Showing posts with label Chevrolet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chevrolet. Show all posts

Saturday, 13 August 2011

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

Muscle cars have never coped well with having their tops clipped. Losing the roof rarely does a vehicle any favors in the rigidity department, but the high-horsepower, high-torque coupes of the last four decades took fiendish delight in twisting themselves into pretzels after a few enthusiastic throttle plunges. To make matters worse, frumpy, awkward-looking soft tops were never as attractive as the original tin. When it came time to design the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, the engineers at General Motors specifically aimed to avoid those pitfalls by drafting the chassis to field both coupe and convertible duties.

Long before the first test mule ever turned a tire, this coupe was designed to go topless, and the result is one of the more stable convertible platforms out there. With a little help from the minds behind the Chevrolet Corvette soft top, the retractable lid even offers the same sleek profile as the Camaro Coupe. That's not to say all is right in this cruising kingdom, though. Tough top-up visibility, a bulging waistline and an overly extroverted interior all work against the drop head. Even so, this is still a vehicle soaked in summertime. And whatdayaknow? The sun's out.

Part of the appeal of the fifth generation Camaro is the vehicle's concept-car aesthetics. With a low-slung roof line, high hip and plenty of sharp creases, it should be lounging under auto show lights instead of sulking in the Costco parking lot. The designers at Chevrolet managed to retain most of the coupe's presence thanks to the fact that both vehicles wear identical sheetmetal from the window sills down. Up above, a long, arching soft top still holds true to the profile of the coupe when in in place. The piece can be had in black or tan cloth as the buyer sees fit, and for the most part, the design is free of any odd bulges from protruding bows.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible side view2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible front view2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible rear view

Put the top down, and the Camaro Convertible takes on a much more swept look than its fixed-roof kin. The steeply angled windshield becomes more prominent without the burden of anchoring the top and the muscular hips over the rear fender arches define the vehicle's profile. It looks good, even if it is the size of a small river barge. At 190.4 inches long and 75.5 inches wide, the 'vert matches its coupe twin for length and girth, resulting in a vehicle that feels larger than life, even at a glance.

That theme continues on indoors. Thanks to a surprisingly wide cabin and a tall dash, it's hard not to feel like you're 12 years old sitting behind the wheel of your uncle's new car. That high hip line translates into a window sill that isn't made for resting your elbow, at least not without losing blood flow to your arm. Our 2011 tester also came with the highly-stylized but not overly comfortable steering wheel of the 2011 Coupe. General Motors has fixed that issue with a parts-bin piece on 2012 models, however.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible interior2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible front seats2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible gauges2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible interior door panel

The rest of the cabin feels much like the Camaro we know, with the notable exception that the rear seats are now significantly easier to access. With the top down, two adults had no problem sinking into the rear buckets, though the tight seating made for bruised hips on the side of the seatbelt buckle. Though legroom is cramped for rear passengers, there's enough space for young people and flexible adults. Our cabin came awash in some impressively obnoxious orange plastic trim and leather seating surfaces, though we do appreciate the attractive orange contrast stitching on the door panels.

Unlike the Corvette Convertible, which relies on a button tucked well below and to the left of the steering wheel to operate the retractable soft top, the Camaro Convertible leaves its button out in the open and right beside the large center latch. Undo the mechanism, press the button and listen to the whir of electronic and pneumatic wizardry as it pulls the top into the trunk cavity. The whole process takes around 20 seconds, which sounds brief enough until the skies open up on all that orange leather. Once the top is stowed, an optional toneau cover can be folded in place for a clean, finished look, though the piece is an aggravation to install. Check out the Short Cut below for a look at the top in action.

Those who thought rearward visibility of the coupe couldn't get any worse need only to throw the convertible into Reverse with the top up to see just how wrong they were. The infamously lengthy C pillars of the hard top have somehow swollen in the convertible, and while the back glass looks large enough, its angle and height make for a narrow field of view.

