All hail the arrival of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. Cue the trumpets for Generation Six. Long live the Bowtie brand’s Pony Car, which for 2016 comes with a new four-cylinder engine — don’t worry, it’s a nifty little turbocharged screamer — plus, for cruising on those warm summer nights, a convertible variant.
Of course, the lineup still is topped by a V8 in the SS model, which, when matched with a six-speed manual transmission, stickers for $37,795. Order a convertible V8 with an eight-speed automatic, and you’re looking at $50,790, and that’s without any options.
Pricing starts at $26,695 for the 1LT coupe, fitted with the 2.0-liter engine and a six-speed manual transmission. Adding an eight-speed automatic transmission to the mix is another $1,495 (the same figure when matching the auto to the V6 engine option).
Under The Hood
Like the other engines in the Camaro range, the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit has a head and block fashioned from aluminum, and it employs variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. Where the V6 and V8 are naturally aspirated, the 2.0 has a turbocharger to force more air into the cylinders for a more explosive mix that delivers 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Despite the number of cylinders, that’s a pretty useful amount of thrust and, for what it’s worth, is comparable with American small-block V8 engines of the late 20th century.
On the other side of that coin is impressive mileage ratings of, with the automatic, 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. The manual transmission returns 21/30/24 mpg. Either way, you’d be forgiven for wondering if you’d mistakenly wandered into the review of a family sedan, not of an unabashed performance car.
The naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 generates 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque and uses gas to the tune of 18/27/21 mpg with the manual transmission. Add the auto and the estimates improve to 19/28/23 mpg. As well as a cylinder deactivation function, this clever engine also has the highest specific output in its class.
Both of these engines are available in 1LT and 2LT trims. The advantage of the V6 (and the V8) is that it will run happily with regular gas; the turbo prefers premium gas.
Move up to SS level and under the hood is the 6.2-liter V8. Generating a strapping 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, this engine achieves 16/25/20 mpg (manual) or 17/28/20 mpg (auto). The manual transmission with this engine has a rev-matching feature on the downshifts, a kind of virtual heel-and-toe action, while the automatic offers steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
It’s fairly safe to assume that anyone who liked the looks of the fifth-generation Camaro will find plenty to approve of here. If examples from each generation were parked next to each other, the differences might seem more obvious, but only the smaller headlights are the real giveaway.
The coupe’s clean lines are preserved in the convertible. With the fabric roof up, there’s a simple and satisfying arc. When the roof is down, it slips out of sight beneath a hard tonneau cover.
In The Cabin
One usual complaint about being in a Camaro — the coupe or the convertible with the roof up — is of compromised visibility created by the car’s styling. Since this model isn’t so different to the previous car, the gripe still applies. Any buyer will have to accept it as part of the deal — and be sure to check the box for any trim levels or option groups that offer a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and parking sensors.
Another complaint might concern the quality of plastics used in the cabin. In some places, they’re okay; just about acceptable in others.
The front seats are generally well shaped and supportive but start feeling a tad under-cushioned after a few hours behind the wheel. Regarding the two rear seats, there wasn’t a six-year-old around to review them; everyone else was too big to fit.
On The Road
Each engine brings its own character to the Camaro driving experience. The V8 is, quite naturally, the star turn. As well as sprinting from standstill to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, there seems to be meaty power everywhere around the rev counter. Going from a 40-mph cruise to a 70-mph overtaking maneuver happens in almost the same time it takes for your right foot to press the throttle down that bit further. And the sound — it’s enough to convert the staunchest eco-warrior to the many joys of gasoline.
The V6 also has a way of tickling the eardrums and providing useful power, too. It’s a gratifying middle ground between the V8 and the four-cylinder.
In the 2.0-liter engine, peak torque arrives at 3000 rpm. So it’s not exactly the relaxed, loping power delivery of a bigger unit, and though it can get a little buzzy, that’s a thrill in itself. The advantage here is the lightness. In combination with the manual gearbox (lighter than the automatic) and a body that weighs less than the previous generation, this version feels super-responsive. It will attack a corner, change direction in the blink of an eye and then power out in a way that owes more to sharp, European-style handling than from a traditional muscle car born in the USA. On top of that, it’s the most fuel-efficient Camaro ever.
By replacing the fixed metal roof with underbody X-bracing, Chevrolet has created a convertible Camaro with 10 percent more rigidity than the old model, yet also with less weight. There’s a tiny bit of body flex over rough surfaces, but not enough for it to be a deal-breaker. Ride quality in both body styles is on the firm side, as it should be for an enthusiast machine. For the first time, the SS offers the option of active adjustable dampers (GM’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control) for more relaxed touring or an even tauter track-friendly setup.
The Final Verdict
Like the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, its traditional rivals in the pony car game, the newly-redesigned Chevrolet Camaro is a capable adversary. It may be a level playing field but we wouldn’t blame you for going to a Chevy dealership with a check in hand after driving each car.
For more information, options, and pricing, please visit our 2016 Chevrolet Camaro page on AutoWeb’s search and configure site.
Image credit ©2016 Chevrolet