Come on baby, light my fire!

Bobby Cheetham

THERE IS nothing quite like a thumping V8 under the bonnet. And when it is a six-litre V8 all aluminium engine that produces a maximum of 270kW and a massive 530Nm of torque, you know it is going to be a thrill a minute.

General Motors South Africa has introduced an upgrade to the Chevrolet Lumina sedan and Lumina Ute. The refreshed Lumina package for these two iconic V8 muscle cars that occupy a unique slot in the South African market provides for an enhanced ride and handling as well as improved braking.

World of Wheels recently had the bakkie (Ute) to test and we can honestly say it is arguably the most exciting vehicle we have had to drive in ages (barring the Porsche Boxster, which won the Car of the Year title this year, and the Porsche Cayman S).

Yes, it is in the same league as the super Porsches in the performance stakes.

First up on the list of improvements is the introduction of the latest Performance Sport Suspension package for the Lumina.

Stiffer stabiliser bars are utilised with this package together with dampers that have been fine-tuned to offer improved vehicle ride and handling. The front brakes are revised with four-piston, two-piece Brembo aluminium callipers now fitted. These work together with massive pillar-vented discs (355mm in diameter) for improved cooling and durability.

The improved handling package is topped off with 19-inch high-strength alloy wheels. Ultra-high performance low-profile tyres provide an exceptional connection with the road with an outstanding level of grip.

A minor cosmetic change is the addition of a chrome belt line on the sedan variants. The Chevrolet Lumina’s muscle car reputation is derived from its V8 engine that produces a maximum of 270kW and a massive 530Nm of torque. While we dared not take the bakkie to its maximum speed we guess 240km/h is not an unreasonable top speed.

This is achieved with reasonable economy thanks to the advanced electronic control of the multi-point fuel injected engine.

Drive is via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic gearbox. Where the automatic transmission is specified power is limited to 260kW. The ample power and torque of this flagship model in the South African Chevrolet range is matched by impressive specifications.

Full executive level trim on both the sedan and Ute includes: Leather seats; dual zone climate control airconditioning; power windows and side mirrors; sports contoured seats with four-way electronic adjustment and lumbar adjustment for the driver seat; and sports type alloy pedals.

A driver information centre provides instant trip details. Safety features include a six-airbag system, including roof airbags, on both the sedan and the Ute as well as ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability programme (ESP).

Traction control and cruise control are fitted across the range. Handling is enhanced by the advanced linear control suspension system. Central locking with auto-lock is a standard feature, as is an alarm immobiliser system. The alarm system includes a panic alarm.

The Lumina Ute is priced from R467800 and fuel consumption is quoted as 12.3l/100km with a hefty CO2of 291g/km.

The Ute is not for the squeamish. It is a brute which needs to be piloted by responsible drivers. Forget it if you are a showoff – this vehicle is superhot and will land you in plenty of trouble if not handled with care. The Lumina and Lumina Ute are covered by a five-year/120 000km warranty with roadside assistance. A three-year/60000km service plan is included in the purchase price.

Service intervals are set at 15000km or one year.

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