GM equipped this particular SS-branded beast with a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 engine with 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The duo is the most desirable engine and gearbox combination available and is borrowed straight from the coupe. There are some mechanical differences between the two, however. Engineers added additional bracing in four key areas to give the Convertible as much of the rigid feel of the coupe as possible. A sturdy aluminum strut tower brace, a transmission support reinforcement brace, an underbody tunnel brace and front and rear underbody V braces are all tacked in place to combat torsional flex. The company says that all of the work helps give the Camaro Convertible the same stiffness as the BMW 3 Series convertible.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible engine

While we didn't have the pleasure of putting a 335i Convertible through its paces against the big Bow Tie (probably a good thing), we will say that the engineering work paid off. Typically, wrenching the roof off a coupe leads to dreaded cowl and column shake as the chassis contorts over rough road surfaces. The typical engineering response is to soften the springs and dampers to the point that the effects are less pronounced. GM is proud to remind us that the Camaro Convertible uses the exact same spring and damper rates as the hard top, which results in an incredibly similar driving experience. Under most normal circumstances, there's little telling the two apart. Only under some serious thrashing did we notice even a hint of column shake during a deeply-cambered downhill right – a situation that the vast majority of Camaro Convertible buyers will never find themselves in.

While the standard Camaro is no great pantheon of handling, the fact that its large, topless sibling can come close to matching pace is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the convertible is lugging around a substantially larger curb weight, which colors the driving experience accordingly. According to GM, the Camaro SS Convertible tips the scales at 4,116 pounds in our tester's spec. That's a full 267 pounds heavier than the SS Coupe, with most of that weight lodged over the rear axle. As a result, acceleration feels somewhat dulled even though GM claims that the vehicle can get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds – two-tenths of a seconds slower than the hard top. The convertible simply feels heavy to drive, with braking, cornering and straight-line grunt all taking a hit.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible headlight2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible wheel2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible taillights

But the Camaro Convertible does well as a comfortable cruiser and there's no denying how good it looks cruising through town or rolling down a deserted highway at dusk. The optional high-intensity discharge headlights of the RS package on our tester are appropriately threatening with their halo ring and the long, lunging hood is unmistakably Muscle. With an as-tested MSRP of $42,995 including the $850 destination fee, the exterior was covered in a black vinyl stripe package, while the loud orange interior accent package rang up an additional $500, with another $1,200 for the RS package.

GM doesn't seem to be trying to convince anyone that the figure is a small price. In fact, the company calls the BMW 3 Series convertible its chief competitor instead of the Ford Mustang GT Convertible. The latter will cost you $38,310 plus destination for a GT Premium Convertible while the German commands a lofty $46,450 plus destination for the significantly less powerful 328i Convertible.

So where does that put the Camaro SS Convertible? Buyers seeking the near irresistible nostalgia of the coupe combined with the joy of being able to put the top down will find exactly what they're looking for. It easily trades its performance credentials for cruising machismo, and in a machine like this, that's no slight.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

GM releases another shot of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will be unveiled on Monday at the Shanghai Motor Show. General Motors is expectedly making a big deal of the event, and started dropping teasers a couple weeks back. Those were followed by a full-on, high-resolution pic of the Malibu in red on Thursday. And now? Another picture of the China-spec car in blue. Since it’s static, we get a clean look at the new Malibu’s wheels and a better idea of the car’s profile

If you feel like you’re already overstuffed on the 2013 Malibu, try to save some room for the main course, which comes in the form of the sedan’s official debut in Shanghai.

[Source: GM via EGM Car Tech]

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Review: 2011 Chevrolet Volt

There’s something to be said for being at the right place at the right time. Had our primordial ancestors evolved legs and lungs while the entire globe was still awash in warm sea water, they would have gone belly up and we might have never made it to the top of the food chain. At this point in history, our entire species can thank generations of ancestors for not being squished, drowned, beaten, eaten or stabbed before cranking out offspring that would further the human race. One misstep to the left could have been all it took to eradicate entire lines of Homo sapiens progress.

Those same laws of luck and fortune dictate which automotive traits will survive into the future and which will be left to be bookmarks of curiosity in the mechanical fossil record. General Motors knows this all too well. The company infamously birthed the EV1 in the mid-’90s only to find that its high costs of development meant the short-range electric couldn’t keep its head above water in a sea of relatively cheap fuel prices. At the time, there just wasn’t any land in sight for the electric movement.

