At a glance, the design of the 2016 Camaro may seem evolutionary, but there are some serious details in it that become more apparent when you see it in the flesh. Chevrolet says it’s more sculpted and we have to agree. From the various planes seen in the hood to even the form of the outside mirrors, there is tremendous attention to detail in it. There’s definitely some C7 Corvette in the details, giving it a familial look, too.
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.
Meanwhile, a Daimler-era Chrysler rounded up all their horsepower-junkie engineers, locked them in a room, and slapped an SRT badge on the door. Like a grenade going off in a small closet, it didn’t take long for these modern-day Ramchargers to scatter buckshot through the performance ranks at GM and Ford.
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 more latitude in finding a good driving position, the seats are better, and the overall feel of the car is world-class. And there’s a host of aftermarket goodies if you’re looking for more. We would most certainly recommend the 3.73s for anyone planning to hit the strip, along with a set of drag radials.
We noticed a slight amount of wheelhop when doing a burnout in the 2015 Mustang. This seems to be common, but it can be reduced with stiffer rear bushing. In the name of proper reporting, we tried doing burnouts both ways and found both methods to be effective.
We spent a little time in preproduction V-6 models and came away impressed. Very impressed, in fact. With more power than the previous V-6 channeled into a lighter, more agile chassis, the effect is enlightening. Power delivery is strong and immediate, with a strong feeling of torque at low rpm. We look forward to driving the SS, but the V-6-powered LT is no slouch.
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.
So how do you make the Shelby Raptor even better, how about slapping on King off-road racing shocks, all-new 35×12.5R18 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires wrapped around a set of custom 18-inch wheels and, oh yeah—stuffing a supercharger under the hood to give it 700hp.
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.
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.
We’re going to argue, however, that the all-new Gen 6 Camaro is more significant. In our admittedly limited experience with preproduction examples and careful evaluation of the elements comprising it, it’s more of a driver’s car. We don’t mean to cast aspersions on the unquestionably popular Gen 5, but it was a car trimmed to fit an existing platform one that wasn’t originally envisioned as a 21st century ponycar.
Chevy was apparently listening to all that feedback at tuner events, because there’s also a new LED ambient lighting system with 24 different colors that can be switched to a car show mode when the car is parked. It creates a theatrical light show that we can only assume will be hacked to strobe in rhythm to bands like, well… we’re too old-school to hazard a guess. Kids today and their music. Let’s just move on to the engines.