How the SS will become Chevy's four-door Corvette halo car
By Jonathon Ramsey RSS feed
Posted Nov 30th 2012 7:57PM
Yesterday on a stage on the Encore Theater at The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, Chevrolet revealed its NASCAR SS, the race car that will contest next year's Sprint Cup series. A lot of people are talking about this car, and doing so well beyond the NASCAR fraternity – we were told that 30 minutes after it began the car became the number one trending topic on Twitter. The car looks great, Jeff Gordon showed up for some banter, everyone who was there applauded, the assembled drivers said the the right things.
Yet the 2013 car – no longer called the CoT – is a huge step for NASCAR, nearly two years in the works, to try to get more "stock" back into the series. Primary reasons for the seven-year development of the 2007 CoT were driver safety, lower costs and improved competition, but the formula went so far that teams were running "a template car, it was just decals," Reuss said. A press colleague added, "You couldn't tell what car was coming out of Turn 4 until you saw the number." "It became about drivers and sponsors," said Reuss, "and we said 'hey, we need to get back to the stock car roots.'"
Reuss has a particular interest in what happens with the SS because he was Managing Director at Holden while the next-generation Holden Commodore, the VE series – the car that is the SS in its original guise – was being developed. He said that from inception, it was decided that the VE series would be the car that would become Chevrolet's RWD halo sedan, rumors from three years ago even pegging it as a Chevy SS, and spearhead its NASCAR efforts.
The Australia-to-US move has been tried before with the Pontiac Monaro and G8, neither one working out as hoped. There are two vital ways in which the SS will not be The Pontiac G8 2.0, however: It's going upmarket and it's not for the masses.
In fact, Reuss said the SS is a completely different car from the G8, specifically in terms of refinement and NVH, and that's before you get to the high-power small-block V8 that, in his words, makes the SS "a four-door Corvette." The user interface, the tactile points, the perceived and real touches are a step in another direction, "quite different" is what we were told. Above that, Reuss said the entire SS package has been about making sure all aspects of the car fit together. "The integration in NVH, ride and handling has to match, and the refinement of the car will match the performance of the car." The meaning for us is, "Don't expect this to be like the G8 or the G8 GXP." We should expect it to be better. We don't have a problem with that, since the G8 GXP was one of our favorite cars.
In terms of where SS buyers might also be looking, Caldwell said, "We're in a unique spot because there isn't a lot of competition at the Chevy level."
When we succumbed to asking the boilerplate "Who is this car for?" question that always comes up when a manufacturer presents an upmarket offering, Reuss looked thoughtful and said, "Anyone who has the right amount of money and shows up in a Chevrolet dealership, we will sell them this car." Point taken. "You don't want to overthink this stuff – we haven't focus-grouped it," he added. "It's going to be a really good car. People are going to want it." Right on.
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