What a difference 15 years make. Thanks to the trailblazing efforts of the hybrid fleet, more and more Americans now associate efficiency with electric power, and General Motors has given rise to what could possibly be the perfect evolutionary species to bridge the gap between hybrid and full-electric motivation – the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

It’s been four years since General Motors first pulled back the sheets on the original Chevrolet Volt Concept. As you likely recall, that vehicle was a stylized dream that wore a vertical nose, high belt-line, chopped roof and massive wheels for a look that was, in a word, awesome. The concept was downright muscular and served as an excellent counterpoint to the econo-blob styling of the Toyota Prius at the time. Unfortunately, nearly all of the brawny build of the Volt Concept never quite made it to the production world.

Instead, the designers at GM were confined by the laws of aerodynamics, which means that the production Volt wears a shape that’s very similar to what Toyota came up with for its battery-assisted wonder child. At 177.1-inches long, the Volt is around four inches shorter than its platform mate, the compact Chevrolet Cruze, and 1.5 inches longer than the current generation Prius. The front fascia is appropriately swept into the hood and fenders with wrapped projector headlamps and a shield grille help to give the electrified four-door one of the lowest drag coefficients of any vehicle GM has ever produced. Only the low-slung Corvette rivals the 0.287 Cd of the Volt.

2011 Chevrolet Volt side view2011 Chevrolet Volt front view2011 Chevrolet Volt rear view

Even with all of its slippery concessions, the Volt is an attractive enough vehicle. Our tester came with 17-inch chrome-clad wheels that added a splash of style to the judicious use of chrome and piano-black plastic along the window line. The vehicle’s tall, abrupt Kamm tail rear takes some getting used to, especially with its slit brake lamps and somewhat awkward spoiler, but the design does have the effect of differentiating the Volt from the rest of North America’s roadgoing hardware.

Jump inside and it’s even clearer that you aren’t driving a run-of-the-mill internal-combustion mule. The center stack is awash in capacitive-touch controls that are simple to navigate if not difficult to read during daylight hours. At night, excellent back-lighting makes the small text labels somewhat easier to translate. A large LCD touchscreen handles everything from climate, navigation and audio information to data on the vehicle’s state of charge and efficiency, and the interface is perfectly intuitive.

Unfortunately, in what must have been a quest to skimp on weight and cost, GM built the cabin of the Volt with materials that would be more at home on a humble Cobalt. Hard, dark plastics abound as far as the eye can see, and while they’re nicely grained, they do little to make drivers feel any better about the vehicle’s lofty price tag.

2011 Chevrolet Volt interior

We do have to give GM praise for the location of the vehicle’s start button, though. Mounted just north and to the left of the shifter, the button is at perfect thumb level. There’s no fumbling around or craning your neck in an attempt to find switchgear stashed behind the steering wheel. Here’s hoping that little trick begins finding its way to other products soon.

GM has also opted for a complete LCD gauge cluster in place of any standard dials. Those nostalgic for the old kit can give it up. The screen organizes and displays a wealth of information clearly and accurately, with vehicle speed represented in large, easy to read numerals above all else. We have to imagine that even if the Volt drivetrain doesn’t spread to the rest of the GM fleet, elements of its instrument cluster surely will.

2011 Chevrolet Volt start button2011 Chevrolet Volt gauge cluster

We were treated to optional leather seating in our time with the Volt, and the light cream-colored thrones did much to brighten the otherwise dark interior. GM hasn’t skimped on details with the Volt, and the double-stitched seats include one line of electric blue thread that’s a particularly nice touch. Rear passengers will find somewhat cramped leg room and no comfortable place to put their inboard elbows, but there’s enough space up top to keep even the cast of Jersey Shore from scraping their hair on the headliner.

Interestingly enough, GM has opted to build the Volt as a hatchback. The rear cargo area offers around 10.6 cubic feet of room, which is plenty for stashing groceries and the like. Our only real issue with the design is that the hatch weighs a ton. Even with gas struts to assist in lifting and lowering the piece, it’s difficult to keep from slamming the door without using both hands. Additionally, with no partition to separate the cabin from the aft area, tire noise is especially prominent at highway speeds.

2011 Chevrolet Volt front seats2011 Chevrolet Volt rear cargo area

Under the hood, GM has stashed a tangle of technological wizardry. At its heart, the Volt uses a three powerplant system to get down the road. With a fully charged battery, the vehicle gets its gusto from an 111kw traction motor. Additionally, a 55kw electric generator is also onboard. Clutched to a 84-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, the generator can jump in to provide power to both the battery and the traction motor at the same time should conditions warrant an extra push of power. Should the batteries drop to a certain predetermined state of charge, the internal combustion mill will jump in to generate electricity to power the front wheels.

