Ah, Santa Monica, with your sunshine and palm trees— what better place for a ride in a shiny new 2016 Camaro. One thing is clear on initial inspection: the new car doesn’t particularly seem smaller than the last, but it’s five centimetres shorter and 91 kilograms lighter, depending on model and options. And while it’s certainly identifiable as “the new Camaro” one of the most significant changes arrives under the hood of the base car, with Camaro’s first-ever turbo, a force-fed 2.0L that makes 275 hp and 400 Nm, while sprinting to 100kph from dead stop in “well under 6 seconds,” as per Chevrolet.
Over the next few days, driving from the tangle of LA, to the desert of Nevada, the car is like a new friend. Under the hood is GM’s 3.6L V-6, GM’s first go at cylinder deactivation in a six pot. This modern, technology enhanced engine is SAE-certified for 335 hp and 385 Nm, giving Chevy claim to “the highest specific output of any naturally aspirated V-6 in the segment.” Obviously Mustang is a notable rival, with Challenger marching to a slightly different drummer, so it’s worth mentioning that Ford positions their four-cylinder Ecoboost turbo engine as their mid-level variant, while Camaro follows the more traditional path: the engines get bigger as the price goes up. The 2016 Camaro SS is the most muscled of these cars, commanding a new 6.2L LT1 direct-injected Small Block V-8 for 455 hp and 617 Nm.
This new car’s multi-link MacPherson strut suspension claims Camaro specific geometry up front, meaning that a lot of thought has gone into the setup. According to Chevy, this double-pivot design offers “a more precise feeling of control, including more linear and communicative feel from the quick-ratio electric power steering system,” which strikes me as an eloquent way to differentiate between the old and new cars.
At Spring Mountain Raceway the Camaro SS car feels lighter, more planted, and sharper on turn in— all of which translates into more agility on road and track. With this more athletic version of the car and a bit more knowledge of the track I’m able to carry more speed through each turn, adding to my confidence as we approach the short track’s most severe corner. With one authoritative dab of the brakes the Camaro is settled enough to swing hard right, and I roll on the throttle, opening up as the steering comes back to true.
Between the track and the road drive I had enough time in the car to begin to assess its overall driving dynamics and feel, and can tell you that driving this new Chevy feels very very good. This new car is reason to be excited, and confirmation that the pony wars are hotter than ever, with a clear winner on the horizon: the consumer.
So much so that I have a strong recommendation— someone needs get this car out on a track and drive it back to back with a similarly specced Mustang and Challenger, for my money there’s a worthy contender on offer from each of Detroit’s “big three,” and I’d love to find out who gets to wear the crown.
Camaro price starts from DHS 135,000 to DHS 220,000