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Lumina SSV a brutal bundle of joy


IT’S NOT often that we agree about cars in this office, but the Chevrolet Lumina remains a steady member in each of our dream garages. When a Lumina rocks up at the office, it always causes a massive argument over who’s taking it for the weekend.

Why do we love it so? It’s hard to put a finger on only one particular thing. It’s more a combination of elements we all love about cars in general.

A good place to start is the 6.0-litre all-aluminium V8 engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Rated at 270kW and 530Nm of torque, it’s not particularly powerful for its size, but it has a lot of personality. It powers the Lumina from zero to 100km/h in 6.6 seconds and tops out at 250km/h.

It’s not a face-melting kind of acceleration, but it gives you a nice warm feeling on the inside. The next thing we love about this car is its tendency for sideways action (and I don’t mean in an uncivil dangerous way). Turn out of a junction and slightly step on the throttle and feel the back squirm under the power. It’s an exhilarating and admittedly childish feeling that all petrolheads cherish. 

In third place, we have the looks. In my experience, it’s only the guys who get the styling of the Lumina (and the Lumina Ute for that matter). It’s so unrefined and unashamedly brash thanks to the rear wing and new chrome alloys. Every female in the office - except one, whose dad owns a Lumina Ute - hated it.

But here’s the thing: put a girl behind the wheel and men are unable to resist the bizarre sex appeal that follows. I had my wife drive it one evening to do a spot of bloke research and it nearly ended in a catastrophe. Most of the men in Randpark Ridge couldn’t resist looking at a fine lady driving a vulgar muscle car. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
And let’s not forget about the healthy dose of practicality. The Lumina is a spacious four-door saloon with a cavernous boot. It’s also safe, comfortable and is equipped with all the necessary features that make traffic jams bearable.

The only downside is its insatiable appetite for fuel. Chevy claims a fuel consumption of 12.2 litres/100km on the combined cycle, so at least it’s honest about the Lumina’s desire to destroy a tank of fuel as quickly as possible.

It all depends on how you drive it though. I used the Lumina on a road trip to Potchefstroom and got the average fuel consumption down to 9.4 litres/100km. This impressive feat has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the big, lazy engine. Between 100km/h and 120km/h, it’s barely ticking over.

It’s easy to see why we always fight over who gets the Lumina’s keys. This time we had two other expensive machines on offer as consolation prizes, so I wasn’t expecting too much of an argument. Alas, not even the promise of an Audi RS4, Infiniti M or Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 could keep us from fighting about the cheapest car in the Autodealer garage.

So I pulled rank for the first time in my life and kept it all to myself for a week. A nasty move, you say? Unquestionably so, but I had the Lumina for a week as a result and it did a brilliant job of soothing my guilty conscience. 

Sorry guys, better luck next time.

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