You could be forgiven for looking at the Chevrolet SS and thinking it's just a sportier Malibu, but if you watched this year's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you'll recognize it as the pace car and Chevrolet's marquee ride in NASCAR. The SS is capable of carrying five adults in full-size comfort, but can also run full-out at The Brickyard as if was born there. It wasn't, and that's a longer story.
The SS isn't really a Chevrolet at all - it's a facelifted clone of the Holden Commodore from GM's Australian subsidiary. Further, it shares basic architecture with the 2015 Camaro and is essentially and advanced version of the discontinued Pontiac G8. All that really matters is Chevrolet offers a very unique rear-drive sport sedan that can take it to competitors around the globe - from under the globe.
It's far from an ugly car, breaking air with a twin-port Chevy grille and glimmering with HID headlamps and LED running lights. Stand back, and the sedan takes on a very European, almost BMWish design with bulging wheelwells, 19" alloys, Brembo disc brakes, and chiseled hood. Around back, quad taillamps, decklid spoiler, and twin exhausts mean business. Its stealth look is appealing, even if it won't boil testosterone.
Befitting a car that's at the high end of the Chevrolet range, the SS has a sophisticated cabin highlighted by suede, perforated leather, and red dash stitching. Heated and ventilated leather sport seats are both comfy and supportive. Rear passengers can ride comfortably for days, but there are no cupholders for them. Back up front, a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, reconfigurable color heads-up display, Bose audio, and Bluetooth delight driver and passengers alike.
An array of sensors allows the SS near magical powers. To enhance safety, the car has Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems. Looking for a parallel parking spot? Press the console button, drive slowly by spots, and the car will find one that fits before backing in hands-free. Take all of your mobile devices along for the ride while connecting through the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Open the hood to find something you can't get in a Malibu or Impala - a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 415 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels. A six-speed automatic transmission is available, but I prefer the six-speed manual in our test car. It has a stiff clutch and firm shifter throw, but is up to the task of handling all that power and torque. If you're looking for fantastic fuel economy, skip the SS. It achieves just 15/21-MPG city/hwy.
But, the SS is far more than a sleeper sedan with a big engine. Engineers worked to get a 50/50 weight balance to enhance the car's handling and chose big Brembo disc brakes, but the real magic is the Magnetic Ride Control - essentially the same system used by Cadillac and Corvette. When the shocks are electrified, metallic particles-in-fluid align to stiffen the suspension in real time. A knob in the console lets drivers tune the chassis for Touring (comfortable, but not flabby), Sport (best for all-around driving), or Performance (get it to a track).
It was a convoluted path to get a Holden to the U.S. as a Chevrolet, but the SS is the best car almost nobody has heard of despite being one of the greatest GM cars of all time. Imagine if they had called it "Chevelle" and marketed the heck out of it! The SS can travel great distances as a full-size luxury car, race for pinks as a blisteringly-quick muscle car, or lap the Indianapolis Motor Speedway like it was born for the honor. If you like the SS, get one soon as GM is scheduled to cease production in Australia by 2017. There may never be another.
Expect to pay at least $45,745 or $47,640 as-tested for a car that competes with vehicles as varies as the Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus SHO, BMW M5, Audi S4, and Hyundai Genesis.
Be sure to check out Casey's video review of the 2016 Chevy SS.
2015 Chevrolet SS
- Five-passenger, RWD Sedan
- Powertrain: 415hp 6.2-liter V8, 6-spd manual trans
- Suspension f/r: elect. ind/ind
- Wheels: 19"/19" alloy f/r
- Brakes: Brembo disc/disc fr/rr
- Must-have features: Technology, Performance
- Fue economy: 15/21-MPG city/hwy
- Assembly: Elizabeth, South Australia
- Base/as-tested price: $45,745/$47,640
Follow auto correspondent Casey Williams on Twitter: @AutoCasey