GM has graced the Volt with a lithium-ion battery system that the company claims has no memory. That means that it doesn’t have to be fully drained in order to receive the most efficient charge possible. The tech also allows for rapid energy release – something that’s essential for all-electric power at highway speeds. The Volt can be charged using either a 120v plug or a 240v outlet. We were only able to dabble with the first option, and as such, we saw complete-drain charge times of around 10 hours through a standard household outlet. That’s a long time, especially considering that you’re only rewarded about 36 miles of all-electric range for your patience. The good news is that the 240v option will top off the cells in right around four hours. If you’re going to be parking a Volt in your garage with any frequency, make sure there’s a 240v plug nearby.

2011 Chevrolet Volt engine

For all of the bellyaching that we could work up over how long it takes to fully charge the Volt, GM has done an amazing job of building an EV that drives just like any other vehicle on the road. Acceleration isn’t exactly neck-snapping by any means, but if you get frisky with the accelerator, you will be rewarded with a few quick spins of the low-rolling resistance Goodyear Assurance tires. The jump to 60 miles per hour takes around 8.53 seconds in the optional Sport mode, but plan for a little more time in the Normal drive configuration.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that should you need an extra shot of power for a quick pass on the interstate, the Volt will happily oblige. Torque from the 111 kw motor is always at the ready, and while acceleration seems to level off quickly, there’s enough on hand to get you out of trouble. Likewise, the engineers at GM did an excellent job working up the brakes to feel just as linear and progressive as anything you’d find on a standard vehicle. Despite being regenerative, the stoppers never felt grabby or clunky in anyway. Pedal feel is always firm and confidence-inspiring, which is great considering that the Volt tips the scales at a portly 3,781 pounds.

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port2011 Chevrolet Volt charging converter

That’s plenty of mass to carry around, and combined with the fling-averse tires, it’s clear that the Volt is never going to be mixing it up on the dance floor with any sports sedans. Get too froggy with the wheel and you’ll quickly be reminded of just how much this vehicle weighs.

But that’s clearly not what the Volt is all about. Under a full-head of electric steam, the Volt is beautifully quiet in city driving up to around 40 mph. Once the speedometer ticks past 50 mph, there’s a noticeable amount of tire and wind noise, though the vehicle never feels taxed or uncomfortable. Again, it’s a level of refinement typically associated with the compact segment, not vehicles with an MSRP north of $40,000 like the Volt, but with the drone of an internal combustion powertrain absent in EV mode, outside factors like air and road noise can’t help but become more prominent.

2011 Chevrolet Volt headlight2011 Chevrolet Volt badge2011 Chevrolet Volt wheel2011 Chevrolet Volt taillight

GM has aced the logic behind the range estimation for all-electric power. If the screen says you have 36 miles before the internal combustion engine kicks in, you can feel safe betting your first born that you won’t run of juice before then – a small detail that builds big confidence in the viability of getting where you’re going.

Once you do drain the battery cells, the 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks in to generate more electricity. While the small four-cylinder isn’t crude by any means, there’s little insulating driver and occupants from its vibration once it gets going. We’ve never noticed just how harsh an internal combustion engine can be until we’d been romanced by the smoothness of 36 miles of EV driving. We almost felt embarrassed every time the engine came on, like someone had just pointed out a lengthy piece of toilet paper glued to the bottom of our shoes.

We drove the Volt over the course of four days and put around 165 miles on the clock in mixed driving. During that time, we purposefully drained the battery a few times in order to give the 1.4-liter engine a workout, but also kept the vehicle on the charger and in a climate-controlled garage when not in use. At the end of our stint, we burnt a whopping 2.064 gallons of premium fuel for a final average of 79.94 mpg. Of course, we’ll have to wait for our next power bill to know exactly how much that stellar fuel economy cost us.

