It’s been what Chevy performance enthusiasts have been demanding for years: a rear-wheel drive performance sedan. That’s what the Chevy SS is — and it marks Chevrolet’s return to the V8 RWD performance segment after 17 years (from 1996). The vehicle, designed to deliver performance on the street as well as on the track, makes its premier this weekend at the Dayton International Speedway, along with the SS NASCAR racer, during the Daytona 500.
As expected, the SS rides on the short-wheelbase Zeta architecture developed by GM-Holden. The proven, race-tested architecture serves as the bones for the Camaro and the Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle, along with Holden’s VF Commodore and Caprice.
If there’s one area about which GM enthusiasts were uncertain, it was SS’ powertrain. Well, the car will officially be powered by the familiar 6.2 liter V8 (LS3) mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. That’s right — no manuals were announced (yet).
The dynamic duo is expected to deliver a symmetrical 415 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. The same engine can be found in the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro SS, but Chevy is quick to point out that the engine is more powerful than the 5.5 liter V8 powering the SS NASCAR.
For those who prefer to paddle their way to higher (or lower) speed, the SS features steering wheel-mounted TAPshift paddles. The final-drive ratio is 3.27, and a 0-60 sprint can be accomplished in roughly five seconds.
According to Chevrolet, the SS’ chassis allows it to turn and stop as well as it accelerates. Among the features are:
- MacPherson strut front and multilink independent rear suspension geometry
- Electronic power steering system, optimized for sport driving
- Standard Brembo brakes with ventilated 355 mm rotors and two-piece, four-piston front calipers
- Forged aluminum wheels wrapped in ultra-high-performance Bridgestone tires: 19 x 8.5 inch wheels with 245/40ZR19 tires in front; 19 x 9.0 inch wheels with 275/35ZR19 tires rear
The SS’ handling is further improved by a near 50/50 weight distribution, along with a low center of gravity that’s made possible by the aluminum hood and rear deck lid — which are 30 [percent lighter than traditional steel panels.
“Our goal was to create a car that delivers incredible grip and handling balance while cornering, while still being comfortable to drive on the road,” said David Leone, executive chief engineer GM global programs. “The perfect weight balance and lower center of gravity were a big part of that goal because it enabled the team to tune for a more comfortable highway ride without sacrificing handling or driver confidence while cornering at the limits.”
A performance sedan may not be taken seriously if it doesn’t also look the part. So the exterior of the SS features a sporty and muscular stance, with staggered front and rear wheels pushed out to the corners. Specific design elements include:
- “Power bulge” on the aluminum hood
- Tapered, tear-drop shape of the rear end that helps aerodynamics
- Jewel-like chrome accents
- Standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lights
“From every angle, the Chevrolet SS says power and performance,” said John Cafaro design director Chevrolet passenger cars and small crossovers. “The combination of an aggressive rear-wheel drive stance and body-side attitude with the right balance of detail and refinement inside and out are the perfect home for Chevrolet’s V-8 performance package.”
Just like the Holden Commodore, the Chevy SS offers a spacious cabin that can comfortably swallow five adults. Some interior highlights include:
- 42 inches of front legroom
- 39 inches of rear legroom
- Standard leather seating surfaces
- Standard eight-way power adjustable front bucket seats with additional side bolstering
- SS emblem is prominently stitched onto the instrument panel. Available in two types of chrome finishes — a satin gloss and a bright chrome — the dash is soft to the touch
- The cabin is illuminated by ice blue ambient lighting during the night
- The integrated center stack contains infotainment, climate, and other vehicle controls.
Meanwhile, the SS performance sedan offers a wide assortment of standard technology features, including:
- Color in-dashboard touch screen that supports Chevrolet MyLink and the next-generation navigation system
- Bose Nine-speaker premium sound system
- Color heads-up display
- Push-button start
- StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control
- Forward Collision Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear-vision camera
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
The SS also lets the driver give it all on the track, without having to worry about saving energy (or dedicating any attention to) parking the car. So on the way home from the track, as he stops by the local Nieman-Marcus for a pair of Perry Ellis slacks, the driver can simply let the SS park itself thanks to the Automatic Parking Assist system — a first for Chevrolet.
Utilizing ultrasonic sensors to detect the width and depth of either parallel or reverse right-angle parking spaces, the system makes use of ultrasonic sensors. All the driver needs to do is to control the throttle, transmission, and brake — while the Automatic Parking Assist controls the steering inputs necessary to park the vehicle.
Coinciding with the market release of its trans-continental brother with the Roaring Lion badge, the 2014 Chevrolet SS will make its market debut in the fourth quarter of 2013. General Motors will set prices “closer to the on-sale date.
The performance sedan brings the rear-wheel drive Chevy performance story full-circle, joining the Corvette and Camaro. Combined, the two Chey-badged two-door sports cars have made Chevy the best-selling performance brand for the last two years in the United States.
2014 Chevy SS Specifications
|Body style / driveline:||front-engine, rear-drive|
|Construction:||unitized body structure and frame; two-sided galvanized steel (except roof)|
|EPA vehicle class:||large|
|Manufacturing location:||Elizabeth, Australia|
|Engine:||6.2L OHV V-8|
|Displacement (cu in / cc):||376 / 6162|
|Bore & stroke (in / mm):||4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92|
|Block material:||cast aluminum w/ cast-in-place iron bore liners|
|Cylinder head material:||aluminum|
|Valvetrain:||overhead valve; two valves per cylinder; roller lifters|
|Ignition system:||coil-near-plug ignition|
|Fuel:||sequential fuel injection|
|Horsepower (hp/ kW @ rpm):||415 / 309 @ 5900|
|Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):||415 / 563 @ 4600|
|Fuel:||premium recommended not required|
|Transmission:||Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic with TapShift|
|Front:||multi-link MacPherson strut; direct-acting stabilizer bar; progressive-rate coil springs; fully adjustable camber, caster and toe|
|Rear:||four-link independent; progressive-rate coil springs over shocks; stabilizer bar; fully adjustable camber and toe|
|Steering type:||electric power|
|Rotor diameter x thickness (mm):||355 x 32|
|Rotor diameter x thickness (mm):||324 x 22|
|Wheel size and type|
|19 x 8.5-inch forged, fully polished aluminum (front)||19 x 9-inch forged, fully polished aluminum (rear)|
|P245/40R19 (front)||P275/35R19 (rear)|
|Wheelbase (in / mm):||114.8 / 2916|
|Overall length (in / mm):||195.6 / 4968|
|Overall width (in / mm):||74.8 / 1899|
|Overall height (in / mm):||58.7 / 1490|
|Track (in / mm):||front: 62.6 / 1590 (front) & 63.3 / 1608 (rear)|
|Legroom (in / mm):||42.3 / 1074 (front)||39.7 / 1008 (rear)|