of gravity-made possible in part by the aluminum hood and rear deck lid that are 30 percent lighter than traditional steel panels.
"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 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."
The SS definitely shares its looks with the new 2013 Sprint Cup car Chevrolet is racing, at least from the front and certain aspects of the side.
"From every angle, the Chevrolet SS says power and performance," said John Cafaro design director Chevrolet passenger cars and small crossovers. "The combination of an aggressive rear-wheel drive stance and body-side attitude with the right balance of detail and refinement inside and out are the perfect home for Chevrolet's V-8 performance package."
Chevy's marketing people told us, "the staggered front and rear wheels, which are pushed out to the corners, enhance the sporting, muscular stance of the SS. Up front, the aluminum hood features a subtle power bulge hinting at the power of the engine underneath. At the rear, the tapered, tear-drop shape contributes to improved aerodynamic performance. Premium cues include jewel-like chrome accents, standard high-intensity discharge headlamps and light-emitting diode daytime running lights." We think the lower portion of the nose is very aggressive, while the upper grille is on the tame side-attractive, but not threatening. The Charger definitely stands out more, but the SS is should be faster than the R/T models, though the SRT8s will be tough to beat.
The interior of the SS will comfortably accommodate five adults, with 42 inches of front legroom, and 39 inches of rear legroom. Leather seating surfaces are standard, as are eight-way power adjustable front bucket seats with additional side bolstering. The SS emblem is prominently stitched onto the soft-touch instrument panel which features two types of chrome finishes-a satin gloss and a bright chrome. At night, the interior is illuminated by ice blue ambient lighting. An integrated center stack includes infotainment, climate and other vehicle controls.
Among the car's standard features:
- Color, in-dashboard touch screen that supports Chevrolet MyLink and the next-generation navigation system
- Bose nine-speaker premium sound system
- Color heads-up display
- Push-button start
- StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control
- Forward Collision Alert
- Departure Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear-vision camera Rear Cross Traffic Alert
For those who truly cannot drive, the SS is also the first Chevrolet to offer Automatic Parking Assist, which provides hands-free parking help. This efficient 'hands-free' parking assistant uses the ultrasonic sensing system to detect the width and depth of either parallel or reverse right-angle parking spaces. While the driver controls the throttle, transmission, and brake, the Automatic Parking Assist controls the steering inputs necessary to neatly park the Chevrolet SS.
The 2014 Chevrolet SS will be available in the fourth quarter of 2013, with prices set closer to the on-sale date. We expect it to come in around $38,000-$42,000. Not cheap for certain, but about the cost of a typical family crossover vehicle.
2014 CHEVROLET SS PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS
|Body style / driveline:||front-engine, rear-drive|
|Construction:||unitized body structure and frame; two-sided galvanized steel (except roof)|
|EPA vehicle class:||large|
|Manufacturing location:||Elizabeth, Australia|
|Engine:||6.2L OHV V-8|
|Displacement (cu in / cc):||376 / 6162|
|Bore & stroke (in / mm):||4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92|
|Block material:||cast aluminum w/ cast-in-place iron bore liners|
|Cylinder head material:||aluminum|
|Valvetrain:||overhead valve; two valves per cylinder; roller lifters|
|Ignition system:||coil-near-plug ignition|
|Fuel:||sequential fuel injection|
|Horsepower (hp/ kW @ rpm):||415 / 309 @ 5900|
|Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):||415 / 563 @ 4600|
|Fuel:||premium recommended not required|
|Transmission:||Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic w/ TapShift|
|Front:||multi-link MacPherson strut; direct-acting stabilizer bar; progressive-rate coil springs; fully adjustable camber, caster and toe|
|Rear:||four-link independent; progressive-rate coil springs over shocks; stabilizer bar; fully adjustable camber and toe|
|Steering type:||electric power|
|Rotor diameter (inches):||14-in Caliper four-piston fixed|
|Rotor diameter (inches):||12.75|
|Wheel size and type:||19 x 8.5-inch forged, fully polished aluminum (front); 19 x 9-inch forged, fully polished aluminum (rear)|
|Tires:||P245/40R19 (front); P275/35R19 (rear)|
|Wheelbase (in / mm):||114.8 / 2916|
|Overall length (in / mm):||195.5 / 5185|
|Overall width (in / mm):||74.7 / 1898|
|Overall height (in / mm):||57.9 / 1491|
|Track (in / mm):||front: 62.6 / 1590; rear: 62.4 / 1612|
|Seating capacity:||2 (front); 3 (rear)|
|Legroom (in / mm):||42.3 / 1074 39.7 / 1008|