New Camaro is lighter and more powerful than ever before and has set its sights firmly on the new Ford Mustang

What is it?

The all-new, 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, which makes a shift from the aging Holden-sourced Zeta platform to the Alpha structure that underpins Cadillac’s ATS and CTS saloons. The result is that this sixth-generation Camaro is not only markedly more modern but also smaller and lighter.

On the outside its proportions are unmistakably Camaro, but the design of Chevy’s pony car is more modern than retro, marking a stylistic departure that no longer pulls design cues directly from the model's history. It’s more of an evolution of the fifth-generation car than it is influenced by anything from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The switch to the newer Alpha platform, allied to a weight-conscious engineering programme, results in a coupé that is at least 90kg lighter than before, depending on the configuration. Most of the mass was taken from the body structure itself – about 60kg – while extensive use of aluminum suspension components assisted in the overall weight loss.

With subtly smaller dimensions - it's just 21mm narrower and 67mm shorter - the Camaro still has the same imposing visual presence as before. In addition, according to GM product boss Mark Reuss, the new Camaro has 28% greater structural rigidity, which will make a better foundation for the anticipated performance variants.

Changes in powertrains satisfy both fuel conscious and performance-minded drivers. The top motor is the powerful 6.2-litre V8, which is shared with the Corvette Stingray and makes 455bhp and 455lb ft. The engineering mule we drove was fitted with the new 3.6-litre V6, which produces 335bhp and 284lb ft.

As Ford has done with its Mustang, Chevy is making available for the first time a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in its pony car. It’s also found as the base engine in Cadillac ATS, and in here in the Camaro it produces 270bhp and 295lb ft. 

Each engine is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or, as on our prototype, GM’s excellent eight-speed automatic. This new auto ’box replaces a sleepy six-speeder and is something we’ve experienced in both Corvette Z06 and Cadillac ATS, where it performed magnificently.

Previously reserved for the supercharged musclecar version of the Camaro – the ZL1 – the SS will be available with GM’s active damping tech, Magnetic Ride Control.

The interior of the previous Camaro left much to be desired, with its odd ergonomics and retro-above-all-else design. The new model’s cabin benefits tremendously from the redesign and is clean, functional, modern, and spacious.

What's it like?

Sitting behind the wheel, we were immediately impressed with the interior, particularly the improved driver interface. The experience of sitting lower in the car transforms the experience from that of being in an average cockpit to being in a place where the serious driver can get down to business.

Our test drive was limited to reasonably paced laps of the IndyCar circuit at Detroit’s Belle Isle. Chevrolet proffered time behind the wheel of the V6-equipped 2015 model, which felt adequate around the walled Motown course, but immediately upon touching the throttle of the 2016-spec prototype, it was long forgotten.

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The automatic shifts quickly and holds gears through corners, as if its go-faster algorithms were programmed by Chevy’s racing drivers, yet it changes gear smoothly, as GM’s automatics are revered to do.

The new car’s lesser weight and suspension tuning is a slap in the face for the old car. Turn-in response is noticeably quicker in the new car, while body and wheel control are dramatically improved. Where the old car felt sloppy and unrefined, the new model has remarkable precision and holds a line through any corner very keenly indeed.

Should I buy one?

Based on this very early drive, Chevy has set its sights on something higher than the latest Ford Mustang. While this new Camaro is now as light as the Mustang, the more powerful V6 and V8 engines of the Chevy will dictate the winner, at least on the drag strip.

Although the interior is a little narrower and the new platform renders the rear seats unusable for human transport, the overall package could be the pinnacle of American pony cars.

Brian Makse

2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6

Location Detroit; On sale Early 2016; Price £34,000 est.; Engine V6, 3640cc, petrol; Power 335bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 285lb ft at 5300rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1601kg (est); Top speed na; 0-62mph 5.7sec (est); Economy 30mpg (combined, est.); CO2/tax band na

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275not599 19 May 2015

For the "serious driver to

For the "serious driver to get down to business" it would be helpful if the view out was better than the one experienced by a jousting knight with his visor down. Surprised you didn't mention this as it has always been a criticism of the old car and is again being much commented upon in the US press.
Einarbb 19 May 2015

If the new GM pony car outperforms...

...Ford will up it's ante, raising the power of Mustang's engines. Or that sounds like a very safe bet.
Andrew Lee 18 May 2015


Doesn't it have ANY faults? Oh yes, the useless back seat. Anyway I love it: mean and modern whereas the Mustang looks hidebound by tradition.