2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible and 4-cylinder first drive Page 2


Of the three engines we drove, Ford's 3.7-liter V-6 felt the strongest, offering more power across the rev range than Chevy’s last-generation V-6 or the current turbo four. While Ford offers a turbocharged 4-cylinder as well, it sells the V-6 as the base engine and charges more for the four. Chevy, on the other hand, makes the 4-cylinder the base engine and charges more for the six. That leads us to believe that Ford’s 4-cylinder turbo may offer more grunt than Chevy’s forced-induction 4-cylinder.

But the Camaro’s turbocharged 2.0-liter is no slouch. Chevrolet quotes a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.4 seconds and notes that it matches the time of the big-block V-8-powered 1970 Chevelle SS 454 from the muscle car era. Not bad for 122 cubic inches. The old saying goes: “there is no replacement for displacement.” Apparently, there is: time and forced induction.

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We also found that the 2.0 works well with both transmissions. The manual has tidy throws and the clutch engagement feels more natural than it does with the 6.2-liter V-8. The automatic shifts smoothly and is responsive enough that most drivers won’t regret choosing it over the manual.

The one minor drawback of the turbo engine is the sound. It emits a low howl when pushed but is otherwise very docile. Most of us like a little more spice with our pony car gumbo, and the V-6 and V-8 deliver that. Nonetheless, the turbocharged Camaro isn’t a sterilized version of GM’s excellent pony car.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, 2016 Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Drive Program

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Top down to Death Valley

After the track session, we hopped into convertibles and made the 180-mile round-trip to Death Valley and back. The Camaro’s new cloth convertible top immediately revealed itself as an impressive piece of machinery. It is a power unit that folds or unfolds in 18 seconds with no need to pull a handle or turn a latch. It can be operated while driving at speeds up to 30 mph, and it can be dropped using the remote keyfob from outside the car. It also comes with a hard tonneau that powers into place and tidies up the rear deck. This isn’t some cheapo top. It would be right at home on a BMW.

Of course, the convertible top comes at a hefty premium of $7,000. The base price for a Camaro convertible with the 2.0 is $33,695 compared to $26,695 for the coupe. That's quite a bit but many will find it worth the cost for the joy of top-down driving and the fact that it fixes the Camaro's notorious outward visibility issues.

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On the desert highway, the convertible body felt strong, with no detectable cowl shake. All the work Chevy has done to reinforce the body appears to have paid off in a solid structure, though I will reserve final judgment until I can see how the car responds when I get it on some pockmarked Midwestern roads.

Until then, however, the Camaro convertible’s sturdy structure makes it almost as agile as the coupe, with the added bonus that you can actually see out of it. The available turbocharged 4-cylinder also combines power with playfulness and thrifty fuel economy. Even though a 4-cylinder seems anathema for a pony car, and a convertible reduces body rigidity, the 2016 Camaro wears them both well. I see no need for a scarlet letter here.

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