What is it?
Sometimes you have to just go with the flow. Chevrolet originally hoped to bring the soft-top Camaro to market more than a year ago, but the project was delayed by the maker’s massive financial problems – and the failure of a key supplier. That, it turns out, was good news.
Last year, for the first time in a quarter of a century, Chevrolet’s ‘pony car’ beat its Ford Mustang arch-rival in the sales sweepstakes, so the Camaro Convertible arrives in the US this spring just in time to keep the momentum going.
What's it like?
Chevrolet engineers went into the project knowing that they were not only on a tight budget but also had to maintain both the striking looks of the retro-styled Camaro coupé and its solid body structure. There was no room for the soft ‘boulevard ride’ of previous Camaro rag-tops, said chief engineer Al Oppenheiser.
The Z-fold canvas top lives up to expectations. It’s taut, unlike the hungry horse look of many convertibles, where the fabric sags between ribs. The only drawback is that installing the tonneau cover, standard on top-line V6 and V8 versions, can try the patience of a saint – and it is likely to spend most of its time in the boot.
The top itself is a joy, taking just 20 seconds to operate in either direction, plus a quick twist of the single lock-down handle. With the roof up, the car is surprisingly well insulated and quiet.
The careful use of braces, supports and a hydroformed tube result in an impressively stiff body that readily blasted through the roughest mountain roads that we could find outside San Diego, California.
Only under a quirky and rare situation, where a rough road surface and just the right speed resonated with the body, did we experience a brief bit of shake from the steering column.
The 420bhp LS3 6.2-litre V8 barely notices the extra 114kg, taking the car from zero to 60mph in 4.9sec. Even the 308bhp 3.6-litre V6 model loses just 0.2sec, at 6.2sec to 60mph.
Should I buy one?
Chevrolet scored big with the reborn Camaro coupé, and if our first drive is any indication, the convertible will only build on the pony car’s already huge reputation.
Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
Price: £35,000 (est); Top speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 24mpg; CO2: na; Kerb weight: 1870kg; Engine: V8, 6162cc, petrol; Power 420bhp at 5900rpm; Torque: 420lb ft at 4600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual