– Cool retro-modern styling
– Good ride and handling
– Competitive V6 engine
– Hard plastic interior
– Shallow luggage boot
– Outward visibility
No, it does not transform into a robot. We tried looking for a button that would make it transform into a robot, but we didn’t find any. Maybe that option is not offered in cars that aren’t yellow. We are, of course, talking about the new-for-2010 Chevrolet Camaro. And ours was a silver V6.
After more than three years in the public eye, first as a concept, then as a movie star, and finally as a production car, there isn’t much left to say about the exterior styling of the Camaro. It is as stunning as ever, even if appearing a bit loose around the panel gaps. Our tester was a base V6 model, and buyers at the lower rung will be happy to note that it looks almost exactly the same as the top-end SS, save for smaller rims and a missing fake vent up front.
Make no mistake, the chop-top Camaro is a big car in person, but that does not necessarily translate to a massive cabin. There is enough space for a couple of six-footers if the front seats are moved all the way down, but the roof is still a bit too close to the head for comfort. And let’s not even bother with the rear legroom. There isn’t any.
The sporty front seats are well-bolstered, trimmed with cloth in the base model, and power-adjustable for the driver. The passenger seat offers quick manual access to the rear, but the tight opening leads to a tighter rear seat. The cargo trunk has a similarly small opening, offering a very long but ultimately shallow luggage area. Of course, there is no shortage of cup-holders, with two exposed ones up front, just ahead of the central cubby-cum-armrest.
Despite its near-premium positioning, all Camaro versions come with a hard-plastic interior similar to that of sub-compact cars nearly half the price. But the stylised dashboard is pretty interesting, if ergonomically-challenged, with some big knobs and some tiny buttons. Our base model was missing the four nearly-useless gauges in front of the shifter that come in higher models, so that empty space was great for stashing a mobile phone or two.
Tech features are remarkably few, limited to power windows, electric mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, front and side-curtain airbags, a seemingly-decent manual a/c and an above-average CD/MP3 stereo with USB port. They can be optioned up with further equipment such as a CD changer, more speakers, sunroof, HID headlights, glow-in-the-dark interior panels, a body kit and not much else. There are no navigation screens, push-start buttons or even parking sensors here. It could especially do with that last item, considering the awful all-round visibility.
More work went into the engine though. For the first time ever, owning a V6 Camaro needn’t be a mark of shame. The 3.6-litre V6 makes 304 hp at 6400 rpm as well as 370 Nm at a high 5200 rpm. Mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic, our tester does not have the low-end kick expected of a muscle car, but it felt as peppy as many other entry-level V6 coupes we’ve driven over the years, only with the added fun factor of rear-wheel-drive. Ignoring the vestigial paddle-shifters and turning off the stability control, our 0-100 kph run yielded a respectable 6.9 seconds with some minor wheelspin. Even fuel economy is on par with the Japanese competition, at 13.1 litres per 100 km during our February drive.
Even the handling is good enough to be entertaining. There is reasonable rubber in the form of 245/50 tyres wrapping the 19-inch alloys, offering good grip up to a point. Safe understeer sets in at the limit, aided by the not-too-intrusive stability control, while body roll is noticeable but not bothersome. While the V6 doesn’t get the firmer suspension or bigger brakes of the SS, the regular kit is good enough to hold its own. It turns well enough and stops straight. But with limited steering feedback and delayed manual-shift responses, the Camaro is involving to drive, but not as intensely involving as, say, a BMW M Roadster.
What we found more impressive was the ride comfort. For an aspiring sports car, the Camaro is fairly quiet and decently smooth on the highway, blocking most wind noise under 120 kph, and soaking up most bumps on the road without jitteriness or floatiness. Some credit goes to the four-wheel-independent suspension. While the crude Mustang is a headache on long drives, the Camaro is relatively blissful.
The Chevy Camaro is an immensely desirable car, more so than anything in its price range. Even with a V6, cloth seats, hard plastics and an automatic, we still wanted to spend more time with the damn thing. Even if it does not turn into a robot.
Current Model Introduced in:
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
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