“G’day, mate” greetings were commonplace during development of Chevrolet’s 2014 SS, a new V8 performance sedan based on General Motors’ global rear-drive architecture that begins production at GM Holden’s Elizabeth, Australia, plant in 3Q13.
The SS essentially reprises the well-regarded but short-lived Pontiac G8, which was also spawned from Holden’s VF Commodore in the 2008 model year. Since then, GM has expanded the bandwidth of the platform formerly known as Zeta to include the Camaro and Caprice PPV police car. The SS’s 114.8-in (2916-mm) wheelbase fits between those of the PPV, at 118.5 in (3010 mm), and Camaro, at 112.3 in (2852 mm).
Power in this rumbling Aussie-Yank collaboration comes from GM’s 6.2-L LS3 used in the 2013 Corvette. It is expected to deliver 415 hp (309 kW) and 415 lb·ft (566 N·m) when final SAE certification is completed. Acceleration to 60 mph (97 km/h) will be in the low 5 s range, according to a GM Powertrain engineer involved with the program.
Initially the SS will not benefit from the new, more efficient LT1 direct-injected V8 with cylinder deactivation and variable camshaft phasing recently announced for the 2014 Corvette Stingray.
The LS3 drives through a six-speed automatic transmission, which can be shifted manually using steering-wheel-mounted paddle levers. Final drive ratio is 3.27:1.
The Chevrolet SS’s sport-tuned chassis features MacPherson-strut front and multilink independent rear suspension. Its electric power steering system is calibrated to give a taut, sporting driving feel through the wheel. (The car’s electrical architecture is entirely new.) The standard foundation brakes are supplied by Brembo and use ventilated 355 mm (13.9 in) diameter front rotors with two-piece, four-piston calipers.
The SS’s five-passenger cabin will be fairly posh, with standard full leather seating surfaces and eight-way power adjustable front bucket seats with ample side bolstering. A neat surprise-and-delight feature is the SS emblem that is stitched into the soft-touch instrument panel. At night, the interior is illuminated by ice-blue ambient lighting.
The integrated center stack includes infotainment, HVAC, and other vehicle controls including a color touch screen that supports Chevrolet MyLink and GM’s next-generation navigation system. The SS’s electronic safety-systems suite features forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, side blind-zone alert, and vision-camera-based rear cross-traffic alert.
The SS is the first Chevrolet model to offer hands-free automatic parking assist. The system uses an ultrasonic sensing system to detect the depth and width of either parallel or reverse right-angle parking spaces. The driver controls the throttle, transmission, and brake, while the automatic parking assist computers control the steering inputs required to park the car.
Besides offering a new competitor to the likes of Ford’s Taurus SHO, Chrysler’s SRT8 sedans, and various D-segment German and Asian sports sedans, the new SS also will serve as Chevrolet’s NASCAR Sprint Cup nameplate. On Feb. 16, an SS driven by Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing won its first time out in the Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona International Speedway, prior to the 2013 Daytona 500. And in Daytona 500 qualifying on Feb. 17, Danica Patrick put her Chevy SS-bodied racecar on pole for the February 24 race, averaging 196.43 mph (316.12 km/h).