The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro’s story is one of proximity. With a platform shared with the Cadillac ATS, there’s an implied closeness to that BMW 4-series competitor. Prod the gas pedal of the Camaro SS, and the Corvette Stingray’s syncopated exhaust note tickles the eardrums, drawing parallels with America’s sports car. And being smaller than its predecessor, the interior envelops the driver in such a way that the clipped exterior dimensions seem to shrink even more the quicker you go. This is a Camaro that finds itself closer to the sports-car end of the spectrum than ever before.
The Sum of Its Parts
It would be easy to chalk up the 2016 Camaro’s goodness to the componentry gifted it by the best cars in General Motors’ stable, but the pieces are specialized for Camaro duty. The SS model’s 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 is pulled straight out of the Corvette—and even matches the Stingray’s horsepower—but the torque peak is situated 200-rpm lower in the rev range, at the expense of 5 lb-ft to better deal with the Camaro’s extra weight. (Non-SS Camaros are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four or a 335-hp V-6.) The same goes for the rear-drive Alpha architecture; were Chevy to merely rebody the ATS to look like a Camaro, we’d likely have nothing short of raves. Instead, it tweaked the suspension geometry front and rear, swapped the Cadillac’s suspension components for its own, and, for the first time, made GM’s adjustable magnetorheological dampers available on the Camaro SS. And the Camaro’s weight loss can’t go overlooked; Chevrolet says the switch to the Alpha bones saves 223 pounds over last year’s SS manual coupe, for a lithe 3685-pound curb weight. (A 2016 SS automatic we tested rang in at 3760 pounds.)
If the Chevy has a failing, it’s the way it looks. This is not because it’s unattractive—it’s simply the missed opportunity that the styling represents. Looking like a seven-eighths-scale 2015 Camaro, the new one simply appears underdesigned. There are a few newly curved creases in the hood and around the car’s haunches, but they do little to set apart the new car or to alleviate the thick slab sides and the bunkerlike greenhouse. According to Chevrolet, the outgoing Camaro’s styling was a key purchase driver; that’s apparently all the automaker needed to hear, given the previous car’s consistent sales edge over the Ford Mustang. But how about polling non-Camaro owners? Chevrolet could have done better than rehashing a shape introduced for 2010.
Chevrolet may have looked back at the fifth-generation Camaro for design inspiration, but if it were doing so from the driver’s seat of the new car, it wouldn’t see much. Visibility remains compromised. The short side windows and pinched windshield are still present. In this light, the gauge-cluster hood’s protrusion into the driver’s forward sightlines and the parcel shelf that rises from the base of the rear window to meet the rear backrest—cutting precious inches from the driver’s already compromised view aft—feel like jokes taken a step too far.
Since most of what the occupants can see at any given moment is the Camaro’s insides, it’s a good thing that the materials are a grade richer than before, even if the arrangement of vents and dials on the dashboard is somewhat illogical. The standard eight-inch touch-screen display juts from the dashboard like an iPad, tilted down slightly to (presumably) reduce glare—but the subtle angle ravenously attracts reflections of the center console and the passenger seat.
A More Upright Sports Car
But none of that really matters once you’re rolling, because the 2016 Camaro is a binge-eater of roads. The SS model comes standard with Brembo brakes, 20-inch summer tires, and coolers for its transmission, rear differential, and engine oil. It’s the same sort of gear included in the Ford Mustang GT’s $2495 Performance package, only standard. When Ford fans gleefully call out the disparity between the V-8 Camaro’s $37,295 base price and the Mustang GT’s $33,295 ask, this is precisely what they’ll leave out of their argument. (Although that still leaves the Chevy some $1500 pricier.)
And no offense to Ford, but it’s pretty well established now that General Motors employs some of the best chassis engineers in the world. Their touch is felt in the new Camaro’s prodigious front-end grip, neutral balance at the limit, and outstanding wheel control over road imperfections whether or not Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers are present. The small-diameter steering wheel is a joy to wield, and quick flicks are all that’s needed to nudge into corners; compared with the Mustang GT, the Camaro’s front end responds more quickly and more positively to steering inputs. Sitting still, the interior is merely dark and cramped; on the move, the tighter environs feel cosseting, the corners of the car nearer. It’s an improvement, if only just.
As one might expect, the snarling V-8 engine is very Corvette-like, the 6.2-liter small-block making power everywhere in the rev range and sounding incredible. Speed builds quickly, and the Tremec six-speed manual is as willing a partner as can be, with short throws and a feelsome clutch pedal. The same (defeatable) automatic rev-matching function from the Corvette is present, and it really comes in handy as the widely spaced brake and throttle pedals make smooth heel-and-toe downshifts somewhat difficult. The optional eight-speed automatic promises quicker acceleration—our test of that version showed a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.9 seconds—but it can’t match the stick’s involvement.
The Camaro SS is the V-8–powered Cadillac ATS-V that Cadillac isn’t building. For a mainstream car, the level of chassis poise and sports-car-shaming capability is astounding. The previous-generation Camaro also was an assemblage of bits and pieces from across the GM spectrum, but they weren’t always the right pieces. The Zeta platform, for example, shared by the full-size Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Caprice sedans, gave the fifth-gen car lane-filling girth and unnecessary heft. The 2016 Camaro SS once again enjoys a close relationship with GM’s best products, only this time it networked better.
source: caranddriver.com By ALEXANDER STOKLOSA