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.