The Lumina is the only car currently available in South Africa that is classified as a muscle car. A big 6.0l V8, small block L76 Engine that has been used in the Holden and Pontiac clones in both Australia and the US, is a feisty one. South Africa even seems to have a little bit more power and claimed figures are 270kw and 530nm. 270kw sounds like a lot, but in reality it’s pretty much mediocre for an engine the size of that found in the Lumina and, by American standards, the Lumina is actually underpowered by around 30-50kw. Although, as South Africans, we are used to 4.0l Ford, Nissan and Toyota bakkies making only 2/3’s of the power.
The Lumina UTE is not a workhorse. You can pretend to tell yourself that you will do the odd carry-around with it, and that is fine, but remember that it can only carry around 660kg and tow 1.6 tons according to the specification. Trust me that, personally, I think there is enough torque to tow a small planet, but legally I’m afraid that 1.6 tons is all you will be allowed to tow. Let’s be honest. You won’t buy the Lumina UTE as a working bakkie in any case. In reality it’s a sports car with a big – alright, huge – boot. It’s tightly wrapped with a tonau cover and even at higher than freeway speeds there is very little flapping about.
Let’s get to the driving bits; our test car, a 6.0l SSV Manual, was a real little beast to drive. From getting into the car, you are greeted with an interior that mimics a fighter plane of sorts. The big, chunky steering wheel only features a handful of buttons on it; one controlling the great audio system and the others the onboard computer. The dials read out all the way to 280kph. I kept wondering to myself if it will ever get there and by just driving around, you realize that it will happen pretty quickly, granted you put foot. The V8 rumbles to life with the turn of the key – I depress the clutch and select 1st gear. I pull off slowly and stir my way through the gears. I can’t believe how civilized such an intimidating car can actually be to drive. At freeway speeds the motor is ticking along just over idle and the fuel consumption is not half bad either. Getting on the gas is where those figures go horribly pear-shaped. The torque comes in like a wave and it carries on and on and on. There is power everywhere. The steering feels a little vague and heavy, but reminding myself that it is actually a bakkie, you come to forgive these little faults. The 245/45/18 tires try their best to cope with the power and with the traction control on, you should be okay. Turn it off and it will bite you, especially in the wet.
The seats are plush and, while the driver seat is electric for height adjustment only, the passenger seat is fully manual. Both seats swing all the way to the front with a relatively large space behind the seats for things like rug sacks and even bigger camera bags. Most things are standard, like electric windows (driver 1 touch), electric heated mirrors and obviously power steering. The Ute also has dual zone climate control and the entertainment system features Bluetooth calling, Bluetooth Audio streaming, USB, Ipod and an internal hard disk to store your music directly from you cd’s. There is an optional Satellite navigation package which needs to be ordered from the dealers, however.
On average the 6.0 UTE is not that heavy on fuel considering the great power you have. The Ute is claimed 0-100 time is just over 6 seconds, but I assure you it is because of traction issues. Fuel consumption combined is claimed at 12.4l/100km and we saw around 11.9-12.5l/100km on various trips. On the open road we even saw 9l/100km when we headed up the N7 in Cape Town and that really impressed me. Treat the loud peddle with caution and anything is possible. Abuse it and don’t be shocked if you see 19L/100km+
The Lumina UTE Manual retails for R432500-00 and it is by far the biggest value-for-money car for the power-hungry masses. To those of you who need extra space on the back and still don’t feel like backing down to the Merc 63’s and Bmw M3’s, the Lumina is just for you! Check out Chevrolet.co.za and book your test drive today.