The fanfare may not rival the hoopla surrounding Ford's 2015 Mustang makeover and its 50th anniversary, but Chevy's sixth generation Camaro seems to have the credentials to keep it at the head of the pony car pack.

Unveiled at the Detroit Grand Prix circuit on Belle Isle Park, the redesigned Camaro bears a strong resemblance to the fifth generation. This is not too surprising given the success of the current version, which has regularly outsold Mustang over the last five years. 

But aside from refining the current shape, the new car shares very little with the current model. New underpinnings, GM's Alpha platform, adapted from the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Two new engines, plus a more powerful edition of the 6.2-liter LT-1 V-8. A new 8-speed automatic transmission option, all-new sheetmetal with improved aerodynamics, all-new interiors.

Tauter package

Thanks to its Alpha bones, the 2016 Camaro is smaller than generation five, losing almost an inch of width, to 74.7 inches, and shrinking 2.3 inches in overall length to 188.3 inches, on a wheelbase (110.7) reduced by 1.6 inches. And at 53.1 inches tall, the roof is 1.1 inches lower.

Tidier dimensions and extensive use of lightweight materials add up to sharply reduced curb weights, over 200 pounds, depending on trim levels, compared to the current Camaro according to Chevrolet.

There are three engine choices: the 6.2-liter V-8 that propels the high performance SS model, generating 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque; a new 3.6-liter V-6, rated for 335 hp and 275 lb-ft; and, also new to the lineup, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, 275 hp, 295 lb-ft. It's only the second time a 4-cylinder has been offered in the Camaro, much more potent than the tepid Iron Duke four offered in the early 1980s, an era of universal anemia among pony cars.

More power and economy

All three engines use direct fuel injection, and the V-6 and V-8 feature variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. The V-6 and V-8 also boast higher output than the previous versions, and the LT-1 V-8, shared with the latest Corvette, makes this the "most powerful Camaro SS" ever, according to Chevrolet. Aside from an expectation of an EPA highway rating of "over 30 mpg" for the 2.0 turbo, fuel economy numbers are still to come.

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Transmission choices include two Tremec 6-speed manual transmissions, with differing load ratings, one for the turbo four and the V-6, another for the V-8; and two new 8-speed automatics with paddle shifters, ditto.

Chevy notes a 28 percent increase in chassis rigidity for the new Camaro, as well as a new multi-link strut suspension up front, a new 5-link rear suspension system, and a new electric rack-and-pinion power steering setup with a quicker ratio. Suspension options include GM's magnetorheological shock absorbers (Magnetic Ride Control) for the SS version, capable of auto-adjusting to changing road conditions and operator demands up to 1000 times per second.

Performance brakes and tires

All 2016 Camaro offer Brembo brake packages (standard and more robust on the SS), and all will roll on Goodyear tires. LT versions will come with 18-inch alloy wheels, while the SS will wear 20-inchers, with the option of 21-inch forged alloys wearing Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 run-flats. Chevrolet claims that the new SS will turn quicker race track lap times than the 1LE, the current road circuit champ.

The Camaro's cabin features upgraded materials, more soft-touch surfaces, redesigned instrumentation that puts secondary gauges in a location requiring less eye redirection, novel center HVAC vents that also adjust temperature, and a head up display option.

As for the styling, the design team obviously felt they had a winning look and worked to preserve it while simultaneously giving the Camaro a trimmer, more athletic appearance. But the high beltline and narrow windows maintain the subtly sinister presence of the current Camaro. 

"I don't think it looks angry," says Tom Peters, the design chief who was also responsible for the current Corvette."We like to think it looks hungry."

Two trim levels at first

There will be basically two trim levels when the new Camaro rolls into showrooms this fall, LT and SS, and pricing will remain a mystery until that time draws near.

That leaves just two questions. Number one, how about a convertible? GM development chief Mark Reuss says "there will definitely be a convertible," although just when remains to be seen.

And how about that most iconic of Camaros, the Z28?

"I love the Z28," says Reuss. "End of story." Or, more likely, just the beginning.

 

 

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