Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Dux Carvajal | posted January 18, 2012 12:03
Style and Substance
In the realm of American cars, there are only a select few that have achieved true cult status. Mustang. Corvette. Firebird. All these names have become icons on the road, garnering the admiration of many fans throughout the generations.
The Chevrolet Camaro is one such car, and now, we take the latest Camaro in RS trim for a drive, and see what the V6 and the car can really do.
The Camaro is one of Chevrolet's proudest brands since its introduction in 1966, alongside long-serving nameplates such as the Corvette, Suburban and Impala. The current Camaro is now in its 5th generation, sporting aggressive look that gained it fame in the Transformers film series as Bumblebee.
The design stays very faithful to the Camaro Concept Car with a wide stance, extra high beltline, deep-set front grille, low roof, steeply raked windshield and retro-futuristic styling. The Camaro also rolls on 20 inch wheels and low profile tires for that high performance, stylish look and stance. As a result of the General Motors design team's efforts, the Camaro was awarded the World Car Design of the Year at the World Car of the Year awards held in April 2010.
The inspiring design continues to the interior of the Camaro. Interiors of muscle cars past were known for their bland designs, as the dashes resemble that of their pick up trucks, but such is not the case with the new Camaro. The cabin is well and truly busy, with unique square gauges, a deep dish steering wheel, Playstation-like controls for the airconditioning system, and even a quad cluster of auxiliary gauges for water temp, volts, oil pressure and temperature. Being a coupe, there is space for 4 full size adults, as the seats, 2 in front and 2 in back, are large and offer plenty of lateral support and comfort.
The Camaro comes equipped with a long list of standard equipment. Apart from the industry standard of power features for the windows, mirrors, steering and locks, the Camaro comes with an AM/FM/CD/MP3 and USB capable audio system, cruise control, a multi info computer and Bluetooth for your mobile phones. For safety, the Camaro comes with Stabilitrak stability control system, ABS, four wheel disc brakes and a full complement of airbags.
Pony cars are really known for their large displacement, burbly V-8 engines, but in the RS version of the Camaro, Chevrolet decided to give it a new heart: a 3.6 liter V-6 engine. The new V-6 engine gives a surprising output of 312 horsepower, a figure is that has significantly increased due to the high tech nature of the Camaro's V-6. The engine utilizes the latest gasoline direct injection technology. With GDI's high pressure injection, the same 3.6L engine that produces 255 horsepower in a Cadillac has been beefed up to make 20% more power in the Camaro.
Thanks to the new, more powerful engine, the Camaro will lunge forward from a standstill and hit 100 km/h in the mid 6-second range. The engine's power and acceleration figures are maximized thanks to a new 6-speed automatic tranny and has shift paddles for manual mode.
Whereas old American cars are known for dull handling, but Chevrolet decided to give the Camaro a better attitude in the corners with wide, 20 inch wheels and tires and stiffer, fully independent suspension. Up in the mountains, the Camaro exudes a sense of confidence; unusual for a car that weighs 3700 pounds.
Turn in is rather sharp; the wide tires really doing their best and more, while the suspension works hard to keep roll in check. It just so happened that we were testing the car with other performance models like the Lancer Ralliart and Genesis Coupe, and surprisingly the car can hold its own very, very well. On the straights the new engine really comes alive, sticking very close to the lower and lighter GenCoupe... though it's a different matter (but not by that much) in the corners. I can't imagine any of the older (yet more powerful) American muscle and pony cars could do that.
The Camaro RS really begs the question: is the V8 really necessary? Well, in my opinion, the standard V8 isn't really needed anymore, but for real performance, the high powered V8 SS is still the one Camaro owners dream of.
For everyday sportscar drivability, night time style and weekend drives however, the Camaro RS fits the bill perfectly... just be prepared to get plenty of looks on the road.