Good Camaro advice: tear the roof off the sucker.
– Detroit, Michigan
You want high praise for the sixth generation of the Chevy Camaro (at least in convertible form)? I drove one the weekend our own Steven Ewing was rocking the Audi R8, and I never went to bed jealous.
Some of that is down to my being a confirmed ragtop zealot – it was a lovely summer weekend and the car’s top was basically only raised when parked, and for a painful stint of testing. But much of it is because the current Camaro is the best iteration I’ve ever driven (even if the pony-car-buying public hasn't quite come around yet).
- I am legally required to say that I’d prefer this car to have a manual transmission (it’s written right there in the Enthusiast Car Reviewer Code of Conduct), but I actually think the eight-speed automatic is a good option for this particular car. The auto box works smoothly to handle all the torque from the SS’ big V8, kicking down without hesitation when I’m feeling froggy, and otherwise riding the torque for super smooth acceleration. The paddles effect quick up- and downshifts when I’m truly hustling the car. But this car is best suited to warm-weather cruising, and the automatic trans does that with aplomb.
- I didn’t lead with it – I don’t want you guys to think I’m getting formulaic – but can we talk about how great this engine is? Just 6.2 litres of red hot sex and snarl right here, kicking out a square 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. Throttle pedal travel is on the long side, which makes modulation at lower speeds easy; you have to work a little harder for a wide-open blast but I think that suits the character of this car fine. I love the fact that I’ve got a near-four-second 0-60 car here, that can also be driven lazily without feeling out of sorts.
- Forget any of the issues you’ve had or heard about with old-fashioned muscle car convertibles – cowl shake, bad brakes, skinny tires – this is a sticky, excellent-handling vehicle. There’s not much drop-off, dynamically, from the coupe to convertible formulation of the Camaro, meaning it’s playful and rewarding to drive hard on curvy roads. Better still, with the top down it’s far easier to see forward with the convertible than in the tank-turret coupe.
- I hate dogging the Camaro interior, because it has taken a big step forward in this generation, but this one doesn’t feel quite as nice as I’d expect when I’m spending the odd $54,000. Even with a goodly amount of leather, the black plastic stands out in a negative way. An inherent difficulty when one model spans a huge price range, to be sure.
- As much as I love the V8 under the hood of the SS, and I do, the core stuff I like about the Camaro convertible can be had with the much cheaper V6. Pushing the go button with 455 horsepower is more entertaining, to be sure, but the lesser engine still offers a good-handling convertible with plenty of power, all to the tune of about $12,000 less (comparing base trims).
- The roofless transition has left this Camaro a less-attractive car. From some angles I still find it pretty, but the raked windshield is almost too aggressive for my liking, and the trunklid spoiler looks tacked on somehow, in its more exposed position with the top lowered.
Photos: Seyth Miersma / Motor1.com