It’s been a long time coming, but finally I’ve been able to get some seat time in the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
With all that’s been going on with the auto industry in general, the launch of this car seemed to somehow get lost in the shuffle. To be honest, I actually started seeing them popping up on the roads around where I live before I got official news that GM had started shipping them from the factory in Oshawa, Ontario.
At any rate I was pleased when the PR folks emailed to advise they were having a ride and drive event to familiarize the media with their long anticipated entrant to the “Pony Car Wars”.
I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the vehicle I had scored to drive was a bright yellow coupe. All it needed was the black racing stripe down the middle and I would be set to do battle with the evil Transformers. There in lies the truth, the fact that this vehicle has pretty much been in eye sight for over a year without being available for sale, had built up a pretty strong demand for it. However in the meantime, various outside forces, such as high fuel prices last summer, the collapse of the credit markets and the floundering of the auto industry have added pressure to the market for a powerful 2 door sports coupe.
Visually the vehicle was everything GM promised it would be, it is bold, distinctive and a real head turner!
A quick walk around the vehicle confirmed all the important styling cues that GM’s team had promised along the way, the large bulging hood cowling, the flared wheel wells and the stamped shark gills on the rear quarter panel.
Inside the vehicle, a quick glance reveals a handsome and restrained interior. Production realities like integrating switches for the standard Stabiltrak traction control, HVAC and a full complement of gauges have replaced some of the fanciful effects found on the concept car. That being said, there are a multitude of geometric shapes at play on the dashboard, most noticeable are the round Speedo and Tach gauges behind the steering wheel, they somehow morphed outward to Pentagons which contrasts with the console mounted instrument cluster of gauges. Overall though, the interior was a pleasant place to spend the 6 hours we ended up driving around Southern Ontario.
The black leather bucket seats were built with a pleasant bias towards everyday comfort. There was no difficulty getting into or out of the front seats and that proved supportive throughout a wide range of driving situations, minus of course and serious slalom testing, which we were unable to attempt. The back seat was another story, with the driver’s seat set for my 6 foot tall frame, the driver’s seat back ends up about an inch from the leading edge of the rear seat bench. I suppose if push came to shove, we could have crammed 4 adults in there but not with any sense of comfort.
The vehicles we were able to drive were V6 equipped LT models with the RS trim packaging. The 3.6L VVT engine produces 304HP and was mated to a 6 speed automatic gearbox with steering mounted tapshift switches on the back of the steering spokes. Using the tapshift feature requires shifting into manual mode on the console mounted shifter. We found the fully automatic mode provided a comfortable and responsive ride.
Out on the road, the Camaro really did prove its mettle. Since it shares its underpinnings with the Holden Commodore and the outgoing Pontiac G8, one should not be surprised to find a sophisticated chassis capable of returning a firm yet comfortable ride.
The real surprise for me was the fact that after all the driving we did, some 380 kms; the fuel gauge did not fall below a half a tank. We did not fill the fuel tanks upon return so we can report an exact consumption rate but the fuel economy appears to match GM’s promise of fuel efficiency. Figures made more impressive by the ability of the V6 engine to provide a 0-100hm/hr time of just over 6 seconds.
It had been sometime since I had driven a 2 door coupe and I was somewhat surprised at how large the doors were once opened fully, however the wide angle of travel allows passengers easy entrance and egress.
Overall, GM may have a winner here. Anyone looking for a distinctive, fun to drive yet fuel efficient vehicle may find the Camaro LS and LT appealing. As attractive as this vehicle was, I really cannot wait till they make available a 426HP V8 equipped SS model for us to do a full test on. Let’s hope it’s not much longer.
The entry level LS model can be had for $26,995, the LT for $27,995 and the SS starts at $36,995.