When the Chevrolet SS performance sedan was first announced, enthusiasts in the U.S. were still reeling from the loss of the Pontiac G8, which was GM’s answer to the Dodge Charger and helped bring four-door rear wheel-drive fun to the masses before it was axed as part of Pontiac’s closure in 2009. The SS helped mark the G8’s spiritual return to the U.S., but the lack of a manual transmission option was a constant criticism that dogged the SS since its launch in 2014. GM solved that issue earlier this year with the unveiling of a no-cost manual option for the 2015 Chevy SS Sedan, which also received Magnetic Ride Control suspension for its second year on the market. But does the addition of the stick make it a better car?
Motor Trend decided to tackle that very question by acquiring a model equipped with the manual transmission model and taking it through the publication’s regimen of on-road testing. What they discovered is that the manual is not only the better of the two transmissions available, but it also helps completely transform the overall driving experience of the SS, making it very close to the beloved Pontiac G8 GXP.
The folks at MT also loved the short throws and tight gear spacing of the transmission, and claimed the car is very close to the 2000-E39 era BMW M5 not only in terms of its fun to drive character, but also in terms of horsepower, with the SS’s LS3 V8 engine making 415 horsepower, only slightly ahead of the older BMW’s 400 horsepower. This is a very impressive set of accomplishments for the SS, especially when one considers how popular and capable that iteration of M5 was during its time in production.
What’s more, the manual option also sharpens the SS’s performance figures, shaving a 10th of a second from its 0-to-60 time, and a similar amount from its quarter mile time. Both are welcome news to enthusiasts, especially those that take their cars drag racing or prefer stoplight to stoplight races (in a closed environment, of course).
Overall the 2015 Chevy SS Performance Sedan appears to be a much better package for performance-minded buyers, but with the chances of a second-generation SS slowly fading away due to the closure of GM-Holden manufacturing as well as the associated end of production of the Commodore that serves as the basis for the Chevy SS Sedan, buyers may only have a limited amount of time to obtain this unique vehicle before the door of opportunity closes for good.