In my post-high school days, I couldn’t afford anything but the lowest of herbivores in the automotive food-chain. It proudly showcased the performance-enhancing speed-holes to which most 80s cars succumbed.
What remained was mostly blue.
At the time, many cars used different keys for the ignition and doors. You see, mine never arrived with the door key. To prevent theft (Ha! Who would steal this?), I had much of the interior strewn with dry chip bags, styrofoam cups, magazines and detritus. The little Isuzu iMark Turbo – complete with boost leak (the acceleration was glacial) – was the best and only answer I had to not taking public transit. It featured a cassette containing the contents of Thriller, that for some reason would not eject. Didn’t matter, great album.
Armed with my crap-tacular car, I would meet with friends, many arriving in their new, parent-borrowed Camaros. I loved the part about the car being new – even if they were assembled like it was an afterthought – leaking t-tops seemed to be standard. Yes, they were fast, but at the time they really didn’t seem much better than my $300 disaster on wheels.
Many things can change in twenty or more years, give or take. Isuzu barely exists as a company in North America – their vehicular swan song being a duet with the old Chevy Colorado. My perception of the Camaro has also changed a great deal.
Today, I find myself with a 2016 Camaro SS. It’s almost impossible to believe it was created by the same company that assembled cars with depraved indifference from the Duran Duran era to the origin of Milli Vanilli.
I admit I went out of my way to look for misaligned panels, unfastened fasteners, bad stitches, and missing parts. Nothing. The interior is fantastic, though a few small details do bother me, more on that later.
The temperature dials are stylized and massive. They even have an attractive honey-comb pattern within the vent when open. The digital dash cluster is full of relevant information, and the HUD feels like a precursor to the Minority Report future of automotive display technology, notably when navigation info is displayed. It’s brilliant. If there’s an automotive equivalent to an Emmy, this should get it. Letting OnStar figure out your navigation would be the runner-up.
Unlike some of my peers here at Vvuzz, I’m not a hero-wheelman. I didn’t attempt any movie-grade power slides or tire-wasting burnouts (much to the disappointment of a gaggle of old men – the kind of fans you’ll attract if you buy one of these and you now are forewarned). What I did was experience an incredibly neutral car, with fantastic sightlines when you’re on the move. The fenders are a visual guide to where you want to go in a turn. At no time was I worried I’d miss a turn or clip a curb.
The seating position is outstanding, very low in the car (In fact, it’s so good, that when I went back to my personal car – a VW Golf R – I felt like I was driving a minivan. Sad face goes here). All the people complaining about not being able to see out of this? I believe they’re simply holding onto their notions of the previous model.
Grip is everywhere, I never feared I was going to go full-Mustang-meme into a crowd of people on the sidewalk. No one ran in terror from the car, but quite a few people were startled by the raucous soundtrack from the sports-exhaust. It’s gotta be up there in the decibels and I couldn’t get enough of it. Make no mistake, this car makes all the right burbly noises, right up to the metallic shrieks. Goosebumps.
Which details bothered me? The speedometer has a bizarre face including 30/60/90/120 and on; 30km/h jumps. With so many roads being rated at 80 or 100 km/h, it feels an odd thing to do. The central screen seems to be at a bad angle to the driver, though drivers shouldn’t be looking at it that often anyway. The buttons for the seat heaters and coolers are a glossy, glassy black – they look expensive; I can’t think of a good reason for the myriad of identically-shaped buttons in between to be a cheap looking hard finish. I realize this is a minor thing, but a touch here or there can make a massive difference in perceived quality.
With the very minor things out of the way, there is only one truly disappointing design faux pas. The trunk opening. It’s absurdly small. I’m not nitpicking here because this could be a deal breaker for a potential buyer. I can’t help but think there has to be a way to make the opening larger without ruining the crashworthiness or the lines of the car. If the trunk has to look like a giant surfboard à la the original M3, so what? Perhaps there are already plans for a mid-platform change. If not, there should be.
Minus that, I imagine I could live with the delightful steering, progressive Brembo brakes, musical engine note, and brilliant chassis-magic – day in, day out.
In the automotive food chain this car is most certainly a carnivore.
I’ll take mine in blue, sans speed holes.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS
Base Price: $47,150
As Tested: $53,725 including destination charge
Notable Options: Magnetic Ride Control, $1,895; Power Sunroof, $1,195; Dual Mode Performance Exhaust, $940; MyLink™ Audio With 8″ Colour Touch Navigation, $795
Drivetrain: 6.2-litre V8, 455 hp, 455 lb-ft, six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip-differential, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 16.4L/100 in mixed driving
VVUZZ Recommended: A non-stop smile and noise generator, but only if you can pack light, or pack small.
Images courtesy of the author and General Motors.