Just In: 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan with a NASCAR silhouette and a Corvette engine

Rear-drive sleeper joins our test fleet despite some seasonal challenges

Published: December 31, 2013 09:00 AM

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When General Motors announced that it would offer a rear-drive, full-sized sedan powered by a 415-hp, 6.2-liter Corvette V8, we had to start budgeting. While the Chevrolet SS may essentially be a homologation special for NASCAR, it is also the answer to our mourning the passing of the Pontiac G8 (another Australian import).

Part of my holiday shopping this year was to buy the SS for our test fleet. The purchase proved very straightforward, although the acquisition had some seasonal challenges.

Offered in limited volume its first year, the SS is both a rare and hot commodity. The dealers I spoke with claimed only 1,500 units would be offered. (Chevrolet told me more like 3,000 to 5,000—or about a third of the Malibus sold per month.) Making it harder to find the right one for our fleet, the SS is available in five colors, with just one being a magazine-friendly hue. The others (black, white, silver, and light green) wouldn’t pop off the pages or screen. At least the car is a one-size-fits-all model, with no trim levels and effectively no option packages.

The Chevrolet.com tool to search the inventory of local dealers made finding a Red Hot SS rather simple. I called dealers in my area shown to have a car, finding that there were other shoppers sniffing around. It wasn’t long before I found one at a convenient dealership who said the first customer to put a deposit gets the car. Whipping a credit card out, it was mine. The price was not negotiable. None of the dealers were about to haggle. But, at least there wasn’t a mark up, and I managed to dodge any extras, like VIN etching on the windows.

The base MSRP ($43,475) notched up a bit anyhow due to a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, power sunroof ($900), and spare tire ($500). Add $995 for destination charges, and the price landed at $47,170.

The next trial was picking it up. Two snow storms and scheduling conflicts on my part and that of my salesman added several days to the process, but it worked out fine.

As the salesman gave me a detailed walk-around of the car, I noticed that it was shod with the standard staggered 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19 rear summer tires. This was no surprise, but as we were surrounded by fresh, slushy snow in the parking lot, it struck me as rather unfortunate. When it came time to leave, it proved a significant challenge to drive the 50 or so feet in the dealership parking lot to the clear road. Finessing the wide, cold rubber through the muck, I truly wasn’t sure I could leave without a push. After seemingly clocking the car’s first mile—due to tire spin—in those 50 feet, I made it to the salted road and headed straight for our test track.

Spacious, powerful, and well dressed, the SS brought an instant smile as I made the trek. The various soft-touch and stitched surfaces impressed on the journey, and the controls are reminiscent of easy-to-use Impala. But, the ride was a bit stiff. I chalked it up to summer rubber on a cold day, but there was another reason.

Upon check-in, our shop technicians found that the dealership had not removed the spring blocks that are installed prior to shipping cars from the factory to the dealership. Given that the SS is imported all the way from Elizabeth, South Australia, such blocks protect the suspension during the voyage across the Pacific. With them removed, the car rides much better.

Right now, the team is looking for mild days to put the essential break-in miles on the SS. Given that winter has arrived, it will take us a few months to complete testing, and that is just fine by me. With this family-grade muscle car in the fleet, I’m in no rush.

Jeff Bartlett

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