2011 Chevrolet Volt battery info

When GM first showed off the Volt Concept, it lurked on stage with a sexy white cord coiled daintily beside the front wheel indicating just how easy it would be to charge your car instead of filling up its tank. While the Volt is about as easy to charge as your cell phone, there is some aggravation involved. For starters, the vehicle requires a clunky adapter that roughly resembles Officer URL – the glowing face of law and order from Futurama. Coiling and uncoiling the meaty orange cord from the converter requires some coordination, especially if you happen to be juggling a bag of groceries at the same time. What you’re left with is a long cord strewn in front of the driver’s door just waiting to ensnare the clumsy or calamitous.

Still, it’s easy to tell when the vehicle is charging thanks to a series of lights and honks from the vehicle itself. The good news is that we never had any issues charging the Volt during our time with the vehicle. Simply plug in the converter, click it into the car and go on your merry way.

We won’t completely dive into the EV debate here. That’s an argument best left to the well-educated pages of AutoblogGreen. While we have our reservations about digging up massive quantities of lithium and coal simply to serve our transportation needs, the Volt is nothing less than an amazing piece of engineering. Quite simply, GM has pulled off something worthy of all the accolades heaped on this vehicle’s hood. Nearly 80 mpg is nothing to scoff at, and we’re guessing that the figure would likely climb if we were simply using the Volt to dart back and forth from work instead of running weekend errands all over creation.

2011 Chevrolet Volt rear 3/4 view

Ecological concerns aside, the only hitch in this giddyup is the price tag that the Volt carries. With optional equipment like leather, 17-inch wheels, rear-view camera and the sultry Crystal Red Metallic paint of our tester, final coin for this machine sits at $44,180 with destination. That’s a fat stack of cash, especially considering that the much larger Toyota Camry Hybrid starts at $27,435 with destination and promises 33.5 mpg combined. Likewise, Hyundai only asks $26,545 with destination for its 37.5 mpg-capable Sonata Hybrid. It doesn’t take any advanced mathematics to realize that the nearly $13,000 premium it takes to score a Volt over a Camry Hybrid would buy a lot of gasoline, even at Road Warrior prices.

That said, Uncle Sam really wants you to buy vehicles like the Volt, which is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax rebate, as well additional state and local rebates depending on where you live. Some residents of Lansing, Michigan, for instance, are eligible for up to $15,000 worth of rebates on the Volt. GM also plans to cut the Volt’s price when production ramps up and the technology spreads to other platforms.

So where does the Volt fit in the evolutionary spectrum of personal transportation? Though it’s priced for early adopters, the vehicle demands few concessions from owners coming directly from hybrid or internal combustion vehicles. We’ve heard word that GM is planning to up production of the vehicle to 12,000 units by 2012, which means that the automaker is anticipating steeper demand connected to ever loftier fuel prices. Though the Volt seems to be serving as the missing link between our transportation right now and full electrification, the price will have to drop before we see them wheeling around every corner.

[Source: autoblog]

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet Camaro SSX Concept

Chevrolet has made it clear that the company has a strong interest in helping owners get the most out of vehicles like the Corvette and the Camaro on a race track. While the epic Corvette Z06X Concept was seemingly envisioned as the Bow Tie answer to the Dodge Viper ACR-X, Chevrolet is showing the Camaro similar love via the SSX Concept. The car makes use of a host of carbon fiber in places like the trunk lid, hood, fenders and doors to keep weight as low as possible, and while the company isn't saying exactly how many pounds it managed to shed compared to the standard SS, we've got to imagine that the figure is far from insubstantial.

In addition to putting the Camaro on a diet, Chevrolet also took it upon itself to play havoc with the 6.2-liter under the hood by bolting on tricks like new CNC aluminum cylinder heads, sliding in a new camshaft and swapping in a dry-sump oil system. Make no mistake, with around 524 horsepower on tap, this dog will hunt.

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet Corvette Z06X Concept

Chevrolet was kind enough to give us a sneak sampling of what the company has planned for SEMA 2010, and the star of the show looks to be the car you see above. Called the Corvette Z06X, the bruiser is effectively a race-ready behemoth with a host of suspension tweaks and a slew of weight-reducing materials on board. Built by the Corvette legends at Pratt and Miller, this Satin White machine started its life as a Z06 with the CFZ carbon-fiber package. Throw in an adjustable rear wing borrowed straight from the C6R along with a full SCCA roll cage and you've got the bones for go-fast trackday goodness.

Under the hood, the standard LS7 V8 benefits from a new low-restriction intake and a more robust coolant system. The suspension wizards at PFADT were so kind as to supply a set of mono-ball control arm bushings, adjustable stabilizer bars and a complete coilover suspension, too.

