To introduce members of the press to the 2016 Camaro, Chevrolet had an interesting idea. Through the "Find New Roads" program, the brand invited journalists to explore America at the wheel of their new sport coupe. Not the whole continent in one shot, of course; they created several itineraries across the United States for groups of two journalists to travel. We were offered numerous choices and were asked to select three of them. From there, we were assigned one.
The Car Guide team was assigned the trip between New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas, which works out to about 1,000 km in two days if you count detours to take side roads. Basically, the itinerary gave us plenty of time to learn more about this new car. There was a draw to distribute the cars, and Marc-André Gauthier and I got lucky: a bright red SS with a 6.2-litre V8 borrowed from the Corvette paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
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Style and rear visibility
The team charged with developing this sport coupe refined the silhouette using more angular elements and very narrow rectangular headlights. Our car had the desired effect, as evidenced by the reception staff at our hotel in Shreveport, in Northern Louisiana. They had nothing but good things to say about its looks.
Although the shape turns heads, the Camaro has a raised tail end that hinders visibility and makes for a narrow trunk opening, although the trunk itself is quite spacious. And the tiny back seats are only useful for young children.
The dashboard is simpler and more ergonomic than before, while the steering wheel is comfortable, the information screen is well situation and the electronic display indicators are easy to read.
Start your engines!
With a 6.2-litre 455-horsepower V8 engine, this car is very athletic. Especially since it’s 100 kg lighter and has 29 more horsepower than the previous version. It's easy to understand why it gets from 0-100 km/h in 4.0 seconds with the automatic transmission and 4.3 seconds with the manual.
There are four driving modes: Touring, Sport, Track — exclusive to SS — and Snow/Ice. The selected mode affects engine performance, while the dampers are of the electromagnetic variety. Four-piston Brembo brakes and 20-inch rims come factory standard on the SS, which is the most dynamic version.
On back roads, the Camaro is neutral in turns, without noticeable body roll or an overly firm suspension. You're going to have to push this coupe very hard to reach its limits. Now with a 28% more rigid platform, the car is as impressive on the highway as it is on winding roads. Sure, the soundproofing isn't perfect, but the front seats are comfortable and the controls are easy to figure out and use.
Wi-Fi, OnStar and Apple CarPlay
This trip was made all the more easy by the electronic communication aides. Using OnStar, connecting to the Wi-Fi takes just a few seconds. The OnStar system guided us to our initial destination, Shreveport. Fun fact: when we deviated from the mapped route, the system turned off, only to start up again when we got back on the right track. OnStar also let us reserve our hotel while en route.
Finally, since Marc-André has an iPhone, he was able to link it to Apple CarPlay, an application that helps you navigate, read messages, connect the telephone, listen to music and much more. We used it as a navigation tool near the end of our trip and it was flawless. Impressive stuff! So much so that I’ve now been converted to Apple. Good news: there are a plethora of GM models that can access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Obviously, you have to subscribe to OnStar.
A sensible itinerary
For our trip from New Orleans to Dallas, Chevrolet handed us the keys to the car and told us that we would meet again at the airport in Texas. This gave us the chance to see the excellent condition of the highway infrastructure, including some very busy expressways. Leaving New Orleans, the highway is supported on piles to pass over the swampland. A few excursions — too short, unfortunately — on back roads, gave us a glimpse of the bayous and took us to the city of Maringouin (that’s French for “mosquito”). We then made our way north to Shreveport and spent the night there. Shreveport is known for its casinos, but we abstained.
The next day, it rained almost the entire time. A bit like in Louisiana, the highway was impeccable while the side roads led us to varied landscapes where rundown mobile homes stand alongside luxurious properties. As for the traffic, even the semi-trailers were going 140 km/h!
Be that as it may, and in all conditions, the Camaro SS exceeded our expectations. By the end of our trip, we had put more than 1,000 km on the odometer and recorded an average fuel average consumption of 12 L/100 km without taking any particular care in our driving style. I'll say it again: impressive stuff!