Chev Lumina

Chev LuminaI don’t know if you’ve ever watched “Ultimate Fighting Championship” but it is by far the most savage show I’ve seen on television. I’m surprised they’re even allowed to show broadcast such a thing. For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of it, basically two guys are thrown in a cage and they beat the living daylights out of each other until one guy gives up, or goes limp. (No doubt suffering permanent brain damage in the process)

Pretty brutal right? Wrong. Nothing compares to the Chevvy Lumina. This thumping great monster is brutality in its purist form, at the heart of which is a 6.0 litre V8 producing 270kW and enough torque to move planets. The rumble that emanates from within those 8 cylinders is enough to shake the planet too – just a gentle prod of the throttle turns a gentle purr into an ever incrementing roar that makes other cars cower in fear. It’s an addictive sensation that appeals to your most primal of instincts.

Driving the Lumina is a hairy-chested affair. The clutch is heavy, the steering is heavy and the gear change feels like an arm wrestle with Pier Spies – but that’s how driving a V8 muscle car should feel. This is no Kia Picanto and it’ll sure as hell let you know the fact. The flip side of the coin being that once you’ve had a stab at the throttle and experienced what can only be termed as savage acceleration, you’ll be so pumped with adrenalin none of this seems to matter.

Having driven both the sedan and Ute versions of the Lumina I was introduced to two differing sides of this beast. The sedan can be compared to the likes of the 5 Series BMW and E Class Mercedes in terms of size. It’s like captaining a ship as oppose to merely driving a car – and with it’s size comes a fair amount of practicality. There’s ample space for five people, their luggage, a few friends and the kitchen sink…if your wife’s coming along.

The Ute on the other hand is, well, more impractical for starters. There are of course only two seats and while the load bed is quite large, it’s use as a bakkie has to be limited by the fact that the 17″ wheels have a layer of black paint for tyres and the overall ride height is no more than about a millimetre; which means you couldn’t drive over a pebble, much less take the Ute off road.

The ride is such a laugh though. Driving the sedan is like sparring with a boxer, who, if you turn his traction control off, will give you a good thrashing. Driving the Ute on the other hand is like going 10 rounds in a bare knuckle fight. I’ve never had to concentrate so hard on the use of my right foot in my entire life. The back end will step out if you’re just a little too enthusiastic and don’t think the traction control will save you. The reason being is that there is just no weight pushing the rear wheels onto the road, which is where all that power and torque is going. It’s a lively experience to say the least.

If you’re distracted from the task of driving long enough to take a look around the interior, you’ll either be breaking the speed limit (inadvertently of course) or have killed yourself. However in the minute chance you manage to get a glimpse, you won’t be entirely disappointed. The interior may be a bit plasticky, but it has everything you might find a similarly priced BMW. Starting with the important stuff, there are bucket seats that keep you firmly in place when the back end breaks away, (again inadvertently of course) there’s climate control to keep you as cool as you look and a sound system as outrageous as a lime-green 6.0 litre V8 Chevvy.

On the looks front, the Lumina is much like it’s maker and you only have to watch a test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to know what I’m talking about. It’s like driving around in a clown suit giving pedestrians the finger, whilst swigging on a can of Fosters – it’s that inconspicuous. The massively flared wheel arches, capacious air intakes, tar-scraping side skirts and, on the sedan, ridiculous boot spoiler do anything but blend into the background, which means this car turns heads no matter where you go.

The only downside I could lay a finger on was the fuel consumption figure of 14.4l/100km. Which translated into English means you won’t ever drive past a petrol station without stopping to fill her up. Since it wasn’t on my fuel bill I didn’t care much at the time, but I realise that even if it had been I still wouldn’t care. For one simple reason.

Every minute I spent behind the wheel my smile grew wider and wider and it wasn’t long before I’d fallen completely in love with Lumina. At R415,000 there is nothing you can buy that will be as fast or as ball-achingly cool…and that’s the bottom line.

Miles Downard
Photo Credit: Justin Stephenson

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