Lutz: possible four-cylinder mill for new Camaro

Lutz: possible four-cylinder mill for new Camaro

Speaking at the New York auto show today GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the engine from the high-performance versions of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky could make its way under the hood of the new Camaro. Likely a run at improving the marque's CAFE numbers, the turbocharged four-banger would sit alongside the already planned V6 and V8 models.

In Solstice and Sky trim the 2.0L turbo four-cylinder cranks out 260hp, which is just about exactly the power expected from the 3.6L V6 motor already used in the CTS - although at a more highly tuned 304hp - and pegged for the Camaro. Similar performance from less displacement probably means better fuel consumption, although that's not a certainty with forced induction setups. Lutz says the V6 will get around 17mpg in town and 25 on the highway, according to Automotive News.

Although those numbers are respectable for a performance-segment car, both the Nissan 350Z and the Ford Mustang GT get the same or slightly better efficiency while putting another 40hp on the table. Considering those two cars are probably the nearest competitors for the Camaro in the U.S., that leaves a lot of pressure on the appearance of the new car to support sales. The V8-powered models will obviously take the performance game back over the top of the standard Mustang GT and 350Z, but likely at a hefty price premium.

Lutz would not speak specifically on the topic of pricing, but said that the Camaro was "going to be above Mustang" pricing, although he couched the higher price on the basis of a "sophisticated suspension system, and, frankly, a much nicer interior." While the Mustang has been criticized on both fronts - perhaps unjustly - the Nissan 350Z has a very sophisticated suspension system, and the initially lackluster interior has received upgrades over its life.

Exactly what a four-cylinder Camaro might mean for the Camaro range - and whether anyone will buy it, given a high cost of entry and the availability of much more exciting and true-to-image V6s and V8s, will have to be seen when the Camaro finally makes its sales debut in early 2009.