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First look: Chevrolet shows pumped Camaro

American belle: General Motors executives were out in force at the weekend to launch the all-new Camaro at Detroit’s Belle Isle – site of the Detroit round of the Indy series.

Lighter, faster Chevrolet Camaro topped by 339kW V8 in flagship SS

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Chevrolet logo17 May 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

CHEVROLET says its lighter, smaller and faster sixth-generation Camaro is so new that only two parts have been carried over from the previous generation: the Chevrolet bow-tie emblem and the SS badge.

Making its debut in front of hundreds of Camaro owners, fans and journalists at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park at the weekend, the quintessential General Motors rear-drive muscle car has been sharpened while maintaining Camaro’s unmistakable design cues.

As Chevrolet design director Tom Peters puts it, the Camaro’s iconic design has been amplified, “like a T-shirt on a muscular physique”.

Britain’s Autocar is reporting that no right-hand-drive version will be forthcoming, but Holden appears to be leaving the door open.

Holden product communications senior manager Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto: “The Chevrolet Camaro is an iconic product and the sixth generation all-new vehicle will offer even higher levels of performance, technology and refinement.

“However, a RHD variant is not in the current plan. If this was to change, Holden would of course take a very close look at this exciting car.”

When it goes on sale in left-hand-drive form in North America later this year, three engines will be on offer: a 205kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, all-new 250kW/385Nm 3.6-litre V6 and range-topping 339kW/617Nm LT1 6.2-litre V8, all available with a choice of six-speed manual gearbox or new eight-speed automatic transmission.

While the Camaro’s four-cylinder engine trails the rival Ford Mustang’s 233kW/432Nm 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder, the big V8 eclipses the Mustang’s 306kW/526Nm 5.0-litre V8.

Borrowed from the new Corvette Stingray, the Camaro’s V8 will be exclusive to the range-topping Camaro SS that Chevrolet claims will be the most powerful production SS of all time. Of course, a ZL1 version can be expected to arrive at some point, eclipsing the SS.

No 0-100km/h acceleration claims were made for the Camaro SS in the launch materials, but Chevrolet did say the entry level four-cylinder version could achieve a sub-6.0-second dash to 100km/h, putting it in similar territory to Ford’s four-cylinder EcoBoost Mustang.

Interestingly, the four-pot engine is not only the first turbocharged engine for Camaro but also boasts more torque than the V6. It is also the most efficient, using about 12.8 litres per 100km.

Sitting on a heavily modified versions of GM’s new aluminium-intensive Alpha platform first employed by Cadillac, the new Camaro is 90kg lighter than before, as well as smaller in most dimensions. The length has been trimmed 43mm (4784mm), the width by 74mm (1897mm) and the height by 28mm (1348mm).

The body is said to be 28 per cent more rigid, while contributing two-thirds of the weight savings.

Chevrolet says the new package handles better, with the SS quicker around circuits than the previous generation’s track-focused 1LE version.

Says Camaro lead development engineer Aaron Link: “Immediately, you will notice how much lighter and more nimble the Camaro feels.

“That feeling increases when you drive the Camaro harder – it brakes more powerfully, dives into corners quicker, and accelerates faster than ever.”

The Camaro employs a multi-link MacPherson strut front suspension with a double-pivot design that is said to give more precise feeling of control.

At the back, a five-link independent suspension is said to deliver outstanding wheel control and reduced “squat” during acceleration. It is 12kg lighter than before, too.

Magnetic ride control becomes standard on SS for the first time, along with Brembo brakes on all variants.

New for the 2016 model is a multiple driving mode system with settings for snow/ice, touring, sport and – on SS – track.

Inside, the new-look interior design incorporates a segment-first ambient lighting system with a choice of 24 effects on the dash, door panels and centre console.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel, higher-quality materials and a “shifter-focused centre console” deliver a more upmarket appearance.

The 2.0-litre turbo version gets active noise cancellation. The optional Bose audio system includes engine sound enhancement.

The V6 and V8 models have resonators to direct induction noise from the engine bay into the cabin. As well, buyers can opt for a dual-mode exhaust with electronically controlled valves that bypass the mufflers under acceleration.

This can be personalised, from a “stealth” mode to the most aggressive “track” mode.

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