From its heyday in the 1970s and 80s to its abandonment between 2003-2009, the Camaro nameplate has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. But after a slick Transformers movie tie-in followed by its resurrection in 2010, Camaro has emerged as one of the “bookends” for the Chevrolet brand according to Chevrolet designer Michael Pevovar (the other identified as the Silverado).
Chevrolet describes it as “the most sophisticated top in the segment.”
The sixth generation 2016 Camaro coupe was revealed in May this year at Detroit's Belle Isle Raceway. The Convertible, likewise gently massaged, debuted at Chevrolet's early summer “Powered by Innovation” event, also in Detroit at the company's Centre for Creative Studies.
The 2016 Camaro Convertible's electro-hydraulic power roof got a lot of attention, and it really is a nifty piece of work. When up, this soft top emulates the profile of the Camaro Coupe. When down it disappears beneath a hard tonneau flush with the trunk lid. It's completely flat, very precise and form-fitting. Chevrolet describes it as, “the most sophisticated top in the segment.” Notably, the top is capable of opening or closing at speeds up to 50 km/h.
The Camaro Convertible receives the new, lighter and stiffer chassis of the coupe which enables it to shed 60 kg compared with the outgoing model. According to Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, the Camaro's architecture was developed from the beginning to “incorporate a convertible with uncompromised driving dynamics,” (as opposed to being an “afterthought” vehicle that was adapted from an existing vehicle). The result is a car “without cowl-shake or an under-damped chassis typically found in a four seat convertible,” he says.
The chassis itself is derived from the same Alpha platform underpinning the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both of which offer excellent handling. The new Camaro is actually a bit smaller than the previous generation (not a bad thing, in my view), shaving 59 mm in length, 20 mm in width, and 41 mm in wheelbase.
The exterior design is virtually unchanged, save for the dimensional updates, wind-tunnel based optimization and some LED and trim refinements. Inside, a flat-bottom steering wheel is available and vents with bezel controls are featured, along with a new Drive Mode Selector, configurable instrument cluster and customizable ambient lighting. More exterior and interior colours are offered for 2016 (ten and five respectively).
As a brand icon, one gets the sense that Chevrolet doesn't want to alter Camaro's appearance very much at all. That said, Chevrolet doesn't sell a huge number of these cars in Canada, although it does much better with them in the US (just over 86,000 in the US in 2014, but only 2,880 in Canada (Ford's Mustang outsells Camaro two-to-one in Canada, while Mustang sales are slightly less than Camaro in the US).
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is offered in LT and SS models with six new powertrain combinations available. Engines include a 2.0L Turbo inline-four cylinder making 275 hp, an all-new 3.6L V6 making 335 hp, and an LT1 6.2L V8 that produces 455 hp and 455 lb-ft torque (the most powerful Camaro ever, says Chevrolet). Each engine is available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.
Memory Lane: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible
Pricing is not yet determined for either the Camaro Coupe or Convertible, and as you may know, Camaro production in Canada will cease in November, 2015, with future Camaros being built in Lansing, Michigan.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible will be available for sale in the first quarter of 2016.