“That’s one of them cars you see in NASCAR.” The Chevrolet SS was in one of the few places where it would be positively identified – a local car show. In a field between Camaros new and old, the SS is an oddity. While the SS has much in common with a modern Camaro, it has a vintage vibe about it. It is an artifact of a bygone age, seemingly lost in time. The list of full size sedans that offer eight cylinders, two drive wheels, and a manual transmission is a short one. But most people don’t even know this car exists.
“A SS what?” “No, just the SS.” The SS is the definition of a sleeper. A rather nondescript sedan in a nondescript color hides some surprising credentials. Why does this car live an anonymous lifestyle? Perhaps it’s because it looks a bit like a Malibu. Or maybe because the only airtime it gets involves running around in circles with Ford Fusions and Toyota Camrys. Not exactly the performance benchmarks Chevrolet wants to associate with. Regardless, in a literal field among a number of American performance icons, SS begins draws a crowd. People start to notice the subtle hints of performance.
The bulging hood hides the 6.2L LS3 V8. For 2015, a number of new updates have helped the SS become even more potent. The 19” chrome wheels, wrapped in performance rubber, conceal Brembo brakes on all four corners. The center console is now home to a new manual gear lever and performance dial. The newly optional Tremtec 6-speed manual transmission is paired with a 3.70 rear axle ratio, making the manual SS faster off the line than the automatic SS. The dial controls the 3 settings of Chevrolet’s third-generation Magnetic Ride Control. These updates mean the Chevy SS shares the same running gear as the Camaro 1LE we drove earlier. And that makes sense, seeing as they’re built on the same Zeta platform.
Introducing the SS as four-door Camaro isn’t entirely accurate, but it gets the important points across. 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft torque propel the SS to sixty in under five seconds. No, this definitely isn’t a Malibu. And yet, comparing the SS to the Camaro does it a great disservice. The SS’ interior is several steps up in terms of material quality. Plus, two extra doors provide two extra seats. While the rear seats may be firm, there’s plenty of room for four adults. The sedan’s roofline also means much better all-around visibility. It’s the standard Recaro front seats, performance flat-bottom wheel, and solid shift lever that remind you of the performance at your fingertips. You would think this all has a weight penalty over the Camaro, but the SS’s aluminum hood and trunk lid mean a near perfect weight distribution and minimal weight gains.
The addition of Magnetic Ride Control helps the SS achieve an excellent balance of comfort and control. The variable modes allow the driver to customize the feel of the car for any situation. While the SS doesn’t get the Camaro’s optional dual-mode exhaust, there’s still plenty of feedback from the two massive pipes to announce your arrival to the neighborhood. It barks and pops like the large-displacement demon it is. The only demerit to the SS is its numb clutch pedal.
The Chevrolet SS is a mix of old school setup and modern engineering. It is, for all intents and purposes, a car that shouldn’t exist in this day in age. That’s makes the SS so appealing. It is the modern driving archetype of the American performance sedan. And the deepest irony of all is that the SS is an Australian-built and sourced car wearing a bowtie. With a year or two of production left, the SS is once experience you don’t want to miss. It deserves so much more than word-of-mouth advertising and Show ‘N Shine appreciation.
|2015 Chevrolet SS
|6-Speed Manual Transmission||N/C|
|3.70 Rear Axle Ratio||N/C|
|As Tested MSRP||$47,640|