Close to my heart |
One of the best aspects to the Chevrolet Camaro’s existence is the sheer variety
Just over a month ago, the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro was released and over the past season, we have sampled almost every iteration of the new Ford Mustang. Therefore, it was only fair for us to evaluate the outgoing model of the American muscle car that speaks to me the most. After all, my personal garage at home now has both a 1996 Camaro Z/28 as well as a 2010 Camaro SS. I brought home a 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible to do one last test of the “modern” model before the all-new one goes on sale.
The current Camaro was given a heavy refresh for the 2014 model year that included a new front fascia, new taillights, and subtle revisions throughout the car. I like these headlights a lot better, but I prefer the pre-facelift Corvette-style taillights. Even though the car is over half a decade with the current cycle, the design still looks fresh and modern, with edgy and angular lines that give a retro throwback to the iconic Camaro of the 1960s. I like the Dodge Challenger quite a bit, but the Camaro is the winner in the style department, bar none.
Powertrains remain the same for 2015, though the upcoming redesign changes around options considerably. As in past years, there is a V6 model available, but as a true Camaro junkie, I had to opt for the 6.2L V8. In convertible and automatic form, this engine is good for 400 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. I would have preferred the 6-speed manual transmission because I know how good it is when hustling this muscle car around my favourite country back roads, but the 6-speed automatic equipped with my test car is responsive. It’s also the choice most Canadians will opt for when spec’ing out their Camaro.
The 6.2L sounds great, as any eight-cylinder muscle car motor should, and the paddle shifters do a good job of responding to driver input. As a result, the Camaro moves well and makes awesome symphonies while doing it. I’ve long since grown out of the phase of modifying cars, but a well-done aftermarket exhaust would go a long way to improving the sound of the Camaro even more. With the top down, the soundtrack is already great, and I can only imagine how much better it would be if it made just a little bit more noise.
Many North Americans will opt for the convertible top thanks to the unmatched open air motoring experience it delivers. Additionally, the Camaro Coupé’s tiny windows take away from visibility, which is a non-existent problem with the top down. However, like any droptop version of a coupé, this body style comes with compromises in the handling and ride department. Those who haven’t driven the hardtop model won’t notice, but this convertible is a little floppier and does experience some flex. Ride quality is still good, but I can’t wait to drive the new 2016 model with the all-new chassis and dampers.
The convertible top system is actually pretty easy to use. With the car stopped, you lift and twist a handle located near the front map lights, and push and hold the button bearing markings of a convertible top. I recall the mechanism from the almost-identical Camaro I tested last summer operating faster, because the one in this car was rather slow. Despite its (lack of) speed, the roof retracts smoothly and does not impede on trunk space much at all. There is also a tonneau cover in the trunk that one can use to conceal the top when in the down position, because it tends to flap around a little bit at highway speeds.
Over about 500km of driving, just more than one combined cycle, I averaged 12.6L/100km. This is actually slightly better than I averaged last year with a similar car (13.0). I did a good amount of highway driving, and the cylinder deactivation system works very well. Chevrolet recommends 91-octane premium fuel with this car, and I noticed slight performance improvements as well as increased smoothness when I upped the ante by refueling it with Ultra 94. Okay, maybe my undying love for the Camaro lineage contributed to this decision a little bit.
Our tester was the Commemorative Edition, which, for an additional $2195, adds a unique accent stripe, the RS package lighting, 20” wheels, a rear spoiler, unique Adrenaline Red colour panels on the interior, and special badging on the fenders. It’s a subtle package but definitely important to the history of the Camaro. This is, of course, adding to the 2SS package that includes leather seats, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment with navigation, Boston Acoustics premium audio, and dual exhaust. Noteworthy: for an extra $4,970, Chevy allows you to opt for the six-piston front brake kit from the Camaro ZL1. Unfortunately, our car was not optioned with this.
Optioned the way it is, my Camaro sat right around the $55,000 mark, and that’s not a number I’d scoff at. This isn’t a car you purchase for value; it’s every bit a car you buy because it’s something you’re passionate about. My father is a huge Camaro nut who has owned countless models over the past few decades, and he’s a prime example of a loyal follower. No matter how good the new Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger might be, it’s not a Camaro. All three of these very important American muscle cars have their own devoted followers, and they’re never changing teams.
One of the best aspects to the Chevrolet Camaro’s existence is the sheer variety of models available. If you want a bare-bones track model, you can opt for the 1LE package on the hardtop SS, which strips out the interior and tweaks everything for performance. There is also the 7.0L Z/28 as well as the supercharged ZL1, both more individual models that express the brutal charm of the Camaro’s lineage. The SS remains my favourite, because it delivers the raw power of the V8 engine so important to a muscle car, while maintaining the creature comforts that make the daily grind so much more comfortable. This 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS may be on a dated chassis, but it still manages to make me smile every time I turn the key.