Our tame racing driver helps kicks off Evans's CarFest motor show...
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That looks strangely familiar.
As it should. It’s the Australian-built saloon brawler that we know in the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8 and the folk Down Under know and love as the Holden VF Commodore. It’s now being exported to the US as a spiritual successor to that budget four-door scorcher, the Chevy Impala SS.
Hang on, isn’t the Commodore known as the Pontiac G8 in the US?
It was. But when Pontiac got the chop from the GM family of brands, following its restructuring in 2010, the G8 went with it.
So is it exactly the same as the Vauxhall VXR8, just with Chevy SS badges on it?
No. This one doesn’t have the supercharger, the active damping and manual gearbox option. And a load of other details, which you’ll need to visit the two websites to check off one by one.
Can we call it a four-door Camaro?
Yes and no. Yes it rides on the same Australian-engineered Zeta platform as the Camaro, and the drivetrains are not dissimilar. But there are a few differences, such as the wheelbase and some ancillaries which make them substantially different.
What’s it offering that other cars aren’t?
In the one-spec-fits-all way that the SS is being sold in the US - the only two options are a sunroof and a full-size spare tyre - a tonne of space, tight handling and V8 performance at a price that is typically $10k less than European competitors.
OK, so what’s it like to drive then?
Neutral in a good way. The chassis, like the drivetrain, doesn’t feature the latest of anything but it’s been well set up to be compliant and offer the driver a good level of control. The ride is well damped and quiet, the steering accurate. And you can do vast rolling burnouts or skids at will. There’s a huge amount of space front and rear, a boot big enough to make a trailer redundant and a level of fit and finish that, like the rest of the car including its design and styling, is nothing exceptional but fine all the same. It’s just missing that last bit of excitement to make it really special.
Anything else I should know?
The SS is the model that GM uses as its entry in NASCAR, so you’ll see plenty of them filling your TV screen in the US most weekends. At the other end of the civility scale, it’s also the first Chevy to feature Automatic Parking Assist.
Worth buying one?
If you live in the US and want a big, high-value, saloon to get around anonymously with several passengers at high speed, the SS would be one of the top choices.
6,162cc, 8cyl, RWD, 415bhp, 562Nm, 21mpg, CO2 n/a, 0-60mph 4.9secs, 155mph, 1802kg