The first thing you notice about the new hotrod is its undeniable curb appeal. Camaro’s concept-car styling and wide, menacing body are accented by halo-ring headlamps, a low-brow grille and standard dual exhaust. The tester wore 20-inch chrome wheels and boasted a sunroof to boot. Even without any optional body add-ons or striping, stare and crowd-attracting power were undeniable. Shy shoppers need not apply. When you’re behind the wheel of a new Camaro, you’ll no doubt be gaped and gawked at wherever you go.
When you utter the name Camaro, the first thing that pops into most people’s minds is power. The new incarnation muscle car does not disappoint in this regard. Drivers can choose between a direct-injected 3.6 litre V6 engine and a simply beastly 6.2 litre V8. Even in its V6 form, the vehicle churns out a whopping 304 horsepower. Add another two valves and you’ll unleash an additional 116 ponies for a total of 420 for the V8.
Each powerplant comes standard with a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic with paddle shift available. The automatic is responsive, and manual-mode shifting is quick enough to justify its use. Of course, driving enthusiasts will opt to keep the extra $1,400 in their pockets for speeding tickets and car wax.
Of course there are some muscle car purists who still upturn their noses at six-banger incarnations, slotting them into the same category as non-turbo Toyota Supras and Dodge Rams without the HEMI V8. But the smaller Camaro engine gets things done in fine order. It revs eagerly, sounds mellow and sweet, and moves the hefty car along with aplomb. In short, it delivers a surplus of power and performance, especially for an entry-level powerplant.
304 ponies is V8 territory for some cars, after all, not to mention light years ahead of what many competitors can squeeze from their V6s. Even at $27,000, the most basic Camaro gets effectively as much sauce as the optional up-level engine in the “Korean Camaro,” which Hyundai calls the Genesis Coupe. Sexy, 300 horsepower two-doors used to be a lot pricier.
Aside from drawing attention with its dramatic looks, the Camaro’s most compelling traits were apparent on a highway drive. The heated leather seats proved comfortable, the thumping Boston Premium audio system was a fantastic companion, and the ride is relatively quiet and refined.
One could expect a far choppier ride from a car rolling on rims the diameter of trash-can lids. The Camaro’s suspension is tight and stiff – but soft enough around the edges to prevent a jarring ride. Handling is appropriately sporty and sticky for the size and weight of the vehicle, though a bit more steering feel would certainly be appreciated.
Other pluses? Mileage is appreciable. In fact, after a week of heavy-footed driving with plenty of highway time, your correspondent’s mileage averaged under 10.5L/100km of regular. Both the driver information centre and quad-pod gauge cluster look pretty slick, too.
Gripes? First, the dramatic exterior styling results in some tight cockpit packaging. The driving position is low, the dash is high, and the windows are narrow. Combined with the thick pillars, visibility is limited to some degree in every direction, which can make lane changes somewhat of a harrowing experience.
Headroom is limited for taller passengers, and the trunk opening is small – though its usable size is reasonable. Some might deem the need for a bit of colour contrast or varying textures to brighten up the cabin, though others will certainly appreciate the simple and focused driving environment.
Ultimately, Chevrolet has successfully brought the Camaro back into a more demanding sports car marketplace, with outstanding pricing that includes the requisite hardware to earn muscle car enthusiasts’ esteem. If you’re in the market for a relatively inexpensive, finely-styled coupe that churns out some pretty hefty numbers, Chevy’s Camaro definitely deserves consideration.
2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Engine: 3.6-litre V6, DOHC, 304 horsepower
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Average Mileage: 10.5L/100km
Transmission: six-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shift
Features: Bluetooth, sunroof, heated leather, Boston stereo system, xenon lights
What’s Hot: great looks, awesome entry-level engine, and decent fuel mileage
What’s Not: limited headroom, poor visibility
Starting Price: $26,995