We’d barely left the parking spot before the Chevrolet SS had us saying, “That’s the stuff.” Push in the clutch, lift off the throttle for your first shift, and the 415-hp LS3 V-8 crackles through the tailpipes on the overrun.
Yes, we said clutch. The lack of a manual and the car’s limited availability were our top complaints about the 2014 SS. Production volume is still low, but the Tremec six-speed manual (a no-cost option) further tailors this large, rear-drive sedan to the driver of serious intent. And choosing the manual avoids the gas-guzzler tax. While the stick comes with a 3.70:1 final drive versus the automatic’s 3.27:1 ratio, its 1-4 skip-shift function during light acceleration adds 1 mpg to the EPA city-mileage rating.
Other goodies: Last year’s well-tuned suspension improves with standard Magnetic Ride Control, and rear brakes now come from Brembo, just like the fronts.
The SS arrives fully equipped at its $46,740 base price, but if you insist, Chevy will cut a $900 hole in the roof. We’d rather spend that money on an aftermarket solution to blot out the excess chrome.
Five new colors include the “Perfect Blue” on our test car and “Alchemy Purple,” suggesting that Chevy has its eye on the Dodge Charger’s palette of Candy Crush colors. In a head-to-head comparo [“Rain Supreme,” January 2014], we chose the balanced SS over the quicker Charger.
The onset of winter in November made it tough to warm up the summer Bridgestone Potenzas, but we saw strong track numbers. The run to 60 took only 4.6 seconds; the quarter-mile took 13.0. The automatic is a tenth of a second quicker in both measures because it’s easier to launch and lifting off the throttle isn’t necessary during shifts. That said, both the stick and the automatic clock 111 mph through the quarter.
Braking from 70 mph used 159 feet, an excellent performance, though six feet more than the SS we tested a year ago. But the pedal feels good, the brakes are easily modulated, and there was no fade. The skidpad result improved to 0.97 g (from 0.95), which is frankly stunning for a four-door.
This Holden-built Chevy is more than a muscle car; it’s a 21st-century sports sedan. Not as tossable as the Camaro, it nevertheless handles similarly. There’s plenty of power to kick the tail around and play NASCAR-racer-at-the-Glen, but, when you calm down, it’ll carry four adults in comfort.
It’s not perfect. Nonlinear clutch take-up annoys, and we found the electric-assist steering too light on-center. But on balance, the SS reminds us of the landmark E39 BMW M5 in ways that current BMWs don’t. We said the same about the Pontiac G8, and the SS is better for GM’s ongoing evolution of this platform. We know someone’s listening because there’s a manual now, which raises the question: When’s the Vette’s LT1 V-8 coming?
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