Unlike the outside, the interior did become something different from that of the dream machine, but it still has a certain custom street-rod look about it. The plastic bits are, well, a bit plasticky, and you'll recognize the audio and climate-control systems as borrowed from the sport/utilities. But it's tough to do limited-production vehicles, while keeping costs under control, without raiding the parts bin. Best of all are the SSR's sport seats: They're firm, supportive, and beautifully stitched in high-quality leather. We can't say the same for the cheesy, nylon rug-like material that lines the bed. While it appears durable and waterproof, it looks cheap, is poorly finished, and is affixed with Velcro. Not custom street-rod-like, for sure. The rear decklid can be entirely removed and easily hung on the garage wall via a mounting kit that comes with the car.
Whatever the SSR qualifies as or from where it comes, there's no question that it's good fun to drive. If you crave power, smoothness, and dandy exhaust-pipe music, it's hard to beat a GM Gen-III V-8. You can criticize the transmission for having only four ratios, no sequential controls, and a clunky shifter, but it remains an ideal match for this motor. Chevy claims 0-60 times in the mid-seven-second range, confirmed by an informal stopwatch; top speed is electronically limited to 125 mph (also confirmed). The SSR is a porker at 4760 pounds--some 1500 pounds heavier than a Corvette convertible--and launching that mass isn't easy. But midrange passing is a snap, and the burbling Small Block sounds so good, you'll never want to put the top up.
When you do decide to put it up, or down, however, it, too, is the proverbial snap. Just hold down the button, and the ASC designed and supplied one-touch top does the latching, folding, and covering for you. Lowering the top takes about 20 seconds; closing it requires 24. While going alfresco, wind noise and buffeting are commendably low. Top up, it's not as quiet as a closed coupe, but it's less noisy than a cloth-topped convertible. In summary, the whole retract-o-top system is positively slick.
The rest of the SSR driving experience is a cross between sport truck and body-on-frame domestic convertible. Chassis engineers nailed the ride/handling balance; the structurally rigid underguts help here, too. The SSR is nobody's sports car, but it corners confidently given its truck-based makeup. The ride is comfortable yet firm; never harsh, but not mushy, either. We're not quite sold on the rack-and-pinion steering. Although the SSR uses a faster rack than its SUV platformmates, turn-in is somewhat vague, and there's too little real feedback for how heavy it feels. ABS-assisted stops are straight and sure.