Sporting an appropriately bowtie’d Chevy belt buckle, General Motors executive vice president of Product Development Mark Reuss took to the stage to introduce the new vehicle. Redesigned from nose to tail, the Camaro only carries over just two parts from the previous generation: the rear bowtie emblem and the SS badge.
“For Camaro enthusiasts, it retains iconic design cues and offers even more performance. For a new generation of buyers, the 2016 Camaro incorporates our most innovative engineering ideas with finely honed performance and leading design,” Reuss said.
He’s not wrong; the car is distinctly Camaro yet sharp and modern looking. The facia might look like it doesn’t depart too much from the one the outgoing model sported, but this one is more chiseled and expressive. In fact, the aesthetics of the entire vehicle were meant to make the Camaro look meaner and leaner.
Its under the skin where the Camaro’s significant changes can be found. Let’s state the obvious: the Camaro’s true strength was always its agility. In the face of Ford and Dodge powerhouses, this American muscle showed them both how to dance.
Though now on GM’s Alpha platform, which is shared by the Cadillac ATS, the Camaro’s underpinnings are about 70 percent unique to the vehicle. Engineering tweaks and the trimming of dead weight gram by gram, the new car is about 200 pounds lighter than the old one, yet 28 percent stiffer.
“The driving experience is significantly different,” said Aaron Link, lead development engineer. “Immediately, you will notice how much lighter and more nimble the Camaro feels. That feeling increases when you drive the Camaro harder – it brakes more powerfully, dives into corners quicker, and accelerates faster than ever.”
Furthering the new sportier feel is an update to the suspension: multi-link MacPherson struts up front, and a new five-link independent suspension in the rear. Magnetic ride control also makes its way to the SS, where it was previously exclusive to the ZL1. The active suspension now reads the road conditions 1,000 per second and makes automatic damper adjustments.
There’s new power options, too, starting with a new base model twin-turbo four cylinder that puts out 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feed of torque. A new 3.6-liter six cylinder slots in the mid-range Camaro, now producing 335 hp and 284 torques. Both can be married to a six-speed manual gearbox or a new eight-speed paddle shift transmission.
The real star of the show is the V8 packed into the Camaro SS range topper. Replacing the old mill is the 6.2-liter V8 that’s housed in the new Corvette Stingray, which now gives the Camaro a 455-hp output and just as much torque. New technologies like variable valve timing and direct injection help keep the powerhouse as fuel efficient as possible.
A peek inside the cabin reveals a newly designed interior that changes just about everything. New seats and a new center console ergonomically designed for better manual shifting tie in with the new flat bottom steering wheel, demonstrating a performance-driving optimization. The big way Chevy accomplished this was swapping the old manual handbrake for an electronic one. This allowed them to move the cup holder and improve the shifting range of motion.
The old instrument cluster is replaced with a new one that blends analog gauges with an 8.0-inch high-def center screen that can be customized to show lots of different information like performance data and navigation. This is complemented by another eight-inch infotainment display on the dashboard.
We’re still waiting for a few specific details, like price and performance numbers of the SS, but we’re sure to find out soon, as the car is slated to hit the roads later this year.