Chevrolet should consider renaming its Lumina SS to Lumina BB for 'big brute', the term which best describes this 270 kW V8 monster.
What's it about?
Chevy's new generation Lumina SS is really a re-badged Aussie-sourced Holden Commodore SS but all badge engineering jokes are off when this brute cruises in.
The flagship in the local Bowtie's line-up could very well be the poster child for power at its intimidating best. Finished, as our test car was, in the brightest red under the spectrum, the SS certainly made everyone stand to attention with its imposing body styling.
The mean-looking boot spoiler, side skirts and sweeping front spoiler certainly look a lot more purposeful than your average cling on treatment, and has the uncanny ability to part traffic much like Moses did the Red Sea many eons ago.
And did I mention it is huge? This monster had difficulty getting completely comfortable in my standard garage space and parking it in these modern bays often proved problematic. I regularly thanked my higher being for the use of power steering, though this doesn?t imply that the big Chevy is all power and no luxury.
The SS is equipped with all the modcons found on most high end luxury models. The interior, with its sombre dark leather finishes houses an equally sombre facia where all the essential audio (the six-disc system is MP3-compatible) and ventilation controls are positioned. Convenient audio and trip computer controls are provided on the steering wheel.
Climate control, power windows, power sports seats and cruise control are all listed as standard features on this gentle giant.
Seating is provided for four to five passengers and those with the rearmost berths could possibly have the most comfortable seats in the 'house'. The key fob holds a remote boot release button (oddly, the cabin release is found in the cubby) that reveals a cavernous luggage space that could easily cart two bodies in comfort.
Standard on the rear-wheel drive Lumina is ESP with ABS, DSC, EBD and TCS. A full arsenal of airbags is included for added peace of mind.
Under the bonnet
The SS is powered by a new light alloy 6.0 litre V8 with 270 kW on tap at 5 700 r/min and an almighty 530 Nm at 4 400 r/min.
Average fuel consumption during our test period was just under 15 l/100 km, but buying this car automatically assumes you'll develop a closer relationship with your fuel card.
The SS doesn't completely discourage spirited driving. Prod the accelerator hard enough and you will feel and hear the sound of that new 6.0 litre V8 springing into action. And you'll seldom question Chev's performance claims when this machine pounds its path through traffic.
Steering it about town, its oversized steering wheel offers a meaty feel giving the large sedan a barge-like demeanour at low speeds. This sensation could be likened to piloting a large ship - provided you don't stomp on the loud pedal, of course.
Tap into the SS's racier side and it is as though the car is instantly poised for track action. The suspension seems firmer and throttle responses are more immediate - especially with Sportshift activated on the six-speed manual that served as our test car.
Space, space, space
The sound of that V8 ramping up
Instant mean appeal
The Lumina SS is big on personality and uses this to charm most who would ordinarily snub anything related of the big old Bowtie. However, Chevrolet's Aveo and Spark models continue to gain huge appeal in the market, which could largely be attributed to the presence of models like the SS sedan and its Ute sibling.
Also considering it costs just R349 000, its price tag, when compared with other vehicles of a similar size and engine capacity, makes it especially attractive. The money saved at the time of purchase could be used to subsidise those heavy fuel costs over the long run...