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.

Read CarAdvice’s full coverage of the Holden VF Commodore.




  • Me so good

    You’re winner!

    • JoeR_AUS

      Yes it is, won its first NASCAR race, driver Kevin Harvick

  • filippo

    It’s funny the reaction to the lack of a manual transmission, in a country famous for automatics. 

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, maybe because like the majority of people that comment on this website are car enthusiasts its the same in the states but the majority of yanks will like the auto 

      • filippo

        I think it even goes beyond that. In the US you can buy a 6 speed manual Ford Focus or VW Golf TDI; in Australia you can’t. I’m sure there are other examples too. When I was last in Brooklyn I was actually surprised at how many manual cars I saw. The overwhelming majority were autos of course, but many Audis, BMWs, Porches and other euro cars were manual. 

        Like in Europe, I think that brands in the US give people a choice, whereas in Australia (where it’s tough to buy a car that isn’t a shade of grey) they try to make the model choice as narrow as possible. 

        • Bill Murray

           I think the best one is the BMW M5.  The E60 (V10) could be bought as a manual in the States, same as the new F10.  Nowhere else in the world can get it, just the US.

    • Darryl

      They do buy manuals in performance cars though. You can get a manual M5, (if you can afford the $90,000 ask)

    • Poison_Eagle

      1/ BMW offers the M5 in manual for the US only.
      2/ It adds to the sporting image of the car to just have it offered, otherwise its just a boulevard cruiser.
      Could it have something to do with the manual and auto having different emission numbers? Or does it say in the PR that Amerians only want auto?
      Maybe they intend to after the LT1 beomes available for the ’14 model year ;)

    • guest

       Some of the reaction is actually from those who’d never be buying the car anyhow – they’ve got old products like Pontiacs or others and don’t have the finances available to upgrade to a newer car. The lack of a manual transmission is just an excuse.

      For some also, it doesn’t have excess cladding, vents, scoops and huge wings, so they won’t buy it. That’s a bit less now that it is wearing a Chevrolet badge rather than Pontiac.

      The majority of people will just as happily take the automatic. And with a V8, it’s still plenty fast enough.

      • Gfsd

        I disagree with you. If you’ve ever been to Jalopnik, you’d know that plenty of the people there are car enthusiasts and they’ve always been fond of the Pontiac G8 and very much truly do appreciate manual cars – so no, lack of manual is not just “an excuse”, mmmk? The majority of normal Americans are not the target market for the car – they simply aren’t looking for a V8-engined car. So, car enthusiasts would be the most likely purchasers, but I don’t know if the majority of them would “happily” take the automatic.

    • Jkgh

       Americans buy a far higher proportion of manuals than we do.

      They buy manual Craprys, manual Accords (both normal and Euro Accord), manual Passats and not just the M5 in manual, the entire BMW 5 series range comes in manual over there. All these models have been avaliable as manuals in Australia in the past and the take up was virtually non existant.

      Seems odd that GM aren’t going to offer the manual in the USA given there is a manual here. That said, having the manual on offer here is a surprise though considering almost no one gets it.
      My old folks bought a used Crummer a few years back, I helped them look for examples and despite something like 5000 examples under 10 years old in the classifieds, we could not find a single manual wagon (apart from a few very expensive V8s).

      • David Salter

        V6 engined VE Commodore Wagons never came with a manual transmission. (Don’t know why).

        • Jkgh

          They weren’t looking at VEs. This was a few years back and they were looking at USED examples. All wagons prior to VX series 2 were officially offered as manual wagons in V6. Obviously the typical demographic that buy Crummers weren’t interested in manuals as we couldn’t find a single VT or VX wagon in manual for sale, so it’s not hard to see why they haven’t bothered offering it in VE. There weren’t exactly many manual V6 sedans around either.
          Yet there were a fair few manual Crapolla wagons, Astra wagons, Liberty/Outback wagons. I even remember coming across a E39 BMW 528i manual wagon for sale (sadly parents didn’t want it)).

          • Marc

            Even though you say that, very few VT – VXII V6 commodore wagons were produced as manual. I had my vin checked by holden and apparently it only was 1 of 100ish manufactured in 1998. And the only manual one ordered with that particular metallic red paint.

            Sadly after the VXII no manual V6 wagons were produced and even the SS manual wagons are extremely rare. There’s a guy who converted his VZ wagon to a 6 speed, but it cost him nearly 10k doing all the labour himself… I would be disappointed, but not surprised, if holden ditched the manual wagons completely for the VF.

