Chevrolet’s Camaro SS may be world’s best sport coupe – Detroit Free Press
Lightweight chassis, advanced features make Chevy’s pony car a BMW-beater.
Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press
Lighter, faster and more sophisticated, the ★★★★ 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS breaks out of the pony car corral to outrun Thoroughbreds like the BMW M4 and Lexus RC F.
The days when people could dismiss the Camaro as a muscle car – fast, but uncouth – are over. The 2016 Camaro is new from the ground up, radically different and better, but still obviously a Chevrolet. It uses a lightweight architecture that also underpins a pair of world-class luxury sport sedans, the Cadillac ATS and CTS.
There’s no visual similarity among the three cars, but they share some chassis structures and technologies. That helps explain how a $45,100 Chevy can offer an adaptive suspension that’s more advanced than the $65,700 M4.
The M4, if you’re among those bewildered by BMW’s multiplicity of models, is the sport coupe previously known as the M3.
In addition to the M4, the 2016 Camaro competes with sport coupes like the Audi S5, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Ford Mustang GT and Lexus RC F. That’s a small and elite group, and the Chevrolet leads it in many respects.
Camaro prices start at $25,700 for a base model powered by a new 275-hp turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all Camaros. A quick-shifting eight-speed automatic is a $1,495 option. Moving up to a 335-hp 3.6L V6 also costs $1,495.
The V8 Camaro SS starts at $36,300. It comes with a 6.2L V8 that produces 455 hp and 455 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet also builds a Camaro convertible.
I tested a well-equipped Camaro SS coupe with the manual transmission, Apple CarPlay, navigation, 4G LTE w-fi hotspot, blind spot alert, Bose audio, 20-inch five-spoke low-gloss black aluminum wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, backup camera and more.
It stickered at $45,100. All prices exclude destination charges.
The Camaro SS costs thousands less than comparably equipped models of the S5, M3, Challenger SRT8 and RC F. Mustang GT prices are competitive.
Unable to leave well enough alone, Chevy will add a 640-hp ZL1 model with a supercharged SS V8, six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic later this year.
We’ll deal with the ZL1 when it arrives, assuming one slows down enough for us to catch a glimpse. Until then, we’ll make do with the SS’s M4-beating 4.0-second 0-60 time. Not to mention the Chevy’s sharp steering, Velcro road holding, and four-piston Brembo brakes.
The Camaro SS looks great whether parked or at full tilt. Looking out of the low, wide sport coupe is another matter. Chevrolet has decided the Camaro’s looks depend on a low roof, fast windshield, rising beltline and high deck. All those elements reduce visibility, to the point that nobody should buy a Camaro without the optional blind spot and cross traffic alerts. A backup camera is standard.
The front seat is comfortable, but without much storage for phones, glasses and the like. Rear legroom is minimal. The controls are big and legible. Chevrolet’s combination of good voice recognition, a big touch screen, Apple CarPlay and convenient controls for volume, tuning and climate is outstanding.
The trunk is small but consistent with most cars in the segment. Its lid, however, is small and inconveniently located in the top of the rear deck. Many Camaro owners will probably use the small back seat as a parcel shelf for.
The SS V8 generates more power than all the competitors except the RC F and Challenger SRT8. The lightweight chassis – about 230 pounds lighter than a manual transmission ’15 SS – gives the SS the best power-top-weight ratio in the class.
The EPA rates the 2016 Camaro SS at 16 mpg in the city, 25 of the highway and 19 combined. The combined figure is 1 mpg worse than the S5 and M3, 2 mpg better than the Challenger SRT8 and matches the Mustang GT and RC F. The Mustang is the only one that gets its rated power and fuel economy with regular gasoline. The others all specify premium.
Classic looks, modern features and value combine to make the new Camaro a contender not just for best pony car, but for the best sport coupe in the world.
Contact Mark Phelan: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
Behind the Wheel
2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Rear-wheel-drive 2+2 sport coupe
Price as tested: $45,100 (excluding destination charge)
Rating: ★★★★ (Out of four stars)
Reasons to buy: Performance; looks; value
Shortcomings: Visibility; rear leg room; trunk size
Competitive EPA fuel economy ratings
(Manual transmission models where available)
Chevrolet Camaro SS: 16 mpg city/25 highway/19 combined. Premium gasoline.
Audi S5 Prestige: 17/26/20. Premium gasoline.
BMW M4: 17/26/20. Premium gasoline.
Dodge Challenger SRT8: 14/23/17. Premium gasoline.
Ford Mustang GT Premium: 15/25/19. Regular gasoline.
Lexus RC F (automatic transmission): 16/25/19. Premium gasoline.
Comparative base prices (excluding destination charges)
(Manual transmission models where available)
Chevrolet Camaro SS: $41,300
Audi S5 Prestige: $53,100
BMW M4: $65,700
Dodge Challenger SRT8: $49,195
Ford Mustang GT Premium: $36,395
Lexus RC F (automatic transmission): $62,805
Specifications as tested
Engine: 6.2L 16-valve V8
Power: 455 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 455 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Wheelbase: 110.7 inches
Length: 188.3 inches
Width: 74.7 inches
Height: 53.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,668 lbs.
Where assembled: Lansing, Mich.
Key features on vehicle tested
Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control; curtain air bags; front seat side air bags; front seat knee air bags; Brembo 4-piston brakes; blind spot and cross traffic alerts; rear parking sensor; backup camera; battery rundown protection; active rev matching manual transmission; limited slip differential; capless fueling; run flat tires; engine oil cooler; HID headlamps; LED signature lights; LED tail lights; LED daytime running lights; power mirrors, locks and windows; pushbutton start; 8-way power driver seat; 6-way power passenger seat; heated and ventilated front seats; dual zone automatic climate control; heated steering wheel; Bose audio; head-up display; auto-dimming mirrors; memory for driver settings; lighted sill plates; wireless phone charger; 8-in. touch screen; interior spectrum lighting; Bluetooth phone and audio compatible; Apple CarPlay; 1 year SM satellite radio; 6 months OnStar navigation service; 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot
Options: Magnetic ride control; dual mode performance exhaust ceramic white interior accent trim package; 20-inch low-gloss black aluminum wheels; front license plate bracket.