With every newspaper headline reading global warming and diminishing rain forests, I can’t help feeling guilty driving this huge lump of heavy metal. The purr of the big V8 reminding me that it is devouring a few baby seals every kilometre we are together. Therefore, it is politically and socially completely wrong to be enjoying this bit of motoring history on wheels, but I AM enjoying it. Foot planted, the 6,0-litre pushrod mill responds with enthusiasm pushing me against the seat with increasing ferocity as the engine speed rises. The six-speed automatic gearbox keeps the flow of power continuing while the scenery becomes a blur and I know I will have to stop this absurdity, but not yet…
Chevrolet has decided to give the latest incarnation of the Lumina a mild facelift, stylish new dashboard and added a V to the SS(V) badge. The interior is functional but still a bit unrefined by modern standards. For example, the mixture of mechanical and electrical adjustments on the seats. It more than makes up for this by the vast amounts of space for driver and passengers. The onboard computer is not that intuitive but the touchscreen centre console is a pleasant addition. Somehow a boot release button was omitted and can only be found on the key fob.
From the outside the Lumina theme of no excuses continues. Fancy 18-inch alloys fill the flared wheel arches, the bonnet stretches to the horizon and the boot spoiler does a nice job of shouting the message to the other road users (while “spoiling” the rear view vision angle).
The old-school theme unfortunately includes the handling department. Although the car feels balanced through corners, the lack of feedback through the steering wheel does little to communicate the message from the tyres. This hampers confidence and absolute pace. Throw in a wet road and the driver will be happy to reach his destination in one piece rather than setting a record time.
With huge ventilated discs front and back the anticipation of good braking performance was found wanting. Maybe the test car had a hard life but there is no excuse for the dead brake pedal feel and average stopping times.
Powertrain-wise, some readers might sneer at the “mere” 270 kW and 570 N.m from a 6,0-litre V8 and they will be correct. The specific output (kW/litre) is on the low side but the engine will probably outlast all of us. Even with a 1,8-tonne car to propel it is good enough to reach 100 km/h in 5,92 seconds. The 1 km sprint is despatched in 25,23 s at a terminal speed of 215,66 km/h. Only a politician would be able to sidestep the fuel consumption enquiry which has a CAR fuel index of 14,76 litres/100 km…
In summary, the car is a living memory of an automotive world that has already sung its final swansong. Give the Lumina respect where respect is due and it takes guts in modern times to be different and proud of it – the Lumina does it in spades. At R441 930, you could own the last generation of a rare breed: a true muscle car.