Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Leaner, Meaner Sixth-Generation Chevrolet Camaro Roars in Detroit

Only six times in the past 48 years has an American performance icon undergone a massive image and mechanical makeover. It was September 12, 1966 when the press were first introduced to Chevrolet’s production pony car. Developed under the name Panther, the Camaro was born. On a Saturday afternoon at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, the sixth iteration of the Chevrolet Camaro was brought to warm daylight.

Despite being a cloudy day, the 2016 Camaro made a radiant debut. The generational shift for the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro exterior design is arguably not as substantial of a leap we have seen in previous reinventions of the Camaro. From the first-generation coupe and convertible, the Chevrolet Camaro’s appearance had evolved into a European-inspired sports car for the 1970s, a wedge-shaped 1980s darling, an aerodynamic space-age 1990s shape before assuming the modern back-in-time interpretation for the fifth-generation model. The 2016 model is focused more on magnifying the characteristics of fifth-generation Camaro (not necessarily a bad thing). Visually noticeable with the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is more chiselled bodylines that includes a hood wraps tightly engine the compartment. The top grille section appears shorter while the lower part of the front fascia is more heavily defined. The lower grille section appearance of the 2016 Camaro LT resembles the Corvette while the new Camaro SS has more of a 2015 Z/28 design influence. Front headlights reminiscent of the 2015 Camaro but the LED taillights have been restyled.

As promised, the new sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is a leaner machine. Compared to the 2015 model, the latest Camaro’s length is reduced by 2.3 inches, narrower by 0.8 inches and more than an inch lower. The reduced length appears most evident in the rear deck lid section of the sixth-generation car. Through careful engineering of components and the use of aluminum in place of steel, the new Chevrolet Camaro achieves greater rigidity while actually being lighter. Overall vehicle weight savings greater than 200 pounds has advertised for certain models of the 2016 Camaro.

For 2016, the Camaro's powertrain family consists of a three engines. As I envisioned in a previous Camaro article, the engine line-up for the 2016 sports car will expand to include a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Marketing itself as the most efficient engine placed in a Chevrolet Camaro, the 2.0 Turbo four-cylinder will provide fuel economy greater than 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Producing 275 horsepower, this small turbocharged powerplant actually equals the output of the 1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28’s V-8 engine.

Now residing as an intermediate engine choice, the 3.6-liter V-6 engine will feature some considerable modifications for 2016. Horsepower production is increased to 335 horsepower while controlled cylinder-disabling Active Fuel Management technology joins gasoline direct injection and variable valve timing.

Since the Chevrolet Camaro’s reputation is as a performance car, the new eight-cylinder is naturally the epicenter for the next-generation car. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine has been customized for the 2016 Camaro SS. Producing an SAE-certified 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, the Chevrolet Camaro SS new engine features gasoline direct injection as well as Active Fuel Management. All three engines provide drivers the choice of operating a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shift mode. With the Camaro SS, Active Rev Match is included with the manual transmission blipping the throttle during downshifts. Model equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 and 6.2-liter V-8 will offer a new dual-mode exhaust system.

Offering improved materials and ergonomics, the interior of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro continues to be driver-focused and performance-oriented. A flat-bottom steering wheel and more comfortable shifting for the manual-equipped models have been incorporated in the sixth-generation vehicle. Air vents are surrounded by control rings allowing the passengers to adjust temperature and fan speed. Providing 24 different lighting colors, the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro’s LED-based ambient lighting system includes a “car show” mode that randomly cycles through the rainbow. An available dual screen cockpit possesses driver’s information with a center-mounted, Chevrolet MyLink eight-inch touch screen is enclosed in a hexagonal base.

Planning for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro’s introduction, the auto company offered owners of the previous generation vehicles a chance to be present for the momentous display. For the limited spots for just over 1,000 people were claimed in hours with many of them bringing their Camaros to the party. Representing 35 states and Canada, the showing of Camaro loyalists again makes everyone question why Chevrolet chose to cancel the sports car more than a decade ago (Perhaps it isn’t really a question since so many car enthusiasts knew back in 2002 calling it quits on the Camaro was a colossal mistake).

Going on sale later this year as the LT and SS, sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro pricing will be announced soon.

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