2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS First Drive
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro utilizes General Motors’ new Alpha platform, shared with the Cadillac ATS, and is vastly different than the previous generation’s aging Zeta platform. It’s lighter, 28 percent stiffer, and a bit smaller than before. And according to Chevrolet, the only parts that carried over from the previous Camaro are the Chevrolet emblem and SS badging.
A quick walkaround reveals a leaner, chiseled exterior with a sleeker, aerodynic front end with an aggressive, glowering headlamp treatment along with a snarling, aero-enhanced lower grille. Also up front, the refreshed Camaro features brake-cooling ductwork and hood vents that help keep the LT1 V8 a little cooler under pressure. Out back, the dual element rear taillights are somewhat evocative of the current Corvette Stingray. The SS also features a unique rear spoiler and dual splitter exhaust trumpets are integrated into the lower bumper. The side profile looks similar to the fifth generation model but is a bit more sculpted and chiseled. And since the 2016 Camaro SS is a bit smaller in proportion to the 2015 model, Chevy was able to dissect about 225 pounds from the car.
Opening the hood, an overwhelming sense of deja vu came over us. A strong sensation of familiarity; it’s like we’ve been here once before at another point in time. Maybe that’s because the Camaro shares the same LT1 6.2-liter direct injection V8 found in the C7 Corvette that we’ve previously tested. And just like the Corvette, the Camaro churns out the same 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque. No detuning or horsepower reduction this time around as in previous years for the Corvette’s younger sibling. Helping bring all this horsepower to the pavement is a Tremec six-speed manual transmission. With this engine and transmission combo, 0 to 60 is reached in a mere 4.1 seconds and a quarter mile sprint takes only 12.7 seconds to complete.
Driving the 2016 Camaro SS feels very little like driving the previous generation. Granted, it still has the rapid acceleration you’d expect but feels much nimbler and responsive than before. The new platform, weight reduction, and horsepower bump certainly don’t go unnoticed. The gearbox shifts as smooth as butter with short and precise throws and has a light clutch. What really sets this Camaro apart is the all-new driver mode selector which tailors the ride with four modes: Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport, and Track. Tour mode is great for everyday driving, commuting, and running errands around town. Sport mode works well on twisting roads by tightening up steering, firming upshifts, and adjusting throttle response. Track mode is pretty self-explanatory but does have an incredible exhaust tone and rumble. Our tester’s available magnetic ride control added an increased feeling of control when cornering and maneuvering through narrow, winding back roads. And speaking of back roads, we drove the Camaro down some of our favorite back roads south of Atlanta to see how well the car reacts around hairpin curves in Sport and Track mode. We’re glad to say the car didn’t fishtail like we thought it might and the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 tires held the road like super glue. Based on our experience, we strongly suggest paying the extra cost for magnetic ride control and the performance exhaust. These two features add so much to the driving experience and, in our opinion, are worth the extra cost. We would have loved to have had the Corvette’s Performance Data Recorder to play around with but it’s not available (at least not yet).
The new Camaro also handles everyday driving duties and commuting quite well. Here again is where the optional magnetic ride control works well by automatically adjusting the damper settings to smooth out the bumps and rough patches. The ride is much more comfortable and refined than that of the previous Camaro. It’s also not quite as stiff as the current Corvette Stingray. The new Alpha platform has given the new Camaro finesse and agility that it’s never had before.
The 2016 Camaro’s interior looks and feels very little like the outgoing 2015 model. Yes, the short side windows and small windshield are still there as well as the lack of decent rear visibility. Very little of the retro theme that was so prevalent in the previous generation can also be found. In its place are features such as an instrument cluster that features analog gauges as well as an available eight-inch center screen that can be configured to display key performance data. A feature that really stands out is the control rings around the air vents that control temperature and fan speed. This eliminates a lot of dashboard clutter and buttons that would otherwise have muddled up the dashboard. The quality of materials is another standout in the new Camaro. Much of the fifth generation’s hard plastic is replaced with soft touch materials on areas such as the doors and console. The heated and cooled seats are also much more comfortable than before and have just the right amount of bolstering.
We truly believe this new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is the best Camaro we’ve ever driven. Yes, it’s just that good. The switch to the new platform, beefier engine, and improved suspension are such an improvement over the previous Camaro. It exceeded our expectations on performance, style, and interior quality. It almost goes without saying that this new Camaro is finally a worthy contender to the Ford Mustang on every level. It also rivals cars like the BMW M4 on performance, build quality, and especially price. Go check out a new Camaro for yourself and we believe you’ll be a believer too!
2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe. Base Price: $41,300, As tested: $46,095. Includes: Magnetic Ride Control, $1,695; Dual-Mode Performance Exhaust, $895; Ceramic White Interior Accent Trim Package, $500; MyLink Audio System with Navigation, $495; Low Gloss Black Wheels, $200; Front License Plate Bracket, $15; Destination fee, $995.
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