The styling changes seem a bit muddled, but thankfully they don’t undermine the Camaro’s jaw-dropping visual impact. The new bonnet adds even more aggression into the Camaro’s look, which suits it – but the chrome trims on the headlights and radiator are an attempt to add classiness at the same time, which simply doesn’t work.
This is a brash, brawny right hook of a car that needs ornamental brightwork about as much as a power lifter needs an anklet. The new multimedia system and instrumentation changes are more welcome, though – a much-needed injection of up-to-date technology in an interior that still lacks richness and tactile quality.
The mechanicals of the Camaro haven’t changed, and neither has the driving experience. The automatic gearbox functions well enough. It upshifts early in ‘D’, but has a manual mode with wheel-mounted paddle-shifters that deliver gearchanges slightly ponderously, but still quicker than you could change cogs in the manual. It will also hold a gear even at the redline in manual mode, which is the way we prefer it.
We still prefer the manual version though, not just because it’s more powerful than the auto, but because the more absorbing sense of interactivity it offers is a vital constituent of the Camaro’s mystique. This isn’t a sports car. It’s much too wide for even slightly narrow B-roads, it feels cumbersome in tight confines, and it has a very unyielding ride on bad surfaces, too.
The latter flaw is baffling, since it isn’t a problem our road test car suffered with nearly so badly. But, whether due to its particular wheel-and-tyre specification or something else, the 2014 Camaro seemed significantly firmer than our 2012 test car, and had a much less well-resolved ride. It skittered and pitched over uneven topography, even at fairly moderate speeds.
But, tackle a smoother, wider bit of tarmac and there’s still a rewarding experience to savour here. The engine serves up a wonderfully constant spread of accelerative pace from 3500rpm upwards, the car steers precisely and controls body roll well, and there’s enough power through second and third gears to alter your direction with the rear wheels as well as with the front ones.
The hydraulic power steering offers some feedback, though not quite as much as you might expect, and less at low speeds as the speed-dependent assistance levels ramp up. Brake pedal feel is good, but it’s when you’re stopping the car that you’re most aware of its considerable mass.