Chevrolet SS first drive reviewMotor News Motor Reviews New Car Reviews
There's plenty of Aussies making a name for themselves in Hollywood at the moment, big stars such as Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Chris Hemsworth.
Today there is another about to tread the boards of tinseltown, and while it might not play any starring roles in blockbuster flicks there's a lot riding on the success of this latest Aussie export.
It’s the Holden-built Chevrolet SS, which recently went on sale in the United States. It is the third time Holden has been given a chance to crack it in one of the world's largest car markets, following the Monaro-based Pontiac GTO and, later, the four-door G8. Both were considered characterful and muscular enough yet were flawed in some key areas - price, interior quality and the Pontiac brand among them.
Chevrolet SS in Hollywood
Chevrolet SS in the US.
This time, there's nothing holding it back as Holden's VF upgrade offers significant advances in cabin ambience and equipment and it is better value than before.
Despite that, Chevrolet is more circumspect in terms of how many it can sell in the US, partly so as not to upset its Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating, which could add massive taxes.
That may be a smart business decision, but if the reaction we had during a day behind the wheel of a Chevy SS in Los Angeles earlier this week is any gauge then Chevy might have issues satisfying demand.
From the canyon roads out the back of Hollywood, through the ultra-exclusive boulevards of Beverly Hills and down to trace the water's edge along the Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica, I can't count how many times I saw other drivers craning their necks to see what it was, and had more than a few roll down their windows at the traffic lights and ask "what's under the hood?".
That is a positive sign for Holden, particularly in a city where status is often derived from what you drive.
As for how it drives, there's not too many surprises as it feels just like a VF Commodore SS Redline but with the steering wheel on the wrong side and bowtie badges plastered all over it.
That is at normal pace (which is pretty much everywhere in LA), but it does have some unique character traits when you give it the berries, like on the twisty canyon roads. First of all, it has noticeably bigger lungs with a slightly more gruff exhaust note thanks to America's less stringent noise regulations and, secondly, it has noticeably more top-end punch as it is powered by a 310kW/563Nm version of HSV's 6.2-litre V8, as also used in other hot Chevys such as the Camaro SS and last-gen Corvette.
The six-speed automatic also has steering wheel paddle shifters, which are nice to use when you're belting through the back country, but are otherwise unnecessary for everyday driving.
Otherwise, just like the VF Commodore, its electric steering is well-weighted with good on-centre feel, the top-shelf Brembo brakes are progressive yet have plenty of it when needed and the combination of its stiffer “FE3” suspension and staggered tyre widths provides enough grip and traction for it to be fast and predictable when pushed hard, but - more importantly for good 'ol muscle car fans - there's more than enough grunt so that it could easily be provoked into smokey burnouts and lurid powerslides.
The Americans have been calling out for a four-door Corvette for decades, and this is as close as they'll ever get. Let's hope they lap it up...
The reality is, though, it might just be the right car - for both Holden and Chevy - but a little too late.
Nuts and Bolts
Engine: 6.2-litre V8
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-drive