By Don Sikora II
Note: The following story was excerpted from the April 2016 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
When considering the 2014-16 Chevrolet SS as a future collectible, it’s impossible to ignore the one-year-and-out 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP that we looked at back in the October 2010 issue of Collectible Automobile. Killed off like all Pontiacs in the wake of General Motors’s 2009 bankruptcy filing, the 415-horsepower GXP was the highest-performance variant of Pontiac’s new-for-2008 G8 based on GM’s Holden Commodore VE from Australia.
Commodore production continued with versions of the car sold as Chevrolets in international markets. Around the time that Holden confirmed an updated Commodore VF model in 2013, GM issued word that a variant would come to America as the 2014 Chevrolet SS.
In the States, Chevrolet had been selling a long-wheelbase Commodore spin-off as the police-only Caprice PPV (Police Pursuit Vehicle) since 2011. However, like the departed G8, the new SS was based on the standard-length rear-wheel-drive Commodore. Thus it rested on a 114.8-inch wheelbase and was 195.5 inches long.
Americans were only offered well-equipped SS sedans priced from $44,470. The lone powerteam was a 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission. The suspension paired MacPherson struts up front with an independent multilink set-up out back. Brembo front brakes and forged 19-inch alloy wheels wearing sticky Bridgestone rubber were part of the deal too.
Exterior styling closely followed the updated Commodore. High-intensity-discharge headlamps and LED daytime running lights were standard. The hood and trunklid were aluminum to save a bit of weight. The nine-inch-wide rear wheels were .5-inch wider than the fronts, and wore bigger rubber. Five colors were available: Silver Ice Metallic, Red Hot 2, Phantom Black Metallic, Heron White, and Mystic Green Metallic.
All interiors had black leather upholstery and eight-way power front buckets. A Bose stereo was standard, along with Chevy’s MyLink infotainment and touch-screen navigation. A power sunroof was one of the car’s few options.
Road & Track tested an SS for its February 2014 issue, reporting a 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds and a quarter-mile dash of 12.9 seconds at better than 110 mph. R&T liked the balanced handling, and said the car “feels like an American version of the BMW M5.” Gripes centered on the body’s reserved styling and chrome accents.
The 2015 SS received GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension and rear Brembo brakes as standard. Perhaps the biggest news was that a six-speed manual transmission packaged with a more aggressive 3.70:1 axle ratio joined the order sheet. New metallic colors were on an expanded palette, including Perfect Blue, Some Like it Hot Red, Alchemy Purple, Jungle Green, and Regal Peacock Green.
Chevy gave the 2016 SS a subtle styling update with a new front fascia and functional hood vents. The 19-inch wheels were switched to cast units instead of forged. There was also a new dual-mode exhaust system that allowed a throatier sound at full throttle. Slipstream Blue Metallic paint was added to the color list, and Perfect Blue and Alchemy Purple were dropped.
GM has announced that it will stop making cars in Australia by the end of 2017. In September 2015, Australian outlet CarsGuide reported that GM Asia-Pacific boss Stefan Jacoby confirmed the Chevrolet SS would be phased out and not directly replaced when production of the V8-powered Commodore ends.
• This import from Down Under does a fine job combining the best qualities of European sport sedans and with the classic American traits of size and V-8 muscle.
• Bold, unexpected color choices.
• So far, total SS sales are fewer than 6000 units.
• From what we hear, it’s not easy to find a stickshift SS.
• Subtle styling lacks visual punch.
• Bench racers may bemoan that the SS spots Dodge’s attention-grabbing Charger Hellcat nearly 300 ponies.
The modern-day reincarnation of Chevrolet’s well-regarded Nineties Impala SS, the Aussie-built SS impresses with gobs of small-block V8 muscle and well-sorted handling. Relatively affordable rear-drive V8 sedans are a fast-fading breed, and this one faces extinction after 2017. For the full experience, we’d search out one in a vivid color with the six-speed manual gearbox.