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LS3 VF review

PIR4TE

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2014 Chevrolet SS: A Sleeper Really Wakes up on the Track
Written by: Elana Scherr on May 1 2014 4:32 PM


Driving the 2014 Chevrolet SS is like meeting some boring middle manager for a lunch date and finding out they take part in those strong man competitions where flabby-looking men and women lift tree trunks over their heads and pull city buses with ropes of their own hair. Its performance far exceeds the mild promises of its exterior.

Of course, when I was offered the chance to try out the SS on track at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, I should have been prepared for its tire-smoking, corner-chomping abilities. HRM staffer Brandan Gillogly called it “a four-door Camaro” in his 2014 Chevy SS first drive story back in 2013, and he meant it as a compliment.

Chevrolet campaigns the SS in NASCAR, the only factory entry that’s anything close in real life to its rear-wheel drive race configuration. The course we’d be driving at Sonoma wasn’t the NASCAR version, but we’d be covering some of the same ground as the pros, and I had to remind myself that rubbin’ isn’t racin’ at a track day. Helping me evaluate the Chevy’s track manners was friend of HOT ROD, and occasional tire tester, Kevin Wesley.

The SS looked a little out of place surrounded by Mustangs and Ferraris, but it held its own.

Kevin liked the understated looks of the SS as soon as we saw it, pointing out the flared front fenders and describing it as “basic and to the point.” My first impressions of the SS were less than overwhelming. The exterior design sure is basic, basic “Car,” and I wouldn’t look twice if I saw one on the street. Open the door though (any of them) and the interior will slap you in the face for thinking the SS was just some bland-o commuter box sent to torment you by cruising at 55 in the fast lane. Leather and something suede-like intermingle on big, fashionable, adjustable buckets in the front, and the multi-material and contrast stitching carries through to a roomy back seat offering plenty of leg room, even for adults. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and paddle-shifty, and the leather carries down to the traditional shifter as well. The 2014 is only available with the 6L80 six-speed automatic, but Motor Trend has hinted that a six-speed manual might be coming for the 2015 Chevrolet SS. That’s good news both for those who will actually buy a stick-shift car, and the vast majority who simply like to complain about the looming extinction of the three-pedal.

She with the best helmet goes first. Also, nice seats.

We drew straws to see who would go out first, and by that I mean, I grabbed the keys and left Kevin in the parking lot. With my limited track experience, and on the unfamiliar-to-me Sonoma Raceway, I can’t say I set any blistering lap times, but the sedan felt light and willing. I knew I wasn’t in a sports car, but it certainly wasn’t squiggling around like the jello-salad I had been expecting. The dual exhaust made it sound really good on-throttle, almost beefy enough to imagine we were in NASCAR trim, catching air over the berms in the chicane.

Kevin took it out for the second session, and came back full of positive reviews. “I was expecting an understeering pig with an automatic I wouldn’t like,” he said, “but it’s surprisingly very neutral and I really like the paddle shift transmission. I had to be quick on the 1-2 shift, but other than that it really shifted very nicely. The little electronic rev match (on downshift) was cool. It’s very easy to rotate and toss into the corners. It definitely wanted to go faster than the tires that were on it, and the suspension was slightly floaty. If I were going to make this a track car, I’d have to put on stickier tires and more aggressive brake pads. Maybe some adjustable struts that you could dial in for track days. I wouldn’t slam it on the ground with coilovers. You need to keep the ability to drive the car every day and just drive it to the track on the weekends.”

While Kevin and I were discussing the track aptitude of the SS, one of the corner workers came over for a closer look. “Is this the Impala SS?” he asked. “Just the SS,” we answered, and he said it looked good on the track. A few minutes later one of the other drivers came over somewhat sheepishly. He’d been in a McLaren, and wanted to figure out how Kevin had passed him in a sedan. I think he was hoping it was supercharged or heavily modified. A glance at the naturally aspirated 415hp 6.2L LS3, and 245/35-19 street tires sent him back to his turbocharged 600hp supercar with a little less swagger than he started out with.


How much more miserable would the McLaren owner be if he knew that the SS is even more satisfying on the street? The visibility is very good, the interior is as comfortable as it looks and if you get the urge to shake up the neighborhood a bit, satisfying burnouts are just a traction-control-off button away.

So who is the SS for? It’s not cheap, with a starting price of $43,475, and a nasty gas guzzler tax added on as punishment for eight cylinders worth of amusement. It’s quick for sure, and comfortable, but you’d get more attention, and more horsepower in Chrysler’s SRT 300, or even a Charger. Neither of the Pentastars though, can match the SS on weigh-in day, and you really can feel the benefit of being under 4000 pounds when it comes time to turn a corner, or even nab a clear spot in the next lane in Northern California’s evil traffic jams. We’d say the happiest buyer for the SS would be someone who wants a Camaro, but is being forced to compromise for family or business reasons. Basically, it’s the perfect car for a middle manager with a secretly exciting life.

Read more: 2014 Chevrolet SS: A Sleeper Really Wakes up on the Track - Hot Rod Magazine Blog
Follow us: @HotRodMagazine on Twitter | HotRodMag on Facebook[/QUOTE]
 
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lmoengnr

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Paddle shifters. C'mon VF-II (that's assuming I don't give in a go grab a S1 this weekend!)
 

426Cuda

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Would like a set of those seats!
Had a look around one of these a few months ago at Omeo ( Vic ). Same seats as Commodore, different covers. Too bling for my taste.
 
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