In a country that craves for bigger-the-better and famous for showing macho dudes flexing in a square circle. The Camaro SS just makes sense.
“On its way to the ring, weighing over 3,900 lbs, rated with over 410 foot pound of torque, the self proclaimed ‘American. Performance. Redefined.’ It is the new Chevrolet Camaro SS”
The SS slowly unveils itself from behind the curtain to the stage in a pro-wrestling show. Its confidence aspired appeal is a statement that this is no foreign place as its ancestors have been in the business for generations. It blinks its halo ring headlights signaling the new era of this family legacy has arrived. As it comes down the aisle, getting closer to the crowd, its genetic traits and attractive aggressiveness with its still subdue burbling rumble summon up the old fans and allure the youngsters all together.
Entering the ring fluently, ripping open that throttle, and letting the exhaust roar that familiar American iron big block V8. The subtle roll of the chassis as the engine flexing for some action rocks the compassion of the fans in the arena to secure its main-eventer stature. It doesn’t need any aerobatic ring entrance like a low-carder to draw any commotion. This all new Camaro SS lives and bleeds American pony car gimmick without further ado.
This new Camaro SS can be best described as the fifth generation all-American pro-wrestler. It looks all business, can it handle the real Olympic kind of wrestling? We will find out from the public roads (pro-wrestling), and in a closed circuit (The Olympic).
Background – It all begin in ‘69!
This pony car gimmick gene pool began on 1967 when the 1st generation Camaro was introduced to the U.S. market to compete with the Ford Mustang. That was the beginning of the pony car era. The 1st gen Camaro was constructed on a rear-wheel drive unibody platform [chassis code: F-body] containing an A-arm front suspension mounted on a subframe and leaf spring on solid axle in the rear.
Engines were ranged from I-6 engine with 155 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, to V8s ranging from 4.9L to 6.5L pumping out 280 hp to 375 hp. Available transmissions were 4-speed manual, 2- & 3-speed automatic. The higher performance model like the SS396 had curb weight of 3,091 pounds and was capable of running 0-60 in 6.6s. The most representative model, for entire history of Camaro, was the 1969 ZL1, powered by an all-aluminum 7.0L (427 cu-in) big-block V8 capable of 430 hp @ 5,200 rpm and 450 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm. Production of the 1st gen. also ended shortly after the release of the legendary ZL1.
Unlike the short life expectancy of the 1st gen., the 2nd gen. production span from early 1970 to 1981. The F-body platform was taken from the 1st gen with minor alterations adding suspension refinement for better handling and comfort. The ‘70s also was the era of the tightened emission, fuel crisis, changes in leaded-to-unleaded gasoline, and gross to net SAE horsepower rating change, the 2nd gen was in a tough time. These crises were clearly reflected in the 5.7L V8 engine’s output reduction from 360hp & 380 lb-ft to 145 hp & 155 lb-ft. It was the worst of time in the Camaro history. All the efforts were spent on meeting regulations. The available transmissions being only 3-spd AT and 4-spd MT didn’t really help either.
In 1982 to 1992 came the 3rd gen., it retained the same F-body platform with boxy styling that symbolized the ‘80s. Powertrain was diversified from 2.5L “Iron Duke” I-4 rated at 90 hp to 245hp 5.7L V8 attached to either a 3 or 4-speed AT. A 4 and 5-speed MT were also offered. The most representative model was the 1988 IROC-Z with 230 hp & 330 lb-ft 5.7L V8 with 0-60 time in 6.6s and the quarter mile in 15.2s. Performances were finally backed to where the 1st gen. once was.
The 4th gen. 1993 to 2002 still on the same F-body was now produced in Sainte-Therese, Quebec, Canada for the first time outside the States. Engine ranging from 3.4L V6 160 hp to 5.7L V8 325 hp. Transmissions were modernized to 4-spd AT and 5 & 6-spd MT. The most representative model was the 2001 Z28 equipped with a 310 hp & 340 lb-ft 5.7L V8 and capable of achieving 0-60 in 5.5s, and quarter mile in 13.9s.
This all new “American. Performance. Redefined” 5th gen. Camaro was heavily inspired by the 1st gen, debuted as a concept at the 2006 North America International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. In early 2009, after rounds-and-rounds of corporate red-tape at GM, the new Camaro finally rolled off the Oshawa Car Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, located just an hour away from Toronto, alongside with GM’s Impala, Equinox and Regal. It went on sale as the 2010 model year.
