At long last, Chevrolet has opened the doors to its long awaited 2010 Camaro sport coupe.
Chevy's new two-door is...very good. Very, very, very good.
The 99% prototype is a little rough around the edges, not all parts to production shape, some interior bits held in place with double-sided tape while engineers tweak the final pieces, however in terms of hardware it's an “almost there" Camaro. Only minor tweaks left to do, this car will be available by March.
For the test drive, Chevy served up the base, V-6 version of its new ponycar (V-8 will follow in about two months), but the V6 is no disappointment. The base engine is the same DOHC, 24-valve 3.6L V-6 that serves in the Cadillac CTS which was the 2008 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Rigged with variable valve timing and direct injection, this high-tech beauty will fly with more than 300 hp (final output is still to be determined) and should deliver EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings of least 18/26 mpg although Chevy is aiming for 19/27 mpg.
The development was left in the hands of a dedicated team of Aussies who have a passion for building fast, rear-drive cars for Holden, a division of GM. They worked hard to get project money spent where it would do the most good. The result is a premium engine, sophisticated chassis moves, a body style that shouts muscle and performance.
Two six-speeds will be offered with the V-6 an Aisin manual and a Hydro Matic automatic with wheel-mounted manual shift buttons (the V-8 manual will be a Tremec unit). All base Camaros will be equipped with an FE2 suspension package, though chief engineer Doug Houlihan says Chevy is "considering" adding, as an option, the uprated FE3 suspension that'll be standard on V-8 cars. Base tires are 245/55R18 M+S BFGoodrich Traction T/As on 18-in. alloys; optional rubber will include 19- and 20-in. Pirellis (the latter available in summer or snow versions) plus an available 21-in. wheel-and-tire upgrade (summer only). Brakes are single-piston calipers all around, with cast-iron rotors (12.6 in.) up front and aluminum discs (12.4 in.) in back. (All Camaro V-8s will sport bigger, four-piston Brembo binders and a larger master cylinder for improved brake feel.) An optional RS package will include the 20-in. rims plus HID headlamps, a rear spoiler, and door-sill trim, among other upgrades.
Inside, the 2010 Camaro recalls a slight taste of the '67 model that inspired it, with sharp primary instruments plus a rectangular cluster of four secondary gauges in the center console. However, it's far too stylish and modern to appear "retro." The steering wheel is unique to the new Camaro, another reminder of project cash well spent. Seats will be trimmed in cloth or optional leather. The wheel is a tilt-telescoping model, which together with the smartly placed pedals helps deliver a near-ideal driving position.
The production car will likely emit a more baritone growl but as it stands, sounds more like a Japanese car. Prepare to be surprised.
Chevy is currently recording 0-to-60-mph in about 6.1 sec or so, but the goal is to break the six-second barrier. Top speed, is an electronically limited 155 mph. With the V-6, both transmissions are superb, the automatic responding quickly to shift-button commands and the manual smooth and slick (pedals are well-placed for heel-and-toe downshifts).
When outfitted with 18-in. wheels and tires and the V-6, the Camaro may wear a "base car" label, but you'd never know it by the drive. The hydraulic power steering delivers excellent feel, with instant response and plenty of mid-corner feedback. The chassis, powers through bends with a level of grip that simply obliterates any "base car" notions. Even pushed as hard as you'd dare on public roads, the Goodriches rarely protest or slip, instead digging in and hugging the road like a long lost relative. Stability control steps in only mildly, catching minor missteps. Body rigidity is exemplary, too. The Mustang can only dream of delivering handling at this level of performance and sophistication.
With moves like this in the entry Camaro, base price in the mid-to-low $20s, it's drool-inspiring to imagine what the car will do with, say, the optional 20-in. summer rubber (not to mention the mega-output V-8s with FE3 chassis tuning). What's more, even in "stripped" form the Camaro feels distinctly upmarket. Wind noise is almost nonexistent. The ride polishes off road imperfections while remaining poised to spring, catlike, to quick steering inputs. Brakes are sturdy and bite hard early into the pedal's travel. Remember, this is based on the V6 version, considered the “base” model. We eagerly await that V8 with FE3 chassis tuning.
This will please the pony car enthusiast and will give Ford and Dodge a run for their money.
Base Price $24,000 (est)
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe
Engine 3.6L/310-hp (est)/270 lb-ft (est) DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3750 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 112.3 in
Length x width x height 190.4 x 75.5 x 54.2 in
0-60 mph 6.1 sec (mfr est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/26 (est)
CO2 emissions 0.93 lb/mile (est)
On sale in U.S. March 2009