Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 5, 2016
Forget everything you once knew about the Camaro. Nevermind the rubbish ride, the porky dimensions, and uninspiring engines, the new sixth-generation Camaro is an entirely new and modern horse. While some of its ponycar-derived limitations still exist in the form of poor visibility and a cramped cabin, at its core, the Camaro is miles better than the last.
Changes on this new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro are more than skin deep – yes I know this rental car silver is not the most exciting of shades, rather it accentuates its hefty size. As a result, the new Camaro doesn’t appear as sleek or as lithe as its Mustang rival, but peel back the layers and you’ll find something truly shocking. You see, the new Camaro borrows the same rear-wheel drive platform from the sublime Cadillac ATS. What does that mean? Well, the Camaro no longer drives like a pig.
Weight on the V6 model is cut down by a significant 133 kg and GM also claims the chassis is 28% stiffer too, together paying dividends in handling and performance. Are they right? You immediately feel the difference once you throw the new Camaro around a corner. The outgoing model was portly, unwieldy, and difficult to finesse. It was like trying to cut a piece of bread without a dull plastic knife.
The new Camaro however is an entirely different story. Shorter, narrower, and lower than before, it feels athletic, sharp, and is actually quite fun to drive. Thanks to its lighter platform, the Camaro’s handling is robust and hustling. It feels more driver-focused than ever before, delivering almost a GT-like ride hovering over bumps and undulations better than a Mazda MX-5. The Camaro stays flat, composed, and absorbent around fast bends, just like a Cadillac ATS – never in a million years would I have thought that possible.
Normally at this point in a Camaro review, I would be complaining about its cumbersome ride, poor visibility, harrowing blind spots and aging tech, but here I am instead praising its newfound glory. No longer does the Camaro compete in its own class of pony cars, the Camaro has been upgraded to luxury sports car status, fighting in the same ring as BMW, Audi, and hell maybe even Porsche.
But surely there’s more to it than the chassis, and you’re right. The trio of new engines available are phenomenal. Standard is a 2.0-litre turbo four, while an optional 3.6-litre V6, and 6.2-litre V8 (SS model only) sit at the top of the ladder. While we only had time to test the V6 variant, we were flabbergasted by the way it performed.
Also shared with the Cadillac ATS, this naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 ($1,645 extra) is a machine from the heavens. Delivering a stout 335 hp and 284 lb-ft, the V6 may seem low on torque but it makes up for it in high-end horsepower. Prod the gas pedal and the engine delivers an incredibly linear push up to the redline, only losing steam at around 6,500 rpm. Most of the juice and wallop is in the high-range, so don’t expect the initial shove and go that you would receive from a turbo-four Mustang.
Bolted on with the optional dual-mode performance exhaust ($940, spotters guide: quad pipes out back), and the V6 yowls to the point where it actually sounds louder than the outgoing V8-powered Camaro SS. It’s an engaging exhaust note (though aided by piped-in noise through the cabin); you can listen to a montage of it here. The Camaro screams exactly like how a naturally aspirated V6 should, and reminds us why we prefer our powerplants without any turbochargers.
Opting for anything but a V8 was usually looked down upon in the muscle car world. Now, it’s quite clear that the V6 just may be the hidden jewel of the lineup. Like the ATS, the Camaro’s V6 also makes use of cylinder deactivation, operating on four cylinders rather than six under light loads to save fuel. It’s powerful, provides a glorious soundtrack, delivers impressive gas mileage, and trumps the six cylinders from the rivaling Mustang and Challenger. No longer is it “just” a V6. Now, it is the V6.
The new optional $1,570 eight-speed transmission (6-speed manual is standard) is a great gearbox but it has been tuned a bit awkwardly in this application. You see, if you choose to row your own gears via the paddles or gear shifter, it is slow and cumbersome. But leave it in auto and it shifts instantly and brilliantly.
Hammer the throttle in 8th gear and in the blink of an eye, the systems will instantly downshift all the way to 3rd, giving you immediate power delivery and a satisfying howl. It’s definitely quicker than the 6-speed automatic found in the Mustang, and could almost be fooled for a dual-clutch.
GM says that absolutely nothing has been carried over from the previous Camaro except the bowtie emblem. The newly sculpted exterior was born from the wind tunnel – it’s more evolutionary and revolutionary but I doubt they wanted to morph its iconic pony car into something unrecognizable. The looks are modern and stacks right up there with the Mustang’s commanding road presence and curb appeal.
The interior is a bit of a mixed bag however. It’s more of a bunker down there, handicapped by a high beltline and low roof, leaving nothing but a small crack for a window. Blind spot monitoring and a rear view camera are must-have features that you surely want to tick on that options list.
There is less plastic and cheap feeling materials this time around, and is decidedly more upscale than the outgoing model. The leather seats are supple, the dials and buttons now feel durable and solid, and the new infotainment system and touchscreen are welcome additions with Apple CarPlay and Wi-Fi 4G LTE Hotspot.
Though the layout is neat, the barrage of perplexing circles, trapezoids, and rhombuses for panels and dials make me feel like I’m in a game of Operation. The cabin design certainly isn’t simplistic, but is decidedly less retro themed than before. Though the Camaro still utilizes those protruding binnacles hovering above the gauges though that slightly impede on the view in front. The tach and speedo are much cleaner and easier to read this time around, but gone are the set of readout gauges that used to sit on the center console.
To free up some central space, the fan temperature is now controlled via rotating the central air vents that look like onion rings – a cool feature to save cabin real estate, which is in high demand and surely lacking. There is absolutely nowhere to put your stuff – the door pockets are miniscule, the glovebox is tiny, and the narrow L-shaped center glovebox is only useful for putting things smaller than a Rubik’s cube.
At least it’s got a pair of rear seats but they’re meant for smaller occupants. Full-grown adults will never want to hitch a ride from you ever again. The trunk is a decent size for a sports car however, though the opening is incredibly narrow. To remedy this, you can fold down the rear seats for a larger pass through for larger items.
While the Camaro has certainly borrowed a fair amount of parts from the more luxury-derived ATS, is still a thoroughbred pony car? The Camaro still has its old school faults. Visibility is still terrible, the cabin design is aesthetically awkward, and the storage space is laughable. But aside from those nitpicks, the sixth-gen Camaro is better in almost every aspect.
The engines are phenomenal, the chassis is now all-star Cadillac quality, the car is nimble yet still delivers muscle car straight-line antics, and we haven’t even talked about its Valu-Mart starting price tag of $28,249. So to answer the question, yes, the Camaro is still a thoroughbred ponycar inside and out, but now it is less of a retired horse pulling a wooden carriage, and more of a stallion with jetpacks.
型号 Model: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT
顏色 Paint Type: Silver Ice Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $35,150
試車售價 Price as Tested: $41,080
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,812
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,782 / 1,897 / 1,349
引擎 Engine: 3.6-litre direct injection V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 335 hp @ 6,800 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 284 lb-ft @ 5,300 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.3 / 8.5 / 10.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1; 20-inch 5-spoke low gloss black aluminum ($795)