An amazing machine and thrilling to drive.
In a market flooded with utility vehicles of all sizes trying to stuff three rows into a tiny space, it’s easy to lose sight of the other end of the spectrum. There are plenty of vehicles built more for fun, track use, or lone wolves who enjoy every aspect of driving. Sitting low to the ground and being met with a ferocious roar when you start the engine of the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe, you know it is part of that latter group.
The last time I spent any real seat time in a Camaro was tossing it around the racetrack with the Ron Fellows Driving Experience (reviewed here). That event showed me the Camaro was immensely more capable around the track than it typically gets credit for. In the city, a lot of that translates to everyday driving enjoyment. The engine sound is addictive, and can be cranked up or down by changing the settings for the dual mode performance exhaust (an extra $995).
The interior is simple and clean, with a neat trick where the outer ring of the air vent is also the temperature control dial. It retains a retro vibe, but nowhere near the level that previous generations eschewed. Instead, it is pretty minimalistic, with a big screen in the middle and those two big vents being the dominant features to look at.
The Recaro seats (a $1595 option) make the interior feel tighter to get into and sit in, yet are surprisingly comfortable. The rear seats are tiny, if you are an average height male like myself, nobody can fit behind you if they have legs. See the gallery for a picture of the rear seat legroom behind my normal seating position to understand this point clearly. Assuming your passenger can sit further up, the Camaro is a genuinely comfortable three-seater vehicle.
A few things make the cabin more claustrophobic than it needs to be. The rear pillars are very thick, both a design trait of the Camaro as well as for added body stiffness. Rearward visibility is greatly improved by using the standard rear camera mirror, but equally hindered by the tiny side mirrors. Lane changes are not confidence inspiring thanks to these tiny mirrors. For context, I felt a sense of relief after the week was over and I got back into my 2011 Mustang GT, a vehicle with similarly poor rearward visibility, but side mirrors that are about 50% larger.
Outside, Chevrolet thankfully got rid of that giant black gaping front grille that scorned previous Camaros of this generation. More body paint on the front bumper and sleek headlights give the car a very muscular look. Dressed in gorgeous Rally Green metallic paint ($495), the black racing stripe running from the front to back was only noticeable in direct sunlight, and probably not worth the $585 cost on this colour option.
As expected, the 2020 Camaro SS Coupe is no slouch, with a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds. The car is not a lightweight, tipping the scales at 1,642 kg (3,619 pounds) it has a beastly powertrain to thank for its speediness. The SS model is powered by the same 6.2L V8 engine found in the other performance vehicles and high-horsepower trucks in the General Motors Family.
In the Camaro, this naturally aspirated mill cranks out 455 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 455 lb-ft. of torque at 4,400RPM. While those numbers may sound very similar to ones put out by Camaro’s closest rival, the Mustang GT (reviewed here), the Chevy reaches them at lower RPMs. This means there’s a lot more fun to be had without needing to wind everything up to the max every time, and tons of power on tap at the low end of the spectrum.
Connecting the engine to the road in our test vehicle is the same transmission you can find in that Ford Mustang too, the 10-speed automatic that’s a joint venture between Ford and General Motors. Fantastically tuned and having no issues handling the power, the transmission confidently churns through the gears firing off fantastic exhaust notes every time it does so. If saving the money and shifting on your own with the six-speed manual is not in the cards, getting the automatic is not a consolation prize.
All that power and fun does come at a cost, unfortunately, and right where it hits hardest; the fuel pumps. The Camaro SS requires 91-octane premium fuel to get the best performance, and can hold an impressive 72-liters. The automatic fares better on economy than the manual thanks to better gearing, and checks in with a combined rating of 12.1L/100km, with an impressive 8.9L/100km highway rating. If you want to burn more fuel, have more power, and spend even more money up front, grab the supercharged Camaro ZL1.
Coming in with a base MSRP of $49,448 for this trim level (2SS), our test vehicle was further optioned up with a ton of extra goodies like a Brembo Brake package ($5,570), Magnetic Ride Control ($1,895), a strut tower brace ($315). Some other appearance bits and small upgrades along for the ride resulted in an as-tested price of $64,663 before fees and taxes.
The Camaro came back onto the market in 2010 after an eight year hiatus with its sights set on the Ford Mustang. The two cars seemed to constantly be trying to one-up each other ever since, but in recent years the fight has calmed. It seems the Camaro has matured over the years, fully becoming the car it was meant to be.
While it has its shortcomings that come along with the body style, this 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe is an amazing machine and thrilling to drive nonetheless. The choice between the Camaro and Mustang truly comes down to personal preference at this point, but there is just something so special about that 6.2-liter engine we just cannot get enough of.