April 22, 2011

Camaro SS

In college, my roommate had a Camaro. How I yearned for that car… I would try to find new excuses for each errand to drive his muscle machine, such was the thrill of feeling your eyeballs shoved out the back of your skull.  The heart-wrecking moment of flooring it is still a vivid impression.
The Camaro first appeared in 1967 as GM’s attempt to cut into the Mustang market and continued in production until 2002.  In ’67 the SS model had a 295 horsepower V8. Today’s re-introduced SS trim package barely contains a 400HP 6.2L V8. 
Transformer's Camaro

The new Camaro made a splash immediately, starring in major motion pictures.  We absolutely loved the new look and couldn’t wait to get our hands on the real thing!
                It’s gorgeous!  20in. wheels, gun-metal gray accents.  If looks could kill, the Camaro would be a terminator!  The old school lines mixed with modern car production make the Camaro stand out in most North American parking lots.
                There are 10 different paint colors and 5 different wheel types available.  It may not have the most options, but it will look tough.

The auxillary instrument cluster with engine temp., oil pressure, etc. are located down behind the gear shift.

When turned over, the V8 literally shakes the interior.  The V8 in the Yukon XL Denali gurgles and purrs, but doesn’t come close to the tremors of the Camaro.  Seismographs nearby have been known to register Camaro ignitions (total hyperbole).  All 400 horses can be heard inside the cabin. 
                At 6’4”, I’m not the tallest guy, but I’m not medium height either.  The headroom is lacking.  Even with the sunroof open, dips in the road caused a reminder to slow down.  Eventually I had a self-induced headache.  The Camaro has an adjustable tilt steering wheel, but it doesn’t telescope.  I would have reclined the seat more to lower my head, but then I would have had to move the seat forward and cramped my legs to still be able to reach the wheel.  In the spirit of proving the Camaro to be a sports car, I leaned towards be uncomfortable and driving fast vs. comfort.
                There is a cluster of auxiliary gauges located between the driver and passengers seats near the console.  Checking these gauges while driving at speed is ill-advised since you wouldn’t see the Prius that you are running up the back of until it’s too late.  The lock/unlock button is also located on the dash under the radio.  It took some getting used to, but isn’t that big of an adjustment. 
                The instruments in general are perplexing.  There are two analog gauges behind the wheel: a speedometer and a tachometer.  Then between the two is your information center, which displays your digital speed again.  The auto industry has been under immense pressure, but the design of the instrument suite feels like the engineer who turned in the most modern design that was the cheapest was selected for production.  The saving grace of the interior is a Heads Up Display (HUD).  It adds a cool factor of 500!  As I accelerated, the HUD seemed to move farther away.  Only drawback is that between the HUD, digital, and analog speedometers, you are viewing 3 different speedos on one dash.  Seems like a waste…

                The gear shift was functional but unexciting on the 6-speed manual.  The clutch was soft and difficult to get the timing and the revs to match.  This is not a car that just anyone can hop in and immediately drive well.  Maybe that’s why of the 17 Camaros in stock, there were only two manuals.  GM has started to try and shake the muscle car moniker and build a true sports car.  They missed.  The SS is still a massive muscle car and quick in a straight line. 
                In our 0-60 tests, our shifts slowed us down.  5 seconds is the number generally regarded as the SS’s 0-60 time (Edmunds.com).  It’s fast, but just doesn’t feel earth shattering.  The SS fails to awaken the racer within.  Basically it goes really fast in a straight line.
                At cruising speed, 6th gear felt superfluous.    The tachometer at 70mph was just above 2,500rpm’s.  Basically 6th gear is just there to improve fuel economy, but isn’t really going to improve the performance of the vehicle.
                On the highway, the blind spots on the rear quarter panels are absolutely huge.  The sales rep’s reaction to this discovery was, “You can out-accelerate anything that might be there, anyway.”  In a car that advertises it’s sportiness and legs, to make any aggressive moves in this car at speed is taking your life in your own hands.  The visibility out the rear glass was minimal as well.  It’s a car where whatever is behind you shouldn’t be a worry, but standard highway driving with multiple lane changes gets dicey quick.
                With an 18.8 gallon fuel tank, the Camaro averages 16 miles in the city and 24 on the highway.

All in all, the Camaro is still extremely quick in a straight line.  Blind spots are more like blind sections of the car.  For being a realistic two-seater (Even though it has 4 seat belts), it was uncomfortable with just me inside.  It doesn’t quite live up to the sports car reputation, though it definitely is a member of muscle car royalty!

From Deviant Art by cuba985

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