Commentary: VF + SS = ???


2011 Holden Commodore VE Series II SS sedan. Photo (c)2011 General Motors.

We at Victory & Reseda have some good news…and some bad news.

First, the good news: Holden will build the VF Commodore before we know it! Essentially, the VF will be a re-skin of the current VE. As you know, the VE came out on General Motors' Zeta platform designed for a series of rear-wheel-drive vehicles aimed at Australiasia and North America. The VF is slated to use lighter materials – namely aluminum – add a bunch of tech on-board and to emulate a global design language as dictated by Chevrolet.

Power for the VF should be the same. Australian consumers already enjoy two High Feature V6s (a Holden design, in case you're wondering) of 3.0litre and 3.6litre displacement. The top engine should be the newest generation Small Block V8 – displacing 6.2litres as in the current Corvette.

North American consumers received their first taste of the genial Aussie in the Pontiac G8 – a future classic by all accounts. Currently, the Zeta underpins the Canadian-built Chevrolet Camaro and long-wheelbase Chevrolet Caprice PPV (also sold as a Holden and a Chevrolet in various markets from New Zealand to the Middle East).

There is more good news, however. The VF will be imported from its Adelaide production facility to North America as Chevrolet's rear-drive performance sedan. The sedan will sit on top of the four-door heap for retail consumers as a low volume, niche product aimed at those who want a Camaro, but with four doors.

To make the 2014 model very special, the next generation Small Block will be the only engine available for North American consumers. The word is that it will hit over 400 horsepower – tilted above the Dodge Charger R/T and Chrysler 300 C, but it is not confirmed which transmissions buyers will have a chance to choose from. It's been said to expect a high level of content equipment-wise and for the VF Chevy to be tuned for performance driving placating enthusiasts' want for superior handling and thrust.

For NASCAR Sprint Cup fans, the good news just keeps on coming. For the 2013 season, the Chevrolet racecar will take the shape of the VF Commodore. GM claims that it will be a natural fit as the rear-drive requirements of NASCAR befits the driveline of the actual VF. Keep in mind that the typical Sprint Cup racer is actually a standardized race car with a skin that resembles the "image" of which model represents a certain manufacturer.

Now for the bad news: The name. It is announced that the North American VF will be called the 2014 Chevrolet SS Performance Sedan.

Gulp.

Across social media, the name was given a lukewarm reaction. It was seen as unimaginative and lacking any passion for the intent of this car. But, there was a feeling it was coming down to this.

I, of course, have my opinions about the name Chevrolet came up for their version of the VF Commodore. With all due respect to my colleagues and contacts at or involved with GM, but I am not feeling it. There are plenty of SS models past and present that are appropriate, but I see the nomenclature as a top model for a performance lineup – namely the Camaro.

The extension of this argument comes from whether Chevrolet should have gone back to extract an old name or create a new one that would be a possible fit for the new car. One string of the rumor mill had the VF pegged as the Chevelle – which is a fantastic name from the past. Historians would probably argue several ways as to the reasoning against naming the Chevy VF a Chevelle. Or, rather, they nixed the upcoming large front-drive Impala to upend that name onto a domestic production run of the VF – namely at Oshawa alongside the Camaro.

Since the VF will represent Chevrolet on the track, think about the names that once went to battle over the decades wearing the bowtie badge. When you think of the Monte Carlo, you think of Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. The current Impala is Jimmie Johnson's warhorse. If you go back earlier, you may recall the Malibu Lagunas that stoke the ire of the Ford Torinos and Dodge Chargers at Daytona, Darlington, Talladega, Riverside and Pocono.

Then again, it is worth noting that the Commodore's high performance model is also known as the SS. Granted Chevrolet has been using the Super Sports moniker for much longer. Believe me, there's an argument brewing somewhere between Fremantle and Cape Breton on the emotional meaning of the double-S badge.

This could go on while I'm opening up more cans of worms. I am personally not convinced that the VF would be served with the SS name by itself. I believe that the vehicle should be in the lineup – especially when a legend has been forged in the guise of its primary competitors: Chrysler's second-generation LX-platform sedans.

Since the VF is a simple re-skin of a proven chassis – the Zeta – Pontiac G8 owners can already tell you its capabilities in terms of being a rival to Chrysler's LXs. Chevrolet needs the VF Zeta more than the extended Epsilon II-platform Impala.

Lastly, it would be nice to know what kind of volume GM is looking for in the VF SS Performance Sedan. Or, the price point it would be looking at selling the thing. And, whether a small number of Australian-built cars would be bought by a select few at a price point reserved for the likes of higher level Camaros, mid-content pickups and large SUVs and below a stripped down Corvette?

However, this is too good of a car to fail anywhere – especially here in North America. My only advice to GM's team on both sides of the Pacific comes from RuPaul Charles: "Don't f— it up!"

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