Aussie Commodore a hit in the US
Holden's crucial export program for the VF Commodore has got off to a promising start, with the first shipment of Chevrolet SS sedans driving out of North American dealerships last week.
The initial shipment of Chevy SS sedans has landed in the US, going on sale at dealerships around the country for US$44,470 ($46,850 AUD) plus local taxes.
And the Australian-built four-door has so far received glowing praise from the Northern Hemisphere. Several new owners have already taken to forums to express their content with the new model, essentially a left-hand-drive version of Holden's VF SS-V Commodore.
"I have 100miles now. Love it!," said Las Vegas-based owner PRLx1967 on the Chevy SS forum. "Smooth ride, no road noise, flat in the turns (and) great power."
"Compared to the GT [Pontiac] it's a 100% improvement in material, technology, and comfort. Performance is a large step maybe a 50% improvement because of response, power, and handling. Stock sound is nice, again can't compare it to a stock GXP."
Another new recipient, SSChevy, posted: "This car is honestly way better in person than on any photos! It has beautiful curves and it has all the features you can ever need."
The Chevrolet SS is similar in specification to the SS-V Commodore, but receives a more powerful 309kW 6.2-litre V8 engine, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters and several cosmetic and internal enhancements.
The four-door sedan is General Motors' weapon of choice in the NASCAR racing series, where the Australian four-door won on debut at Daytona. Chevrolet has not offered a rear-drive V8 sedan in the US since 1996.
The Chevy SS follows export programs for the VE Commodore, which was sold as the Pontiac G8, and the Monaro, which sold as the Pontiac GTO. Holden says shipments of the Chevrolet SS from Australia to the US would now be "ongoing", as exports take on greater importance following the change of government in Canberra.
Despite America's success in rear-drive, big capacity sports sedans, Chevrolet admits its marketing spend on the SS will be minimal.
Speaking with Fairfax Media, Chevrolet spokeswoman Afaf Farah said the company had concentrated its marketing and advertising around Nascar racing.
"Nascar is the primary marketing opportunity for the SS," she said. "We have started a limited amount of print advertising in the major motoring publications.
"This is very much a low-volume niche product for Chevrolet and we will not be undertaking any larger marketing campaigns. Nascar is quite a large platform in itself.
"All of our communications about the SS have acknowledged that the car was developed in partnership with Holden and is manufactured in Australia."
Initial US media impressions of the SS have anointed it as the "Rear-drive thunder from Down Under" and Farah said the car has been well received during its public appearances this year.
"The few times that I have had the opportunity to drive the car, I have been followed by interested consumers," she said. "We have gotten that same kind of feedback from the first few media who have had access to the car here in Detroit."
"We have also had a very strong response to the car at Nascar races and major US auto shows where it has been on display all year. The reveal of the car was watched online by more than 1 million people."
According to US reports, dealer allocation of the SS will be severely limited to begin with. General Motors is said to be allocating SS units to dealers based on their sales of the Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Camaro.
"The target customer for the SS is a well-established professional who may have started a family a little later in life – they don't want to sacrifice the performance of sports car but need the flexibility of a sedan so the SS is ideal for their evolving lives," Farah said.
The Chevrolet SS roll-out received a timely boost this week with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon promoting a personalised concept at the Sema show.
Gordon chose a handful of tasteful mods for the car, including a striking satin red colour scheme. The outside appearance is punctuated by lower suspension, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, custom honeycomb grille and 20-inch wheels.
Inside, Gordon opted for perforated suede seat inserts, embroidered headrests, a pedal kit and a flat-bottom steering wheel.
Performance modifications include a high-flow exhaust system and upgraded brakes.
-Fairfax News Australia