Chevrolet has also bolted on a new raised carbon-fiber hood along with carbon headlight housings to shave a few pounds. The biggest weight savings, however, has to come from the polycarbonate rear window which is also lifted straight from the C6R.

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet unveils custom 2011 Camaros

The Red Flash Show Camaro is a look-at-me V8-powered coupe that will certainly grab your attention out on the road thanks to its modified intake and exhaust system. On the other end of the spectrum is the XM/Accessory Appearance Package V6 Camaro that goes for a more subtle, not-so-flashy styling upgrade. The Synergy Series Camaro is the second version of a once-per-year limited-edition, and it features interior and exterior colors not available on any other model in the Camaro range. Finally, the SSX Track Car Concept rumbles on to the SEMA floor to tease us with the idea of a purpose-built track-day machine

SEMA 2010: 1955 Chevrolet E-Rod LS3 Pickup

While the wicked E-Rod LSA found its way into a Superformance Grand Sport Coupe at this year's SEMA show, General Motors decided to plop the company's new E-Rod LS3 into something a little more traditional. GM yanked the sheets off of an expertly-crafted 1955 Chevrolet pickup street rod. The project started by mating a minty-fresh Dynacorn body with the chassis of a Trailblazer SS. Throw in a 315-horsepower, 335-pound-feet of torque E-Rod LS3 and you've got the basic ingredients for one very lust-worthy pickup.

GM says that the new E-Rod LS3 will command a price tag of $7,150 when it arrives in 2011.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Review: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro has taken so long to get to here we wouldn't be surprised if Caravaggio did the original sketches. We wanted the car when we first saw it back in 6 B.C. We drove prototypes sometime around the Norman Conquest. And now it's finally on the streets. It seems like a mighty long time, but a Camaro SS finally found its way into our hands and it was like being delivered a mail-order bride we'd been corresponding with for ages, begging, "Please, just get here." But how long would our honeymoon last? Or would there be one at all? We hit the road to find out.

The largest potential impediment to a successful honeymoon for us and our Camaro bride was the memory of our first date. See, we had met once, in a distant land – well, San Diego – for the car's launch. And we have to admit we couldn't get the hang of it. The Camaro felt awesome in a straight line, perfect for devouring long, Midwestern B-roads where its true base will use it to make the leaves and homecoming queens tremble. But then we'd get to a kink in the road and things would fall apart. Numbness seemed to be the order du jour and the next thing we knew we were veering off into the oncoming lane. After experiencing the same sensation time and time again, it was obvious there was a disconnect between what we were doing and what the car was doing, but were weren't sure if it was us or the Camaro. By the end of the day, we crawled through any sharp, high-speed turn in a haze of reluctant frustration.

But you can't give up on a three-year love affair after one lackluster afternoon. We had to get one at home, spend some time with it, "get to know it" and then we could see if we just shared an off day together.

The Camaro has done the show circuit so long that belaboring its looks would be treading through old oatmeal, so we'll just make a couple of points. When our man Nunez drove the V6 RS, he commented on how close the six-pot was to the SS in appearance, with the front chin spoiler and rear diffuser insert being the major differences. He's right. It's really the wheels that make or break the Camaro, and if you get the RS package on the V6 you'll get the big spinners. But those minor aesthetic tweaks – the chin spoiler and (yes) fake hood scoop – make all the difference. It's subtle. Big and angry, but subtle.

On the inside, however, it's a mixed bag, with a big lump of coal at the bottom being the center console – embodied by the kind of display we haven't seen since our sixth grade alarm clock. It's novel and it isn't ugly, but every time we look at the gauges they scream, "This is where your money didn't go." And while we dig the combination of large buttons and dials for the radio and fan, the eight tiny buttons inside the knobs for specific vent and A/C settings required us to decipher each hieroglyph before we could pull away. Granted, if you've had your deposit in since the Ice Age and have finally taken delivery, you'll adapt. But getting acclimated takes a few tries and an occasional blast in the face from the A/C when you meant to deploy the defroster. Otherwise, the interior is fine – as long as you don't mind a lot of plastic.

