- New Car Test Drive
The 2.0 turbo is quick, has a powerful 295 pound-feet of torque, and works well with either the manual or automatic transmission. You’ve got a real sports car with the 6-speed gearbox, with tidy throws and a smooth clutch that feels more natural than it does in the V8. But the 8-speed automatic is nothing to shy away from, as it’s responsive and shifts smoothly. One thing the four-cylinder turbo lacks is character in the exhaust note. There’s a low howl when it’s pushed, but otherwise it sounds docile.
The 3.6-liter V6 uses the latest technology of direct injection and cylinder deactivation. Its 335 horsepower is impressive especially for its efficiency, and its 284 pound-feet is compatible, but note that the four-cylinder turbo has more torque, with 295 lb-ft.
The V6 actually sounds like a vintage Ferrari when you get on the gas, a wonderful mid-range howl. When you get it near redline, that howl turns into a classic V6 drone. Engine noise is piped in from under the hood. Some love it, some hate the very idea.
If you can call one horsepower a reason, there are 120 of them to choose the 6.2-liter V8 over the V6. And it raises the torque by even more, a boost of 171 pound-feet, to a hole-shot thumping 455 pound-feet, and four seconds later you’re hitting 60 mph. The 6-speed manual does rev matching, and the 8-speed automatic has paddle-shifters. This powertrain transforms the Camaro into a brutally powerful masterwork.
With its standard 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle Sport tires, the Camaro has a great sense of stability, good tracking, and a composed ride. Patchy pavement doesn’t bounce the rear wheels around. Cadillac gets some credit for that, having sent over their suspension design, a double-pivot, control-arm and strut. They put their chassis engine rails and electric power steering in the box too. Those three things took more than a couple hundred pounds off the Camaro’s weight, and the new footprint almost electrifies the handling. You can feel 100 percent of the car in the corners. And we haven’t even driven the 1LE suspension package yet, which is tightened and upgraded.
Four-piston Brembo brakes are standard. Twenty-inch wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 run-flat tires are an option on the Camaro LT, while the SS gets them standard, with grippier tires that aren’t run-flat.
The Camaro doesn’t dance too much on the standard 18-inchers, but with big 20-inchers it can jackhammer over rough roads and skitter over imperfect surfaces. An SS with the conventional suspension is composed, but when you’re flying above posted limits on remote country roads, the magnetic dampers bring calm, allowing the Camaro to blunt impacts and race over savage pavement. Just another reason why it’s not a muscle car any more.
The Drive Mode Selector adjusts the steering weight, stability control sensitivity, shift timing and throttle response. The modes are Sport, Tour, Snow/Ice, and Track mode in the SS. The menu enables almost any combination.
In Tour mode, the steering is hefty but quick. In Sport or Track mode, the Camaro is one happy pony car, needling through tight trajectories with precision.