Making all three powertrains sound Camaro-appropriate was an area of focus, Link says. Both the V-6 and V-8 amplify engine noises and pump them into the cabin--and can be fitted with a two-mode exhaust that skips the mufflers under heavy throttle to boost the musclecar sounds depending on the driver's mood.
Of course, it's the four-cylinder that got the most attention. As with the Mustang, the reception of a turbo-four engine depends heavily on how it sounds--if it's muscular enough.
"One of our biggest challenges [was], what’s this thing supposed to be like?" Link says. "A V-8 Camaro, we know what that’s supposed to be, it’s pretty tried and true for us.
"We weren't sure really how the reaction would be," Link admits. "There's some skepticism and some stigma" about four-cylinder muscle cars--which is why the Camaro's four gets noise cancellation across the board, to tune out weaker-sounding frequencies, and also noise amplification with its optional Bose audio system.
The four-cylinder also has a different exhaust setup--it went "from a one-in, two-out exhaust, to a two-in, two-out, so the exhaust pipe coming out of engine splits before exhaust."
In the end, Link's team decided to "embrace the four-cylinder and not trying to make it a six or eight. it would come off as very artificial."
"Our engine actually has some pretty good character of its own," he says. "We’ve erred on the subtle side for sure. The more we drive this package, we know people are really going to like it."
A little easier to live with
More drivers should fit in the resculpted Camaro, too. Cockpit styling and packaging has been the single biggest deficit of the 2010-2015 car, what with its lifeless cabin, a useless back seat, and front buckets that couldn't accommodate taller drivers, even without a helmet.
With its subtle new contours smoothing out the blocky, Transformers-like edges of the gen-five car, the Camaro also should deliver more interior space, at least for front passengers. Trunk space and back-seat room? They still take a back seat, but with some work, Link's crew has found a little more space in the rear.
"When we first started, we realized headroom in rear was pretty bad, so we shrink-wrapped headliner better to the rear and moved some things around to be able to gain a full inch of headroom that we didn’t have."
In front, better clearance should be a boon to anyone strapping in for lap times. The front seats have a lower limit for vertical travel, and even though the roof height is lower, Link promises more room for helmeted drivers.
Wrapped around the driver is what Link says is one of the best things about the new Camaro--the interior. "People are going to be blown away" by its more open, much better finished cockpit.
"It's nothing similar to the old one," he says, outlining the Camaro's new interior. A lot of space has been freed up by reconfiguring the center stack and console; "there's not so much of a wall between passengers," he says, thanks to an electronic parking brake and round vents with integral climate controls. The CD player's been axed, too, to make more room for a big 8.0-inch touchscreen atop the stack--paired with another one offered that slots between the gauges. The screens, coupled to available wireless phone charging and Chevy's MyLink infotainment system, makes this the most connected Camaro ever.
It's not short on glitz, either. The Camaro now has ambient lighting that can be linked to drive modes. There’s even a theatrical “car show” mode that cycles randomly through the entire color spectrum when the Camaro is parked.
Finally, next up--our first drive of a 2016 Chevy Camaro engineering prototype----->