            And a manual E39 wagon? That thing must be worth solid gold, haha.

  • Golfschwein

    Hadn’t noticed before that the instrument bezels hark back to the HT and HG. I like.

    • Darryl

      Glad it wasn’t the HK

  • ChopstaR87

    reading comments on “Autoblog” the american comsumer isnt happy with the look… too plain and bland for a Performance car.. also the only people that will buy this in the states are enthusiast, so a manual will matter for sales…. I think GM may have messed this up or maybe thats why only expecting a low sales for the car.

    • guest

       They always say that – most of the ones saying that would never have bought the car regardless of how it looked. These are also some of the same people who are raving about various snooze-mobile Buicks and the new Malibu.

      • Gfds

        Um, no – they are not the same people.

      • horsie

        its a shame the example car was silver. the most boring of all colours.
        Also every major update of the commodore gets this reaction . but it always grows on people when they  see it in the metal.

  • Sydlocal

    I just find it disappointing the the Yanks get HIDs in their SS and we don’t…

  • Shak

    CA pics of the Wagon and Ute are out. Just thought i’d let your team know seeing as it must’ve skipped your mind.

  • LC

    If all goes well with the export program it could very well mean that Aussie large cars have a place in the future. Well, for Holden at least :P

  • Zaccy16

    that guy must be looking at a different car if he thinks this looks like a c63 AMG !

    • nugsdad

       His labrador p!sses on both so he thought they must be similar

  • Loft86

    i saw lots of dodge chargers in the states recently and they smash the vf in the looks department.

    • Golfmother

      Yep this thing is so BLAND , man it will be a flop .

    • Robert Ryan

       Too bad not in driving dynamics.

      • Golfmother

        Flop all round still too heavy , oh mr fawlty we are going to take 200kg out , no only 40kg , no manuel , its a boat anchor .

        • 451

          who’s Manuel?

        • Poison_Eagle

           Whinge whinge whinge. Shudduppayoface, Giuseppe.

        • Dave W

          Here at GM, we took great pain shedding kilograms off our car so you don’t have to… though it would probably help.

        • Chad

          If this is such a boat anchor I guess it weighs a lot more than a similar sized car 5 series e series etc maybe you should give us some weights to back up your claim….

  • dave

    “claimed 0-100 in 5.0s” what BS, if the 325kw GTS (same engine as chev SS) cant do better than 5.4s with launch control and Tander (think this was the driver, it was a V8SC driver anyway) behind the wheel, no way can the 309kw SS with 40kg less weight do 5.0s.

    • dave

      sry would be more weight reduction than that but I’m still very skeptical. Seems like its all hype.

      • Golfmother

        YES  they blatted about a 200kg reduction , a joke .

        • Poison_Eagle

          Who did? Evidence? If you refuse to supply that, then you’re twice the desperado for writing about 200kg twice in the same article.

  • Dave W

    Interesting speculation from Car and Driver magazine. If the SS turn out to be a hot seller, why wouldn’t GM want to shift manufacturing to the US for the next update? It makes financial sense.

    Thing is, that means GM is using Australian tax payers money to cover part of, and therefore lower the development cost and then shift production somewhere else cheaper.

    If it’s true, I wonder how the Australian govt and public would react to that.

    • Daniel D

      If it goes to the US in the next model iteration, it wont be on the Zeta platform, so you need not worry about your tax dollars ($17 per person) being used in a constructive way post this model cycle, if that is your concern.

  • Dave S

    Still cant work out why they are not getting a Manual option. I know it is meant to be ‘sports luxury’ but when there is no extra cost involved, how could you go wrong? 

    • Daniel D

      Agreed. Even if after all the keyboard warriors only three buy a manual, it doesn’t make sense to not offer it. The can is already engineered for a manual transmission and it just stops all the whining about it. 

      If they are concerned they won’t sell any, make it a factory order only.

  • Carguy

    my xr6 Turbo is faster than that………..

    • Daniel D

      Yes and thats a great car, but it sure doesn’t look as good inside as this.

    • horsie

      May be. but there is nothing like the fun of a V8.

  • Roadtard

    Okay, so I’ve given it a few days, but VF really doesn’t work for me. The VE’s tough exterior has been softened and uglified to suit the US market and I’m not happy about it!