Inertia Report: Was It a Good Idea to Have the Chevy SS Pick Up Where the Pontiac G8 Left Off?
History Repeats Itself...
The Pontiac G8 wasn’t around very long. Launched in early 2008 as a 2008 model, it was sadly discontinued in the middle of 2009 because the 2008 recession required GM to kill some companies. Pontiac was one of those casualties. But while the G8 was around, it was a game changer.
An American RWD V8 sports sedan, the G8 was so good that it was being called the “American M5.” The G8 was based on a Holden Commodore. My only gripe with the car is that America didn’t get the Sportwagon or any HSV models, especially the W427. But that’s beside the point. The G8 packed 415 HP, a lot for 2008. To put that into perspective, the Nissan GT-R only made 480 HP in 2008. That’s only a difference of 65 horses.
And yet, the American outcry for an American Sports Sedan from General Motors was great enough that in late 2013, the Chevrolet SS was debuted, based on the Gen F Holden Commodore. The problem? It was boring. It took forever to get a manual and magnetic ride control. And with 415 HP, it picked up exactly where the Pontiac G8 left off. Which is bad. Later I'll explain “How I Would Relaunch The Chevy SS”; for now, we analyze why the Chevy SS didn’t do very well.
As previously stated, 415 HP was good, healthy power in 2008. But in 2013, it was far too little. In fact, the Chevy SS suffered from the same problem the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 did: too little power for the competition. At least the Jeep was fighting in a rough segment, whereas the SS had to compete with literally only three cars: the Dodge Charger SRT8, the Chrysler 300 SRT8, and the Ford Taurus SHO. Actually, forget the SHO. It’s just there and it had worse problems than the SS.
Regardless, the Chevy SS was out-powered from conception. The Charger/300 cousins both made 470 HP from a naturally aspirated 6.4L HEMI in 2013. And the Charger just got stronger in 2015 with a remodel that gave it 485 HP from the same 6.4L HEMI and the Hellcat. With twenty to fifteen horses off five-hundred, the Chevy SS was heavily outgunned. In 2013, 415 HP was too low. Wayyy too low.
The other issue was the obvious lack of interest Chevy had in the SS. I say this because can anyone else explain why the HP out of an LS3 V8 was so low in 2013? Especially when Chevy knew the competition was going to have more HP. Then there was the long wait for a manual transmission and magnetic-ride control. And, in fact, that was all there was to the car.
Of course, individually, the car was amazing to drive and a quick reminder that a true-to-the-roots sports sedan can still exist. But compared to a Charger SRT in brute performance, it was destroyed. And when you realize that Australia got better versions, well, it’s easy to see why the hype died very quickly. And with the announcement that Holden was shutting down its factory doors at the end of 2017, the Chevy SS’s days were numbered.
Regardless of this fact, Chevrolet is a company more than capable of reviving and making the SS fun for the short time we would have it. So why didn’t Chevy do that? The only answer I have, really, is laziness. Chevy focused more on the Camaro and Corvette than the SS, leaving it as the odd child out. And that’s weird, especially since they went through all that trouble to import the car from Australia. You could at least give it more T.L.C.
So shame on Chevy for not doing more with a capable platform. Shame on the team that decided it was a good idea to name a car after a trim level! And most importantly, shame on Chevy for not giving a piece of automotive history a proper send-off.
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