You’ll enjoy the sounds of a 415-horsepower Corvette-based LS3 V8 . . . the 2013 Corvette, that is, and not the current one; after a year of waiting, a six-speed manual transmission is available.
The SS’s lineage is an interesting one. The sedan is constructed at GM’s Australian facility where for years it has worn the Holden Commodore badge. During the 2008 and ’09 model years, GM shipped the car to North America dressed up as the Pontiac G8. When the brand was cashiered in 2009, the G8 was also history, or so we thought. The car returned for 2013 as the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), which was a significant hint that the Holden/Pontiac/Chevrolet would soon be made fit for civilian duty. To fulfill the performance image for the street, the SS’s running gear consists of a 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 that’s found in the current Camaro and in pre-2014 Corvettes. And while the original year was only mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Chevrolet has finally delivered: a six-speed-manual gearbox is available for 2015. Chevrolet claims the SS will nail the 60-mph mark from rest in the five-second range, which is quick for any 4,000-pound chariot. For stopping the SS, Chevrolet has installed a set of beefy Brembo-brand brakes — including the rears for 2015 — that are only partially hidden behind a 19-inch wheel-and-extra-wide-tire package. Other performance enhancements include adopting Chevrolet’s magnetic ride control, the fantastic active shock absorbers found in a bunch of hot Cadillacs, Corvettes and Camaros. Concurrent with its race-bred leanings, the SS also doubles as a stellar luxury-car performer. The standard-equipment list encompasses a leather interior with eight-way adjustable and ventilated sport bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, navigation, keyless push-button and remote start, alloy pedals and a 220-watt Bose-brand audio system. Along with 10 standard airbags, you can count on blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts (the latter being most helpful when backing out of a tight parking spot) and super-bright xenon headlamps. In fact, about the only option offered to SS buyers is a power sunroof, which likely makes the SS the only GM vehicle in recorded history to offer such a meager extra-cost list.