So how does the 2015 Shelby GT handle? Lucky for us, we got the opportunity to take the car for a spin and we got to experience just what this 650hp beast is all about. While it feels incredibly fast, you aren’t constantly worried about giving it too much throttle and spinning out. The traction control seems to keep it tracking straight when you crack open the throttle and the sway bars help it hug the curves, even under power.
Of course, the Camaro SS is powered by the 6.2L LT1 V-8 engine introduced on the Corvette Stingray. About 20 percent of the components are specific for the Camaro’s architecture, including new, tubular “tri-Y”-type exhaust manifolds. And yes, it also employs variable valve timing, direct injection, and Active Fuel Management (on automatic-equipped models). Output is 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, making it the most-powerful standard V-8 ever in a Camaro.
Luckily for us, the folks at Shelby American just happened to stop by our L.A. offices to give us an exclusive first look at the all-new Shelby GT. Naturally we brought along our camera and snapped away at 2015 Shelby GT Mustang from just about every angle. It’s definitely a head turner that also packs plenty of power and performance to go along with it.
More on all of them below, but it’s worth noting for anyone having philosophical reservations about a four-cylinder Camaro that at 275 horsepower, it’s more powerful than any small-block V-8 offered between 1972 and 1992 and at 335 horses, the new V-6 flat-out trumps every small-block from 1967 to 2002. Progress can be a wonderful thing.
The all-new 3.6L V-6 is optional in the LT and is rated at 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque. It features direct injection, variable valve timing and, for the first time, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), which disables two cylinders. The 2.0L turbo and 3.6L engines are offered with a standard six-speed manual transmission or GM’s all-new 8L45 paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission, which is based on the eight-speed design introduced in the Corvette and fullsize trucks.
The 2015 is comfortable and nimble on the street. It has good power and a great sound too. We were anxious to get on track, do a real burnout, and launch on a prepped surface. What we found is that the 2015 Mustang is tricky to launch compared to the out-going S197 Mustang. Why? In layman’s terms, the live axle in the S197, which is considered somewhat crude, provides great feedback for drag racing. The three-link suspension does a fantastic job of planting the tires and transferring the torque loads to the body to create pitch rotation (nose lift) to transfer weight from front to back. The heavy axle assembly also gives lots of feedback to the driver and really communicates what the tires are doing.
There’s also a new center console that shows Chevrolet was listening to its more enthusiastic Gen 5 owners. It is designed specifically for easier shifting with a manual transmission, thanks to a repositioned armrest and the elimination of the mechanical, pull-up parking brake. In its place is a simple switch for an electric park brake.
The driving experience is not altogether different than Hellcat. In fact, the first third of throttle travel feels more alert and aggressive than the more powerful SRT. Moreover, full-throttle shifts sound like artillery going off with the Scat Pack’s Hellcat-inspired active exhaust system. The power comes on quickly, and when gears are shifted manually through the steering wheel paddle shifters, you better be on your game—the rev-limiter comes up quick in the first few gears. Pulling away from the intersection, you’ve got to be ginger with the gas pedal, as the tires will erupt with squealing and chirping during what we’d call normal driving.
You can feel slight chirping or slipping of the tires and apply power and clutch accordingly to get maximum traction and acceleration. The IRS provides excellent grip on launch, but it also reduces some of that feel because the tires are more isolated from the chassis. Because of this, it’s harder to feel exactly what the car is doing, which is important when you’re on the ragged edge of slip or grip. This forced us to drive more conservatively to find consistency. Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem with drag radials or slicks.
Chevrolet is also making Magnetic Ride Control available on the Camaro SS for the first time, and all models offer Brembo brakes (they’re standard on SS). For the Camaro LT, the available brakes include 12.6-inch front rotors with four-piston calipers and 12.4-inch rear rotors with single-piston sliding calipers. The Camaro SS features 13.6-inch front rotors with four-piston fixed calipers and 13.3-inch rear rotors with four-piston fixed calipers.
The aforementioned 2.0L turbo is standard and rated at 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. When the thing is on boost, it offers a wide torque band with 90 percent of peak torque available from 2,100 rpm to 3,000 rpm and maximum torque from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm. Chevy says that’s strong enough for 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 6 seconds, while enabling 30 mpg. What’s not to like, right?
Next-generation Camaros don’t come along very often the 2016 model is only the sixth in the nearly 50 years since the car went into production so when one does appear, it’s an understandably big deal.
Also, keep the rpm steady, as this will keep the Traction-Lok rear engaged properly. Floating the throttle can cause the dreaded one-wheel peel. Once you have the tires clean and warm (you can see if they are smoking by aiming your side mirrors at the rear tires), drive out of the burnout under power. This helps get rid of any residual water, and it’s fun.
As with many cars these days, the gauge panel is a mix of analog instruments and digital readouts. In the Camaro, there’s a big, 8-inch high-def screen in some models and it’s matched by another 8-inch screen for the MyLink “infotainment” system. Like many other Chevys for 2016, it is compatible with Apple CarPlay, which means you can plug your phone in and “project” many of its controls and apps to the MyLink screen. Again, progress can be a wonderful thing.