Chevrolet’s sixth-generation Camaro might just have hit dealer lots, but it’s already proving to be a resounding success. Besides cleaning up at many a comparison test, it has landed on Car and Driver’s 10 Best list, and was crowned Motor Trend’s 2016 Car of the Year. But there’s more in store for 2017.
For starters, the Camaro celebrates its 50th birthday this year. GM has rolled out a commemorative 50th anniversary package, available summer 2016, for buyers that sees the shapely sheetmetal coated in Nightfall Grey with special orange exterior striping, unique 20-inch alloy wheels, and a black and grey interior with orange stitching and 50th anniversary detailing. Six-cylinder models get orange-painted front calipers, while V8s receive orange calipers at all four corners.
While the special birthday gift is nice, bowtie enthusiasts are sure to pay attention to the two new high-performance trims.
Capitalizing on the Camaro’s newfound agility and 200-lb lighter curb weight is the new 1LE Performance Package. This time around, it’s being offered in V6 and V8 forms. LT 1LEs get Camaro SS suspension with unique tuning, wider 20-inch wheels wrapped in stickier Goodyear rubber, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, plus four-piston front Brembo brakes as standard. V8s get magnetic ride control, an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, 305-width rear tires, upgraded cooling, a dual-mode exhaust and if that weren’t enough, bigger six-piston Brembo front calipers and cloth-clad Recaro bucket seats. Both LT and SS 1LEs can be distinguished from their counterparts by their matte-finish hoods and side mirrors, front splitter, and three-piece rear spoiler.
Also making its return for 2017 is the king of Camaros, the ZL1. Borrowing the supercharged LT4 V8 engine from the Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V, it packs an estimated 640 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque, surpassing supercars like the Nissan GT-R (570 hp), Porsche 911 Turbo S (590 hp), and, its nemesis, Ford’s Mustang GT350 (524 hp). Only the 707-hp Dodge Hellcats and 645-hp Viper offer more grunt. The Camaro ZL1 also receives the GM’s first application of its new 10-speed automatic, though a six-speed manual is standard. Beyond the jaw-dropping thrust, the ZL1 also packs standard magnetic damping, an electronic limited-slip differential, and a Brembo braking system with six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers. The ultimate Camaro will be available in Coupe and Convertible body styles.
Even without these new hot performance models, there’s still much to appreciate about the standard Camaro. Downsized and riding on the same sophisticated platform as the critically acclaimed Cadillac ATS, the Camaro has the cornering ability and performance that will give genuine sports cars a run for their money.
Like the Ford Mustang, the Camaro is offered with a choice of engines in four, six, and eight-cylinder configuration. Unlike the Mustang, the four-pot is standard – it develops 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A 335-hp, 284 lb-ft of torque 3.6-litre direct-injected V6 is an option. The barrel-chested SS gets a 6.2-litre pushrod V8 with 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. All use a six-speed manual as standard; an eight-speed automatic is an option.
Equipment levels are generous on the new Camaro, and include push-button start, an eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 7.0-inch version of Chevy’s MyLink touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. A rear view camera is standard on all Camaros, which is handy given the car’s otherwise terrible outward visibility. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and cross-traffic alert can all be fitted.