2014 Chevrolet SS, mixing with the best: Motoramic Drives
The last time Chevrolet sold a proper rear-wheel drive sports sedan was the Impala SS, 17 years ago. But back in February, Mark Reuss, head of General Motors North America, unveiled a new Chevy sports sedan – one with rear-wheel drive, sensible rear seating and a 6.2-liter Corvette V-8 that boasts 415 hp and sprints to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
We were intrigued. And now we’ve driven it. Can the 2014 Chevrolet SS silence the skeptics and compete with Europe?
Fashioned from a Holden Commodore sold by General Motors’ Australian division, the SS received mixed grades upon its reveal – many lamenting about the car’s muted design, while others bewailed the lack of a manual transmission.
I’ll admit, I fell into both groups: I wanted more muscle – more distinction from the Impala. And I wanted the manual transmission from the Corvette – at least as an option – to prove its seriousness in attracting real gearheads while differentiating itself from much of its European competition. I was concerned the SS was a bold plan to reinvigorate a brand that had gone through a tough few years, and when it came to execution, the folks at Chevy had lost their bottle. They didn’t commit.
Talking of commitment: It’s the first time I’ve been to Palm Springs, Calif., and I’m certain of one thing – it’s the world’s largest golf course. But more than its love for chino shorts and visors over sagging bronze skin, it's home to stunning mountainous roads – winding like spaghetti drizzled over a burnt rock face, with sheer drops, boulders, followed by even bigger boulders. The tarmac is smooth. The bends are fast, sometimes blind, and always exhilarating. As a driver, committing to the corner is imperative.
So there I was, pushing the SS on these very roads in an effort to discover whether Chevy had committed to the car like I had.
The V-8 shielded under the skin is the Corvette’s LS3. With 415 lb.-ft. of torque to match its power output, it bursts off the line forcefully, pulling hard while remaining calm. With horsepower figures sometimes bordering on silly, I’m starting to believe that a low 400 hp complements today’s roads perfectly. It’s fast, but not crazy fast. It’s usable power.
The noise from the SS booms like the Haka from a New Zealand rugby match. Its deep bellow resonates, crackling on the overrun – and unlike rugby, it’s unequivocally American. The sound deadening within the car limits the brutish note a tad, but when I heard a fellow journalist rip his SS from a stoplight while I had my window down, I realized quite how ferocious this car is. It’s deafening.