Chevrolet is a brand more commonly known for its dinky rentals and little commercial bakkies, but amidst the sensibility lies an outrageous, hooligan of a vehicle. It’s called the Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute and follows a stupidly simple recipe for hedonistic behaviour. What would happen if you combined a 6.0-litre V8 engine from a Corvette with a low-slung pickup truck? You get the biggest and baddest bakkie on sale in South Africa. How does the brute Ute fare?
Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute - Review by Dave Taylor
Monster Corvette-sourced powerThis is the result and it’s frankly quite hilarious. Originally from Australia under the Holden badge, this monster looks purpose-built for power thanks to its massive alloy wheels and four exhaust pipes out the back. Those pipes aren’t just for show either, as underneath that big bonnet lies the heart of an American muscle car. The 6.0-litre V8 has 270kW and 530Nm which sound a lot like sports car figures. Hang on, this is a bakkie we’re reviewing here.
It’s rather nimble off the line and you’ll see 100km/h come up in about 6.5 seconds, but the fun doesn’t stop there as all that torque will keep thrusting you along until you reach startling figures. This vehicle has tremendous amounts of in-gear torque, which in English means overtaking is most entertaining as you effortlessly leave slower traffic behind. Then there’s that sound. While most small cars have a distinctly mechanical and appliance-like sound to them, this sounds like there's a thunderstorm trapped inside the engine bay.
Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute is a hands-on driving machineThe Lumina may be a bakkie, but there’s no four-wheel drive. This is rear-wheel drive only and with that monster engine upfront, it all makes for interesting moments when negotiating corners. See, there’s no weight on the back and the rear end likes to break traction and the car gets a little sideways.
This is exaggerated when it’s wet, but the car’s clever traction control keeps it manageable. If you were to own one, just drive with your wits about you when it’s raining. The big downside to all this is the fuel consumption. That V8 is powerful, but it needs to considerable amounts of unleaded. During my time with the vehicle I averaged around the 14L/100km.
Now this may all sound like childish behaviour (it is a little), but when you take your foot off the loud pedal, the Lumina SS Ute actually offers rather decent ride quality. It’s smooth on the open road and the engine rev counter barely registers 2000rpm as you trundle along at the national speed limit. It’s a hands-on vehicle when in bumper-to-bumper traffic though, due to the heavy action of the clutch and gearbox.
Crazy on the outside, sensible interiorIt may have hooligan traits, but inside the cabin it is quite grown up and comfortable. It may only seat two, but these are comfortable features which rival most midrange sedans. There’s a touchscreen radio with iPod/USB/Mp3 connectivity, satellite navigation, climate control, automatic windscreen wipers, a comprehensive trip computer, cruise control as well as automatic headlamps.
There’s also neat stowage compartments located behind the driver and passenger seats. These power seats are leather, by the way. It also boasts numerous safety features and I can complement the brakes for being exceptionally strong. There are six airbags fitted too.
Summary - Chevrolet Lumina SS UteThis Lumina SS Ute is an oddball in the motoring world. It’s a bakkie which can’t go offroad, drinks a lot of petrol, seats two and snacks on boy racers in their GTI hatchbacks. Or, if you look at it from my point-of-view it’s a fun sports car with a massive tarpaulin-covered boot. Despite its craziness, there’s no shortage of Lumina Utes on the road and they clearly have their fans as many have been customised to go even faster.
View the new Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute
Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute - PriceChevrolet Lumina SS Ute - R467 800
- Why you should: The closest we’ll get to a muscle car. Loud, proud and fast. Surprisingly comfortable highway cruiser. Rear load bay can swallow a lot of cargo.
- Why you shouldn’t: Can be a handful to drive if you’re inexperienced, drinks fuel and will go through rear tyres if you’re heavy-footed.
- It would be better if: Leave it alone. It’s such a special and unique vehicle.
- Competitors worth checking out: To be honest, it has this corner of the market all by itself as it’s a niche product.