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Friday
May222015

Hunting Mustangs: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Under the skin of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro rests a Cadillac ATS. A modified ATS, but an ATS nonetheless. The lightweight sport sedan/coupe combination, which also provide the platform used by the current Caddy CTS, has been pulled, prodded and modified to create a formidable challenger for the new Ford Mustang. 

Compared to the 2015 model, the new Camaro has a claimed 28% greater structural rigidity, though it’s not clear if that’s in bending, torsion or both. Like the body-in-white’s 133 lb. drop in weight, that’s not hard to imagine as the ATS platform makes use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum, and savvy engineering to keep weight low and rigidity high. Nevertheless, Chevy claims 70% of the “architectural components” are unique to Camaro, though we believe that number to be based almost strictly on quantity, which would include all of the brackets, etc. necessary to accommodate any changes made to the platform for the Camaro. 

The Camaro starts with the ATS’s double-pivot MacPherson strut front and five-link independent rear suspensions, then adds unique geometry more suited to a performance coupe than a sports luxury car. The use of aluminum front links and drilled steel rear links help reduce suspension weight by 26 lb. compared to the 2015 Camaro, and GM engineers claim the 2016 Camaro SS has quicker lap times than the previous generation Camaro 1LE package. Nor does it hurt that Magnetic Ride Control — that is, a magnetorheological damper at each corner — is available on the Camaro SS for the first time. They adjust to road and driving conditions 1,000 times per second in order to optimize ride comfort and control, and undoubtedly are responsible for the greatest percentage increase in cornering performance. 

Brembo brakes are offered on all models, but standard on the SS. The Camaro LT, for example, is available with 12.6-in. front rotors clamped by four-piston calipers, and 12.4-in. rear discs with single-piston sliding calipers. The SS model, on the other hand, gets 13.6-in. front rotors with four-piston fixed calipers, and 13.3-in. rear rotors clamped by four-piston fixed calipers. Goodyear is the only make of tire offered on the 2016 Camaro, with 18-in. Eagle Sport all-season tires standard on the LT, and 20-in. Eagle F1 Asymmetric all-season run flats available as an option. The SS also gets 20-in. alloys, but fitted with Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 run flats. 

Like the Mustang, the Camaro offers a choice of fours, sixes and V8s, though the inline four is an economical entry-level offering instead of a higher cost performance option. This engine — which, like the V6, is shared with the Cadillac ATS — is rated at 275 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s three more horsepower and 35 more lb.-ft. than the same engine produces in the ATS, and should deliver similar fuel economy. It also, GM claims, is powerful enough to launch the Camaro from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. 

The 3.6-liter V6, on the other hand, pumps out a very respectable 335 hp and 284 lb.-ft. of torque. That's 14 more hp and nine more lb.-ft. than the ATS’s V6, and a lot more power than the Mustang’s 3.5-liter engine. Like the 2.0-liter, it is offered with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. 

Camaro SS buyers get the same 6.2-liter LT1 V8 found in the Corvette Stingray, though about 20% of the engine’s components are specific to the Camaro to help it fit in the engine bay. It puts out 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque, and is mated to a standard six-speed manual gearbox with Active Rev Match. This automatically “blips” the throttle on downshifts, and helps even the most ham-handed driver look like Speed Racer. 

Both the V6 and V8 feature dual-mode exhausts with electronically controlled valves that bypass the mufflers under acceleration, as well as induction tract resonators that bring more of the engine’s sound into the cabin. The 2.0-liter, on the other hand, has active noise cancellation to quell unwanted cabin noise, and models with the optional Bose sound system  have engine sound enhancement that amplifies the sounds of the motor. It can be disabled by the driver as needed or desired.

 

Dimensions (in inches)

2015 Camaro

2016 Camaro

Difference

Length

190.6

188.3

-2.3

Width

75.5

74.7

-0.8

Height

54.2

53.1

-1.1

Wheelbase

112.3

110.7

-1.6

Track F/R (SS model)

63.6/63.9

63/62.9

-0.6/1.0

 

Standard lighting comes via projector beam halogen lamps, while RS and SS models swap these for high-intensity discharge units with LED daytime running lights. These models also feature standard LED rear lights. They fit into a body that — on the SS — feature an “air curtain” on the front fascia to guide air around the front wheels, integrated brake cooling ducts, and a hood with functional air vents.

Like the outside, the interior is familiar but different. Analog instruments are combined with an available eight-inch screen used to access the navigation unit, infotainment, and performance functions. A second eight-inch screen is integrated to the center stack, where it serves as the interface for the MyLink system. To keep distractions to a minimum, the rings around the center air vents control temperature for the driver and front passenger. 

Like the Mustang, the interior LED lighting system offers a multitude of colors (24 in the case of the Camaro), and it’s own level of silliness. Whereas you can use Ford’s MyColor setting to determine the Mustang’s interior color spectrum, the Camaro offers a”car show” mode that randomly cycles through the available colors when the car is parked; as if the Camaro doesn’t say “look at me” without this feature. 

The 2016 Camaro will be built alongside the Cadillac ATS and CTS at GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly plant.

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