If you want a Chev with real spark, meet the new Lumina SS. In fact, it is a blast! It is pure-bred V8 muscle.
At its price, which kicks in at about R330 000, there is no other car that comes close to the Lumina SS. The Ute is also the fastest production bakkie in South Africa.
If you have to pitch the Lumina against other sedans, cars such as the Chrysler 300C comes to mind. But the Chrysler costs quite a few grand more too.
On price the Lumina SS rivals the Mazda6 MPS but then again the Mazda is a different kind of sports sedan and doesn't have V8 power.
Modern day muscle cars are a rare find in South Africa, so the Lumina is indeed a welcome addition to our market. The previous generation hasn't sold in huge numbers and GM is again not aiming to sell the new Lumina in huge volumes.
Chev says the Lumina is the brand's "halo" product. It is in fact the kind of car where the owners will give each other thumbs up signs when passing each other... As if they know something other road users don't.
But if you experience the Lumina's V8 muscle, it does evoke the cowboy in you. You feel as if you are "the man" and then there is no chance that you'll even be a bit embarrassed by that massive boot spoiler!
From 'Down Under'
Like before the Luminas SS are rebadged Holden Commodores which are imported from Australia. It is again available as a sedan or pick-up (or Ute).
GM calls the new Lumina/Commodore range its "billion dollar baby". The carmaker claims it invested $1bn (Australian dollars) in the new range.
One can understand the reasoning behind this massive investment as the Commodore is Australia's best selling car.
GM is positioning the Luminas as a niche product in South Africa aiming it at true petrolheads who enjoy raw power. And it is power that could corrupt you. Under the Lumina's bonnet lurks a 6-liter V8 engine.
This V8 offers massive immediate thrust. It delivers 270kW of power at 5 700 r/min and peak torque is 530Nm at 4 400 r/min.
New inside and out, the rear-wheel-driven Lumina SS is a car with loads of presence. "Muscle" is written all over the Lumina, and whether you like it or not the over-the-top appearance will definitely grab attention!
Furthermore the Lumina's sporty profile is complimented by a massive boot spoiler. Other sporting details include fender vents and dual exhaust outlets.
Then there are high tech tail lamps with smoky clear outer lenses over bright-styled bezel with red lens inserts.
Chev's performance model is now more dynamic too thanks to a new suspension setup, which is of a compact four-link design at the rear and a multi-link strut system at the front.
This results in sharper handling and better stability. The vehicle feels more under control than before, which is good, as it is car that invites speed and performance.
All-new larger fade resistant brakes, larger wheel and tyre packages and a revised forward-mounted steering rack are among other major vehicle dynamics developments.
Contact with the road is provided by 245/45 R18 tyres mounted on 18-inch alloys.
Both the sedan and the pickup are available with either a six-speed autobox or a six-speed manual transmission.
GM claims that a lot of attention was given to safety too and safety enhancements include a stiffer body structure, improved occupant protection and the use of advanced strength steels.
The front passengers are protected by frontal and thorax airbags while full-length curtain airbags provide protection for both front and rear sections of the cab in the event of a side-on impact. In the Ute SS, occupants are protected by dual airbags.
There are also all the usual passive safety technologies such as Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) on the sedan, while the Ute gets Brake Assist.
Additional driver protection comes in the form of a ride-down steering column, breakaway pedal system that helps to reduce lower leg injuries in frontal impact.
On the inside the Lumina's sporty theme continues with sports gauges, full leather trim as well as alloy pedals.
The Lumina range is packed with an extensive list of standard equipment: Power steering, remote rear view mirrors, cruise control, power windows, a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, as well as front windscreen wipers with an intermittent wipe function.
For additional comfort, the driver seat is 4-way power adjustable, and the driver and passenger seats offer lumbar support adjustment.
Standard offerings on the Lumina also include a trip computer. A new 'night' panel function reduces the lighting to all but the most necessary cluster functions.
Climate control air conditioning is standard on both the Lumina and Ute too.
The audio package consists of an in-dash 6-CD changer and RDS radio.
A high performance amplifier drives the speakers while steering wheel mounted satellite controls provide for easy tuning and adjustment by the driver. The system is also Bluetooth compatible.
Remote central locking comes as standard, as is an alarm system with a panic alarm feature. A transponder immobiliser system provides anti-theft protection.
Lumina SS: R349 000 (automatic & manual)
Ute SS: R329 000 (automatic & manual)
The Chevrolet Lumina SS and Ute SS are covered by a three year or 60 000 km warranty, with a three year or 60 000 km service plan included in every purchase.