Our Scat Pack was a base model with just the extra eight-speed TorqueFlite, so you can order one with a lot more gear, including a variety of seating, technology, convenience, and entertainment options. (See the sidebar.) You can even step up to the Scat Pack Shaker package, which adds the inspired legacy hood scoop with a functional cold-air intake.
The Camaro SS has a unique front fascia with integrated brake cooling ducts and a unique hood with functional air vents, which improve engine cooling and reduce front lift. It also has a specific rear spoiler. The hood vents don’t simply provide an exit point for hot underhood air. They funnel air drawn through the grille out and over the car, which improves performance because it prevents the air from being forced under the car, where it can cause lift.
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.
At Mopars at the Strip, Hot Rod magazine had a similarly optioned automatic Scat Pack Charger, and ran a 12.87/107. That’s quick for any car, let alone one that tops the scale at over two tons. Our curiosity led us to the Dynojet chassis dyno at Kenne-Bell Performance, where we put our 2015 Scat Pack Challenger on the rollers. The press-fleet example put out 434 hp to the wheels, which was 9 hp more than a bone-stock ’14 SRT 392 Challenger tested earlier on the same dyno by Kenne-Bell.
Our only real complaint is that a car of this caliber and price should come with GPS standard. Dodge tells us the hardware, antenna, and processor is already on board, but they’ll only load the software at the factory if you buy an option package with GPS, or bring it to a dealership and pay the service department to program it for you.
Like the exterior, the 2016 Camaro’s interior is completely new. In many ways, it represents a greater departure in style and functionality, too. The instrument panel, for example, retains the familiar dual-binnacle-style hood over the instruments, but the rest of it has been completely redesigned. Gone, too, is the cute but ergonomically challenged retro gauge panel in the center console.
When it rolls into showrooms at the end of 2015, the new Camaro will be offered only in LT and SS models, with an RS package, too. Chevy won’t comment yet on higher-performance variations such as the 1LE, ZL1 and Z/28. The SS, of course, receives the 6.2L LT1 engine, while the LT comes standard with a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder or an optional, all-new iteration of GM’s 3.6L naturally aspirated V-6.
Our technique in the 2015 GT is the same as in previous Mustangs. We find an upright driving position to get good leverage on the shifter, and keep our hand on the shifter during launch so we’re ready to go.
To help the Shelby GT grip through the curves while laying down all its newfound power, a set of Shelby specific 20-inch Weld Racing forged aluminum wheels wrapped I sticky Michelin rubber are used. A set of 6-piston Wilwood calipers up front and 4-piston Wilwood calipers out back help reel in this pony when jumping on the binders. A brake duct kit ensures the brakes stay cool during spirited driving at the track while adjustable rear control arms and camber/caster plates allow the suspension to be finely tuned for any situation.
We tend to preload the shifter just a bit, then stab the clutch and rip the shifter. We repositioned our hand from a side grip to a top grip to ram the shifter forward for the Two-to-Three exchange. In the new GT you’re shoving it almost directly forward—aim too much to the right and you’ll find Fifth, which happened to us twice. Then, get ready to pull straight back for Fourth. For Fourth, put your elbow away from your body to prevent yanking the shifter into Second gear.
The LT1 engine is available with a standard Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission that borrows the Active Rev Match technology from the Corvette’s seven-speed manual. It “blips” the throttle automatically on downshifts. It’s very effective, but a little disconcerting the first time you use it. The Hydra-Matic 8L90 paddle-shift eight-speed automatic is optional.
First came Hellcat, forever changing the gearhead meaning of the numbers “707.” Hellcat almost overshadowed what was arguably the more significant performance/value breakthrough—the 485hp Scat Pack Challenger and Charger. Nevertheless, it hasn’t escaped our attention, and we hope it won’t escape yours either.
We use the release-pause-release method, and it works really well. Let us explain. Since you don’t have a huge sidewall (like slicks have) to absorb the initial “hit” during launch, you’ll need to create a buffer to absorb the initial movement at the tires. If you don’t have a buffer, you’ll just spin. When it’s time to go, release the clutch quickly, but controlled. Then, just as the car is transferring weight, pause your left leg for a moment.