The Holden VF Commodore has largely been met with design approval by Australia’s automotive media and the country’s enthusiast base following its unveiling, but what has the US reaction been like to its sister car, the Chevrolet SS?
The left-hand-drive Chevrolet SS was unveiled to the US media last weekend at Daytona sporting a unique 6.2-litre LS3 V8 engine, subtle exterior design tweaks and bespoke touches to the cabin ahead of its late-2013 launch.
Leading automotive publication Motor Trend said the SS “almost has a Mercedes C63 AMG look to it”, and praised the car’s “low-set HID headlamps and low-mounted LED running lamps” and “rather shapely rear end”.
It went on to say the SS “could very well be the start of something special for the bowtie brand”.
“Here’s hoping GM gives it more than two years to find its niche.”
Consumer Reports said Holden was known for “creating powerful, great-handling sport sedans and coupes”, and as such expected the SS to boast the “character of a well-honed, Euro-influenced sport sedan with a generous dose of American muscle thrown in … in stark contrast with the mid-sized Malibu”.
It says the Chevrolet SS is further proof that “despite high gasoline prices, this is the golden age of the muscle car”.
“Never has so much performance and refinement been available in a domestic-brand car than is offered today by Chrysler, Ford, and GM.
“It will be interesting to see how enthusiasts embrace the SS when it goes on sale in late 2013.”
Left-field blog Jalopnik expressed its disappointment that the Chevrolet SS will not be available with the option of a manual transmission, but admitted “aside from that little disappointment, the car sounds pretty top-shelf”.
The New York Times, however, has question marks about America’s acceptance of an Australian-made performance sedan.
“Whether American consumers care is mostly unknown: The list of Australian-built cars sold in the United States is short and not particularly distinguished.”
Car and Driver magazine opened with praise for the new model, suggesting that General Motors’ bankruptcy maybe be looked back on as a blessing in disguise in years to come thanks to the emergence of cars like the Chevrolet SS.
“This car is an amalgam of a once-revered nameplate (SS) and one of the best cars developed by pre-Chapter 11 GM, the [VE Commodore-based] Pontiac G8.”
It was also disappointed by the lack of a manual option, however, and Chevrolet’s failure to upgrade the engine with fuel saving measures such as direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation as feature in the new Chevrolet Corvette.
Car and Driver also added to the growing speculation that the Australian import program will be short-lived, expecting Chevrolet to build its own replacement for the SS when an all-new model is due in the second half of this decade.
“The SS is essentially a spear aimed at the hearts of the Chrysler 300 SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, and Ford Taurus SHO, but it’s a stopgap measure. That could change in a couple of years when the production baton is expected to pass from GM’s Elizabeth, Australia, plant to a US assembly facility, and the heavy, elderly underpinnings of the old platform are replaced by a new large rear-drive platform engineered to serve under Chevrolet, Cadillac, and possibly Buick flagships.
“Meanwhile, for our role in pulling GM back from the abyss, we tax-paying enthusiasts deserve this street-fighting SS with LT1 power and a stick shift.”
The reaction from commenters on US websites has also been revealing. While praise has come for its rear-wheel-drive layout, stylistic improvement over the Impala and claimed 5.0-second 0-100km/h ability, many have dismissed its design as bland, and expressed disappointment in its low-tech LS3 V8 and Chevy’s failure to offer a manual transmission option.