DETROIT — It is hard to look at the new 2016 Camaro SS, the sixth generation of the 2+2 coupe and not go by the numbers.
Although the design is evolutionary, only two parts were carried over from the old model. The rear bowtie emblem and the SS badge.
It was powered by the 6.2-liter direct injected small block V8 with variable valve timing that debuted in the Corvette Stingray. Chevy said about 20 percent of the engine’s components were specific for the Camaro’s architecture, including new, tubular “tri-Y”-type exhaust manifolds.
In this iteration the engine made 455 horsepower and a matching 455 pound-feet of torque, making it the most-powerful Camaro SS ever. The car was 223 lbs. lighter than the model it replaced. And the weight reduction coupled with increased power improved the power to weight ratio by 14 percent.
On the SS Coupe model, a six-speed manual transmission was standard, that’s what we had. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available. This car had a zero to 60 mph time of 4 seconds; it could do a 12.3 second quarter mile for the automatic, 0.97 g cornering and its Brembo brakes enabled 60 mph to zero stopping in 117 feet.
You need to be on a track for that kind of performance and our test car did have a Magnetic Ride Control active suspension. An all new drive mode selector lets you choose between Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and Track settings.
We kept it on touring, most of the time. We did switch over to sport every now and then and noticed that the suspension stiffened a bit. Chevy said the selector tailors eight vehicle attributes.
But most of the above is sterile. This is a much, much better car than the one it replaced. Yes it was more powerful, faster and it was lighter than the old model. But it was much easier to drive. In other words, the Camaro SS Coupe was civil at low speeds. It was nimble, very maneuverable and ergonomically friendly. All the controls were easy to see and easy to reach. You couldn’t say that about the last generation Camaro.
The new MacPherson strut front suspension and five-link rear suspension provided better grip and a better ride. However, this road sensitive setup got a little lively when the rear end was going over abrupt bumps in the pavement.
When we pushed the start button and the engine came to life, we knew there was plenty of oomph under the hood and so did anybody else within 10 feet of the car. The Camaro SS had resonators that directed induction noise from the engine bay into the cabin. The dual-mode exhausts featured electronically controlled valves that bypassed the mufflers under acceleration. The exhaust could be personalized from stealth mode to track mode.
The seats were comfortable; the sight lines were really great for a car with a severely slanted windshield. Behind the wheel of the old Camaro was almost like driving a cocoon, it felt cramped and you could not see much of anything out the back or out the side and the front view was not too great either. But Chevy engineers and stylists have eradicated all of that to the point that we often forgot how low the Camaro was to the ground. The passenger cabin was that airy.
And using Chevrolet’s parts bin, our Camaro SS Coupe was well appointed. It had a smart key, an 8-inch color touch screen, a flat bottom leather wrapped steering wheel, select Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio and voice controls.
Yes, it did have a Wi-Fi hotspot. Its 20-inch aluminum wheels were ringed with run flat tires and of course there was a navigation system and OnStar. There were power seats but the bean counters struck: the driver’s seat was 8-way power the passenger seat was six-way power. You gotta love the people with the calculators.
It was a great car and it was reasonably priced at $41,880 as tested.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.