We’ve always thought that the Australian car market is what the US car market was in the ‘60s, but 50 years later. Unlike us Yanks, the Aussies still love large sedans, rear-wheel-drive, and manual transmissions. And though the poor Bruces don’t get Mustangs, they do get the Holden Commodore, GM’s full-size sedan. And now, thanks to the Chevy SS, we get it, too.
Actually, our shores have seen a previous generation of the Commodore in recent years. Remember the Pontiac G8, the muscle car pretending to be a Chevy Impala? It wasn’t enough to save Pontiac from the people shedding GM’s weight during the financial crises, but it was brilliant nonetheless. More recently we’ve seen the Commodore as the Chevy Caprice Police vehicle. (Caprice Police…just say it a few times until they look at you funny).
But thankfully, you won’t have to wear a badge to get the next SS, and since Chevy doesn’t show any signs of capsizing soon, it will be around for a while. Hopefully. The new SS is a RWD muscle sedan, so it might catch some Americans off guard. Seriously, folks, we’re at least as tough as Australia, right? It will be the first RWD performance sedan Chevy’s built in 16 years- since the ‘96 Imapala SS.
Like all Aussie sedans, the styling is reserved and tame. Down Under there, they also sell efficient, V6 family versions of the Commodore, so muscle sedans end up being sleepers. We’re okay with this. It’s proportionally balanced, its high shoulder belying its RWD platform. Our only gripe is with the strange mismatch of the upper and lower grilles, as if the designer was low on time, so he subbed out the lower half to a colleague.
Still, it’s a small thing, and it doesn’t ruin the car. No, really, if you don’t forgive the grille, the engine will punch you in the throat. It’s a 6.2 liter LS3 that produces 415 hp and 415 pounding feet of torque. It’s enough to slide the circa two-ton sled up to 60 in about 5 seconds. This slots the SS comfortably between the 5.7 and 6.4 Hemi versions of the Charger, the latter making 470 hp.
So unbiased buyers might need a little extra something to nudge them toward the SS. Something enthusiasts love. Something the Charger has never even had. Got it: a manual transmission. It’s no problem for GM, because the Aussie version comes with a manual, and unlike with moving the steering wheel to the other side of the car, engineers don’t have to change so much as a shift knob.
Sadly, they won’t offer the SS with a manual here in the states. Something about gleaning the inside of a cube. No, we don’t get it, either. If you drive an automatic in Australia you’re strung up by your BVDs. We’ve decided we’re going to start visiting the Renaissance Center daily, each time with a new manly thing to do until we prove to GM that we’re as tough as the brumbies. Then, maybe, we’ll get our six-speed. Chewing razor blades? Barefist boxing? We’re open to suggestions.
Or perhaps you’ll have to buy a NASCAR team. The SS has been chosen as the new spec racer for the Sprint Cup, replacing the Gen V Car of Tomorrow. Finally the stock cars will almost sort of resemble stock cars again. This is cool.
What do you think of the new SS? Is it a good successor to the SS legacy? Does it matter that you can’t row your own? How does it look as a NASCAR platform?
Images courtesy Chevrolet