The new Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute from General Motors South Africa is the latest model of an iconic sports pickup that has its roots in a range of functional but sporty pickups developed by GM Australia going back almost 60 years.

This latest Lumina SS Ute is built on a completely new platform, the first complete update for the Ute since 2000, and benefits from significant advances in technology and vehicle design for this latest generation model.

Available in South Africa just five months after its domestic launch in Australia, the new Lumina SS Ute offers several new features including more useable interior space, greater storage flexibility, and more performance than its predecessor.

This new pickup is derived from the Lumina SS sedan, itself the subject of a complete update early in 2007, and rides on the back of a R5 billion investment by General Motors in Australia for that platform. Development of the Ute added a further R525 million to that investment. More than 650 000 kilometres of development testing has been completed on the new Lumina SS Ute.

“The Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute occupies a special niche as the only vehicle of its type in the South African market,” says Des Fenner, Marketing Manager for General Motors South Africa. “It is a vehicle that has a tremendous appeal amongst a group of buyers that work hard and play hard and enjoy an active lifestyle. It is well suited to a load-carrying role at work and at play.

“The new Lumina SS Ute raises the bar compared to its predecessor, already a well received vehicle. It offers new standards in terms of safety, comfort, flexibility, and performance. A wealth of design and engineering expertise at GM Australia has been employed to produce a vehicle that successfully integrates sports car performance, ride, and handling, together with a functional load carrying capability.”

Interior space on this latest Lumina SS Ute is increased to 245 litres, a significant increase over the 90 litres of the previous model with access via a quick release seat latch. A number of design solutions have been implemented to increase interior storage space, improve rear compartment access, and add convenience features.

Throughout the vehicle the rigid quality standards applied to the new Lumina SS sedan have been applied to the Ute. Critical quality criteria such as part-to-part fit, material surfaces, storage openings, and trim are highlighted in a quest for the highest overall vehicle quality.

Safety technologies employed in the Lumina SS Ute were benchmarked against leading international competitors. Major engineering programmes produced a stiffer body structure with a significant increase in the usage of advanced, high strength steels to a point that 77% of the Lumina Ute’s steel content is of this type of steel.

While the focus was on introducing elements into the design that would aid crash avoidance, engineers have optimised crash protection to ensure a high level of occupant protection in the event that an accident does occur. Chassis load-path strategies adopted for the Lumina SS sedan have been adapted to the Ute with a focus on side and rear impact protection.

Structurally optimised crush zones assist in absorbing crash energy and directing it away from the passenger area. A full suite of electronic driver aids is included in the specification as are dual stage airbags. The airbags inflate in two stages according to crash impact severity and the respective positions of the seats.

Power for the Lumina SS Ute comes from Chevrolet’s all aluminium 6 litre Gen IV V8 engine. This delivers 270 kW of power and 530 Nm of torque. Drive to the rear wheels is via either a six-speed manual transmission or an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic transmission with Active Select.

The new Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute is all about performance. It is effectively a two door sports car, but with the added feature of a large size load bed suitable for commercial or recreational use.