You have to give Chevrolet credit. General Motors' anchor division has really put the "Sport" into its new Super Sport sedan and is pleasing untold numbers of NASCAR fans in the process.
The SS's lineage is an interesting one. Arriving this fall, the sedan is constructed at GM's Australian facility where for years it has worn the Holden Commodore badge.
For one brief shining moment during the 2008 and '09 model years, GM shipped the car to North America dressed up as the Pontiac G8. When the brand was cashiered in 2009, the G8 was also history, or so we were told.
The car returned for 2013 as the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), which was a significant hint that the Holden/Pontiac/Chevrolet would soon be made fit for civilian duty.
Now dubbed the Super Sport or SS for short, the rear-wheel-drive car was unveiled with great fanfare in February at Daytona Beach, Fla., just prior to NASCAR's season-opening 500-mile event. In that contest, no fewer than 17 of the 43 competitors, including race winner Jimmie Johnson, piloted cars made up to resemble the future production version.
The obvious question is why bother offering such a car when both the new Impala and Malibu are in play. Well, the answer would seem simple: short of a Cadillac CTS-V, there are no "performance" General Motors four-door cars. Yes, lots of Camaros and Corvettes, but zero four-door cars. None. The SS should be considered a family friendly Camaro for performance-minded moms and dads
To fulfill that image, the running gear consists of a current-generation-Corvette-based 6.2-liter V8 that makes "at least" 415 horsepower. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. There's no manual transmission, but at least the standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow you to swap your own gears.
Official fuel-economy figures haven't been released, but somewhere around 15-mpg city and 25-mpg highway would be a reasonable guess. Unfortunately, according to the SS's order sheet, those values aren't high enough to avoid the government's gas-guzzler tax.
Chevrolet is predicting the SS will nail the 60-mph mark from rest in the five-second range. That's quick for any 4,000-pound chariot and will give competing performance sedans, whether domestic- or import-based, a run for their money. As for stopping the SS, Chevrolet has installed a set of beefy Brembo-brand brakes that are only partially hidden behind a 19-inch wheel-and-extra-wide-tire package.
The very cool-looking polished alloy wheels along with a hunkered-down stance transmit some important clues as to the SS's primary mission. Others include a blacked-out grille and lower rear bumper area, rear-deck spoiler plus additional side cladding along the rocker panels. Altogether, the SS is a tasteful and tasty piece of work that is in no way garish.
Concurrent with its race-bred leanings, the SS also doubles as a stellar luxury-car performer. The standard-equipment list encompasses a leather interior with eight-way adjustable and ventilated sport bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, navigation, keyless push-button and remote start, alloy pedals and a 220-watt Bose-brand audio system.
Along with 10 standard airbags, you can count on blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts (the latter being most helpful when backing out of a tight parking spot) and high-intensity xenon headlights.
In fact about the only option offered to SS buyers is a power sunroof, which likely makes the SS the only GM vehicle in recorded history to offer such a meager extra-cost list.
Mind you, the $44,500 starting price - about $7,000 more than a fully loaded Impala - places the SS in a category by itself, whether you're a NASCAR fan or simply a lover of lively family-sedan transportation.
What you should know: 2014 Chevrolet SS
Type: Four-door, rear-wheel-drive full-size sedan
Engine (hp): 6.2-liter OHV V8 (415, est.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with paddle-shift controls
Market position: The full-size luxury sport field is a specialized one and is not the playground in which Chevrolet normally participates. However, as the brand's signature, or halo passenger car, it's certainly a welcome move.
Points: Aussie-based model brings handsome looks to the table; 'Vette-based V8 an ideal performance ingredient for the SS; Lack of a manual gearbox might disappoint some, shouldn't hurt sales; How about an all-wheel-drive option for buyers in colder climes?; SS's NASCAR tie-in a smart marketing ploy; Priced right, given its content and competition.
Safety: Front airbags; front- /rear side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; front knee airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy) 15/25 (est.)
Base price (incl. destination) $44,500
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