Sports cars like the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger appeal to a special breed of drivers who love sports cars for their sporty ride and silhouette, mechanical characteristics and the message they send to other motorists. Essentially, driving a Camaro is akin to shouting “I love sports cars!” from the rooftops.
When Chevrolet created its sixth-generation Camaro, they had sports car lovers in mind. The model’s biggest fans came out in throngs to the Belle Isle track, which is located between Canada and the US on an island in the Detroit River. Since the course had already been set for the next Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, which will take place from May 29th to 31st, Chevrolet decided to unveil the Camaro and promote the race at the same time.
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By invitation only
With help from Camaro clubs from Michigan and 34 other states, Chevrolet sent out invitations to the event. In all, some 250 Camaro owners were invited to take part in the festivities. They then decided to extend the invitation to Camaro owners from Ontario and Quebec. We hoped to meet some of our fellow Canadians while we were there, but they were hard to pick out from the crowd .
The day kicked off with a parade down the Grand Prix course. We then visited the Camaro Museum that had been set up in the paddock to show off the various models built over the last 40 years. Among them was the first Camaro to come off the assembly line, the race car that Roger Penske used early in his career and lots of other variants, from prototypes to historic models. There were even two NASCAR vehicles that Canadian Ron Fellows once raced in.
Since the 2016 model was scheduled to be unveiled at the end of the day, people had plenty of time to take a ride around the track with pro drivers on what they called “hot laps.” The vehicle of choice for this was the Z28.
Several 2015 Chevrolets were also made available to guests. The line-up included a wide range of models and GM reps were on hand to get in and answer questions as you tested the cars.
The big reveal under the big top
The official unveiling was scheduled to happen at 4:15 p.m. under a tent so big it would have made Cirque du Soleil envious. Media reps and Camaro owners gathered under the big top, and we all released a collective sigh of relief when we discovered it was air-conditioned.
Eventually, Mark Reuss, Executive Vice-President of Product Development, ushered in three models: a grey one powered by a four-cylinder engine, a blue one with a V6 and a red Camaro SS featuring a V8.
This means that buyers will have the choice between three engines, including a 2.0L four-cylinder turbo with 275 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. While the Ford Mustang’s four-cylinder is the mid-range option, Chevrolet decided to offer its four-cylinder as the baseline engine. The mid-range mill is a 3.6L V6 with 335 horsepower and 284 lb.-ft. of torque. The sportier and more vigorous SS model is propelled by a thundering 6.1L V8 with 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. All three engines can be paired with a six-speed Tremec manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic.
Wind tunnel training
Chevrolet says they spent more than 350 hours in the wind tunnel to fine-tune this vehicle’s aerodynamics. Style-wise, its silhouette looks mostly the same, but the rear section is narrower for a much more streamlined effect. By using aluminum for the hood and various suspension parts, as well as higher quality steel for a lighter and more rigid body, they managed to reduce the car’s weight by more than 100 kg. It’s also interesting to note that the 2016 Camaro comes with 20-inch wheels and tires.
The passenger compartment has been almost entirely revamped. The steering wheel is less bulky and more elegant, enhancing the sport coupe’s sporty and agile personality. The digital instrumentation is comprehensive and easy to read, while the retro dials seen on the previous model’s console have been removed. The air vents come with unique control rings, eliminating the need for a cumbersome button.
Chevy put together a great show for Camaro fans to mark the release of the new 2016 model. It should come as no surprise if this coupe continues to dominate the segment as it has done for the past five years.