I just love this thumping V8. It revs, has plenty of power and is really, really, smooth. The six-speed manual is a nice match, working for comfortable soft-shift cruising or hard driving. The car jumps off the line and midrange power is impressive, as is the ride/handling mix, not floaty by any means but not too harsh for Detroit. The steering feels crisp and well weighted, and there's satisfying feedback available through the wheel. The car actually feels surprisingly light on its feet and drives smaller than it is. “Civilized but not desensitized in any notable fashion,” is how we put it on autoweek.com.
We also said the balance might be the best thing of all, and I concur -- “consistent competence of the drivetrain, chassis, and overall dynamics.” Put the center console knob in tour and you can just cruise around town. Twist over to performance mode, and the ride stiffens up nicely and the car is even wieldier.
The cabin is simple and well laid out and I liked the red contrast stitching and flat-bottom steering wheel. The front buckets feel good. One thing bugged me mightily: the collision warning system. It went off a bunch over my weekend with the car. I thought it was overly sensitive. Can we turn it off?
A 6.2 liter V8 is the one and only engine in the 2015 Chevrolet SS.PHOTO BY CHEVROLET
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I only had one night in the SS, so I didn’t have too much of chance to put it through its paces, just few commutes to and from work.
I had the car in either sport or performance mode most of the time, which made it feel pretty stiff. A few of the potholes I regularly roll over banged noisily in the cabin. Body roll was well controlled and steering was suitably tight in all modes. Looking at the spec sheet, it has an electric power steering setup, which makes its heft and good feel even more surprising.
Power from the V8 comes on smooth and stays smooth, without any peaks or valleys in torque. Spinning the tires is just a matter of slipping the clutch a little faster than usual, but the traction control will always keep you in line, as long as it’s activated. There are several modes for that, by the way, from full-on to full-off.
The clutch pedal was a little hard to modulate; the effort was good, though. It took a little practice to engage smoothly at slow speeds. At high speeds, however, no problems: just jam it and ram it.
There’s something about the styling of the SS that I’m not quite into. I can’t put my finger on it. The front three-quarter view looks great, though I’d like a little less chrome, the rear three-quarter view bugs me though, it looks too high or something.
There are a lot of sedans out there for $47,000. You can get a Charger R/T Scat Pack, a well-equipped 300C, probably even a cheap BMW 5-series. This one offers a manual trans, though, which is always a bonus. I do like the SS, but I’d probably go with the Charger first. The basic R/T only sets you back $33,295. Hell, you could install a manual transmission with all the money you save.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Can't put your finger on it, eh Jake? Let me help you. For all its mechanical attributes (and there are many) the Chevy SS looks a bit hillbilly. It's the modern equivalent of an "Intimidator Edition" Monte Carlo. (Yes!) I'm not judging -- the style appeals to many buyers, but you're never going to see it on the streets of Manhattan or Los Angeles, and the heavy chrome and jacked-up rear are off-putting to many staffers here.
Unfortunately for Chevy, the kind of buyers to whom SS styling appeals are often of modest means, and a $50,000 sedan isn't an option for many. Those who do have the money may not be able to find a car for sale -- limited exports, particularly of the new stick-shift model we have here, mean very limited supplies on dealer lots. That combination means SS sales are running about 300 units a month -- less than 10 percent of Corvette sales, for comparison's sake.
So, let's assume you have the cash, and the styling works for you. You've found a manual transmission SS on a dealer lot in rural North Carolina. What should you expect when you climb behind the wheel?
Four-door Corvette is the easy comparison, but the two machines don't really share anything except V8 rumble and blistering performance. The SS really behaves more like a domestic interpretation of the BMW M3. It's quick without being overpowered, easy to place in the corners and extraordinarily communicative through the tires and wheels. But the SS also offers lots of interior space, great rear legroom and a truly massive trunk, making it easy to live with for folks who need an actual car to go along with their performance -- again, attributes the M3 also has.
Ironically, my only drivability comments stem directly from the manual transmission: The clutch is very springy but quick to grab, making for a weird feel at first (but one that becomes second nature after a few dozen miles). Also, skip-shift makes an appearance, forcing 1-to-4 gear changes at certain speed/throttle positions. You can trick the mechanism, but at the expense of a sluggish 1-2 shift; alternately, you can launch like John Force from every light, which will prevent skip-shift from engaging but drop your gas mileage into the single digits -- exactly what skip-shift is supposed to prevent. Ah, progress.
I suppose the real story here is that if you dig the proto-stock car look and you prefer your sports sedans to come from a domestic manufacturer, you actually have an option today -- Chevrolet has a fantastic car that's technically available. From what we hear, though, you'll have to work to find the one you want, though we're sure a dealer will be happy to show you something in a nice Impala LTZ instead.
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