First Drive Review: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro LT
By Matt DeLorenzo of Road & Track
The Chevrolet Camaro SS will be the big gun when Chevy's reborn pony car bows early next year, so the division is keeping its powder dry by saving drives of this highly anticipated model for later. In the meantime, it allowed us some seat time in V-6 development models used on a 99-percent validation drive.
While cosmetically these cars are a short of what we will see once they begin to roll out of Chevy's Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, assembly plant, the drivetrain, body and suspension accurately reflect production intent. Our three hours behind the wheel of two V-6s, one equipped with a 6-speed automatic, the other with a 6-speed manual, leads us to believe that GM's Australian Holden unit is on track to build some truly memorable cars.
The first thing you notice is how solid these cars feel. There is virtually no flex in the body, nor rattles or looseness to distract from the driving experience. The only wind noise I could discern came from the large whip antenna (not original equipment) used for car-to-car communication. The V-6 automatic, which has snappy, wheel-mounted sequential-shift paddles, relies on 18-in. wheels shod with BFGoodrich rubber to deliver a sporty feel and a great ride. The 6-speed manual version, with its larger 19-in. wheel and Pirelli tire package, had more grip but sacrificed a bit of ride comfort. That model also exhibited a bit more discernible tire slap over expansion joints.
The Camaro — with its tauter dimensions than the Dodge Challenger and the advantage of an independent rear suspension over the live-axle Mustang — flatters with its linear steering and brake response and nicely weighted clutch takeup in the manual version. This is an easy car to hustle down the road, predictable in its manners and forgiving if you overcook a corner.
With 300 bhp on tap from its direct-injected 3.6-liter dohc V-6, Chevy expects that the car, with additional tweaking, may be capable of breaking the 6-second mark going 0-60 mph by the time it is launched, while delivering highway mileage in the high 20s with a sticker in the mid-$20,000 range. It's a great combination of performance, economy and affordability. All of which means buyers of the base-level Camaro won't have to take a back seat to anyone.