Bodacious V-8 Assures 426-Horsepower In 2010 Camaro SS

March 6, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS BY BILL VISNIC

When Chevrolet launched the 2010 Camaro last spring, it was the answer to the prayers of those who hold a special place in their hearts for “ponycars.” That’s an old-school term for a class of sporty coupes largely defined in the 1960s by the Camaro and its archrival, the Ford Mustang.
What might be a little more esoteric to most, however, is the distinction between ponycar and “musclecar.”
The new Camaro, with its standard 304-horsepower V-6 is a ponycar. The Camaro SS, when fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission, comes standard with Chevy’s 6.2-liter V-8 that generates a bodacious 426 horsepower. That’s when ponycar becomes musclecar.
For either camp, what’s under the hood doesn’t affect the 2010 Camaro’s dazzling, show-car styling that borrows broadly from the Camaro of yesteryear and amps it into modernized, hyper-tense shape to make jaws drop. There may be too much testosterone for some, but nobody could ever call the Camaro bland. And despite the overtness of it all, there’s some serious grace — and purpose — in the Camaro’s shape.
Like the ponycars of a previous era, the new Camaro isn’t without its faults, and one of the most egregious is caused by its low and flowing shape: seeing out of this thing must be similar to piloting a mini submarine. And the squashed-down roofline and high bodysides mean it’s dark in there — all the time.
All Camaros also weigh too much. The 3,849 pounds our SS tester lugs around ensures you never forget there’s a little more Clydesdale than “pony” in Chevy’s new-generation ponycar. The SS is more than 300 pounds heavier than a Mustang GT, nearly 600 pounds heavier than Nissan’s lithe 350Z, which is probably the Camaro SS’s closest Japanese competitor.
The 2010 Camaro has a wheelbase that’s a full foot longer than the 370Z and 5 inches longer than the Mustang’s wheelbase. You never totally escape the feeling the Camaro is a big car.
It all amounts to being sealed up inside what might be appropriately termed a 4-wheeled blunderbuss when determined to unleash all 426 horses. Acceleration in at least the first three gears is nothing short of vicious, the rocket-sled sensation augmented by the bawl from the big never-exactly-quiet twin mufflers and stainless-steel exhaust pipes.
Just like the Camaro’s shape, the all-aluminum 6.2-liter V-8 ain’t exactly subtle. Neither is the 6-speed manual transmission.

You’ll move amongst the gears just fine, but no sense trying to finesse its thick lever: it responds more favorably if you shift like you mean to choke it to death.
It all calms down tolerably come time to cruise on the open road, however, and most of the time you’d be surprised at the suppleness of the Camaro SS’s ride, considering a suspension oriented for wearing the rubber off those outlandish 20-inch tires.
The Camaro’s reasonably sublime ride and thrill-ride handling make the steering all the more disappointing, though. Numb, detached and too light, Chevy says the power-assist is variable-ratio, but none of the variance is ever very good. The fact that rear-wheel-drive cars are supposed to delight with heightened levels of steering communication only makes the steering’s muteness all the more frustrating. But hey, musclecars aren’t really supposed to be about turning, anyway.
The 2010 Camaro SS is the moment’s ultimate musclecar and wears the crown well. It’s fast as stink and looks like it, and that’s what musclecars are supposed to be.
Well, there is one other thing: they’re supposed to be comparatively cheap. Buyers less motivated by emotion — or nostalgia — might look at the Camaro SS’s $36,000-plus bottom line and say, “There’re a lot of good cars around for 36 grand.”
Neither ponycars or musclecars are selling common sense, they’re selling performance and flair. There are heart-stopping quantities of both with the 2010 Camaro SS and as such, it’s a bargain. — Bill Visnic, Motor Matters

Next Bonus Wheels: 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 4-passenger RWD compact coupe
BASE PRICE___________________ $33,725 (as tested: $36,190)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve OHV V-8 w/SFI
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 6.2-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 426 at 5900 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 420 at 4600 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE____________________ 112.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 190.4 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,849 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 19 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010

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