The seats are large and relatively wide, though plenty comfy and still supportive when you need a hug. While the back seats are fine places to sit for short periods, if you're taller than 5' 9" you'll have to cock your head to the side, and if someone in front is over six foot tall, leg room gets decidedly spartan in quick order.

Although one of the Camaro's defining design elements is its high shoulder line and low greenhouse, you'll have to endure a few functional trade-offs. The low roof frame caused an occasional (and painful) head-to-headliner encounter when we leaned forward to look left, something we've only experienced when manning the helm of the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640.

The lower deck brings up another issue in the form of visibility, or better yet, opacity. At the four compass points, everything's fine. The rear window is smallish and the rearview mirror is... quaint, but everything you need to see is present and accounted for. However, we'd advise staying back when you get to intersections equipped with high-mounted traffic lights, otherwise they're out of sight and the horn orchestra is all too happy to let you know when things have changed from red to green.

If given enough fluting and capital, the A-pillar could do double-duty as an Ionic column. It's positively huge, and on curvy bits it always seems to be perfectly angled to stay between us and easy sight of the road, causing us to juke and jive for a clear view during mountain runs. By the same token, the blind spots are tremendous due to the massive width of the C-pillars. You can still get a bead on everything at your 5 and 7, but this isn't a quick flick over the shoulder and lane swap; it's look, check the mirror, look again, then ease over and listen for a crunch. It's the same experience the first time you pull out of an angled parking spot when you realize all you can do is say a prayer, roll down the windows and listen up. Thankfully, many of these shortcomings fall by the wayside once pointed straight and underway.

Our SS tester was fitted with the six-speed Tremec 6060, and it is a sweet-shifting transmission. Combined with gearing that's neither too short nor too long and 426 hp, you've got long, deep pulls through every ratio up to redline. Sadly, when you really get on it, the exhaust and sound deadening muffles the noise so thoroughly you can't hear the forces at your disposal.

The suspension veers toward sportiness, yet there's a healthy range in terms of comfort. The car can swallow all manner of bumps without saying, "All right, that hurt," unless they are exceptionally pointed or the sheer frequency gets ahead of the suspension's ability to keep things smooth. Freeways and long macadam roads are a breeze, but the real test comes in the canyons.

The Camaro's final exam was conducted on one of our favorite mountainous roads, and after a handful of corners we realized: Yes, we can make this relationship work. The steering is a tad numb on center, but turn it just a couple of degrees and it weights up quickly and smoothly; you know exactly where the wheels are and exactly where they're going to be.

Normally, our hands are planted at the 9 and 3 o'clock position, but the Camaro's tiller is so big we dropped them down to about 4:30 and 7:30 and simply fed the wheel through. For switchbacks we could throw a hand up and pull down, but the rack was quick enough to allow almost every turn to be handled by merely feeding line.

The gearing encouraged us to keep the car in second or third if the straights really opened up between corners. You could do a lot of shifting if you were trying to take home a trophy, but we found it much easier and just as satisfying to let the 426 horses do a little extra work when the revs got down below 2,500 RPM.

The Pirelli P Zeros (245/45 up front, 275/40 in back) ate it all up and didn't so much as grunt during the meal. By the time we were able to get some "We're really working now" noises out of the rubber, we'd approached the upper reaches of the Camaro's mechancial grip and understeer would come on in a smooth progression. At that point, you're a few clicks away from folly, but even then, the six-pot brakes up front and four-pots in the rears haul things down stupendously, and never faded on our runs up and over.

It was a glorious morning, and we basked in the afterglow when we got back. Until we got to the pump...

Gas gauges are, to be sure, imprecise things, but we've run the same stretch of canyon in numerous cars and we have never run out of gas as quickly as we did in the Camaro. On our first run we had an indicated quarter of a tank, but we had to stop before we even reached the top of the hill because the low fuel light came on. That's never happened before, but we're simultaneously unsurprised that it did.

She'll take you where you want to go and even do it just like you like... but you better make sure she's got a full tank.

When Alex drove the V6 RS, he said that model was the one to have if you were going to drive a Camaro every day. While we can understand his points, all of them valid... we say, "No way, Nunez." The SS is the one to get. The V6 might be almost as good for less money, but you just can't fake a V8; and at $35K for the kitted out version and that syrupy smooth six-speed, why should you? It isn't almost the thing, it is the thing... until the Z28 comes out.

[Source: Autoblog]