BMW has been selling its 5 Series for decades, with the first generation debuting in the ’70s. The idea was to make a car that’s both comfortable, practical and well-built but also very fun. So it’s safe to say that the Bavarian brand knows what it’s doing. However, there are a lot of people who feel that the new Chevy SS is a better car than BMW’s famous 5er, even Chevrolet itself. And it’s possible, considering that the Chevy SS is trying to emulate the BWM 5 Series’ exact formula. So is it as good? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what you value.
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Chevy’s new SS, based on the Australian Holden Commodore SS, packs a very serious performance punch in a very affordable package. In fact, performance-wise, there isn’t much BMW sells that’s as good of a value as the SS. With a starting price of $47,000, the Chevy SS packs a 6.2 liter V8 with 415 hp, a six-speed manual and 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds. For comparison’s sake, the BMW 535i packs a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 with 300 hp, a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds and costs $55,850, almost $10,000 more. So the Chevy SS presents very good value.
It’s also very good to drive. It’s fast, fun, nimble and has a great engine. Plus, it’s available with a six-speed manual, making it one of the only V8 sedans on the market with the option. So for an enthusiast that doesn’t really have a specific tie to any brand, it’s hard to pass up on that performance bargain.
However, the BMW 5 Series isn’t really only about performance, like the Chevy. The 5 Series is about blending good driving dynamics with comfortable luxury and superb build quality. While the Chevy SS is great to drive, it’s seriously lacking in the other two departments. For starters, it looks like an old lady’s Chevy Impala, it’s interior feels as if it’s made by Hasbro and it feels very cheaply made. So there’s significant trade off for all of that performance.
And that makes the Chevy SS sit in an awkward position with the BMW 5 Series. It’s a higher performing car than the standard lot of 5 Series’, but it’s much less luxurious and built far worse. It’s way cheaper than the BMW M5, but it also can’t hold a candle to that car’s performance. So people who want a 5 Series for its blend of comfort, luxury and driving dynamics are probably not going to be looking at the Chevy SS. And people who want extreme performance aren’t going to cross-shop the SS with the M5 for their massive price and performance differences.
The Chevy SS is a very good car, one that offers fantastic performance levels and a fun driving experience for an affordable price. For anyone looking for a sport sedan that can seat five comfortably but still be fun when alone, the Chevy SS is not a bad choice. It’s boring as hell looking, but it’s fun to drive. However, I don’t think it can compete with the 5 Series because I don’t think it’s supposed to.
If anything, the Chevy SS could be compared to an E39 BMW M5, although as good as the SS may be, the E39 M5 is still the best performance/luxury sedan ever made. Even to be compared to that car is a compliment to the Chevy SS. But that just makes it a performance sedan, not a luxury sport sedan. So while it’s a great car, it just doesn’t compete with the 5 Series or current M5 because it isn’t as nice to own and drive as a standard 5 Series and it isn’t as fast or as capable as the M5. It’s good, very good even, but not as good of an all-rounder as the 5 Series.