The significant changes between the 2010 & 2011MY are the standard Head Up Display (HUD) in the SS model and the base model 3.6L V6 has more power on paper due to the recertified testing. The 2011MY offers LS, LT, & SS models. The LS & LT models come with a 3.6L V6 engine that pumps out 312 hp & 278 lb-ft on regular gas. The SS models are equipped with two 6.2L V8 engines mated to either an Aisin supplied 6-spd MT or GM’s own Hydra-Matic 6-spd AT. The RS appearance package is available to LT & SS which adds HID headlights with LED ring-shape halo, painted aluminum wheels and body-colored antenna & body colored roof ditch molding.
The black beauty we got here is the 2011 Camaro SS 6-spd AT model with $33,450 MSRP including the 2SS optional package.
Impression – Once you go black, there’s no going back!
Pro-Wrestlers are mostly junkies who seek relief in pain killers, recreational drugs, or steroid to keep them going in the show business. I am also a junkie too. The phrase, no replacement for displacement, is so true. Once you try it, there’s no going back.
It all began after I turned the ignition key to the start position. As the starter cranked the eight big bore pistons and felt the twist of the chassis when the engine came alive; followed by a quick primitive roar that you could sense the potent power hidden within. Its distinctively deep, pulsating burbling rumble when your jab the throttle in neutral and the pops from the backfires when you release the throttle. You could sit there and do this all day. If a picture worth a thousand words then the sound of the SS can only be described by listening to it live. It just sounds so awesome, so fantastic. I’m a V8 junkie.
Engine – Who needs a turbo?
My addiction is the V8 powerplant under the colossal hood that [engine code: L99] consists of 6,200 cc displacement, 16-valve pushrods in aluminum cylinder heads and block, producing 400 hp @ 5,900 rpm and 410 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm on premium fuel. It has 103mm x 92mm bore and stroke oversqure arrangement. The crankcase has 8.9 quarts of motor oil capacity. To put it in perspective, this engine equivalent to having more than three 2-litre engines under the hood.
The L99 is derived from the LS3 (also equipped in the base model Corvette, MT equipped SS and 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP) engine. The notable differences are the use of Active Fuel Management [AFM] and lower compression ratio and engine redline; 10.4:1 vs. 10.7:1 and 6,000 rpm vs. 6,600 rpm, respectively. The LS3 produces 426 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm. At the time of writing, the L99 is only used in the Camaro SS AT model. No other model in GM’s lineup is using this. Consider this as its rarity.
What is AFM?
GM’s patented Active Fuel Management [AFM] is a form of cylinder de-activation method to disable up to half of the cylinders in its AFM equipped V6 and V8 engines under light-load condition. During the cylinder de-activation condition the engine is operating at reduced displacement where fuel is not required at the de-activated cylinders, therefore, fuel economy is improved. The system is formerly known as Displacement-On-Demand [DoD]. GM claims that AFM can improve fuel economy by 5 to 7 percent.
The AFM here in the L99 is the second generation of the DoD technology. It utilizes electronically controlled solenoid valves in the oil pressure driven hydraulic roller lifters. As a result, intake and exhaust valves at each cylinder can be independently controlled.
During de-activation, both intake and exhaust valves are closed with exhaust gas retaining in the cylinder from the last combustion event. This gas will behave as a gas spring in the cylinder as the piston continues its routine up and downward stroke to reduce pumping lost.
The L99 doesn’t rev as quickly as any high revving, tuned by a piano maker, V8 from across the pond, but it revs smoothly without any synthetic sound to please any musician. The F10 BMW M5 plays prerecorded engine sound through the stereo; something is majorly wrong there. Under full throttle, the easily accessible 410 lb-ft of torque can effortlessly turning the 275 sectional width of the sticky tires into gluey smoke. Thanks to LSD and asymmetrical rear axle diameters (left 30 vs. 40 mm on the right) to reduce oscillation of torque from side-to-side and axle hop, the SS can lay down a pair of long, perfectly symmetrical black strips. There’s no waiting for turbo to kick-in, no boost lag or big spike in power. The power is instantaneous and linear.
When the smoke settles, and in light load condition when cruising on the freeway during the fuel maximization exercise, the involvement of AFM is felt by coarser NVH as if the engine is missing a couple of cylinders accompanied by dull throttle response. The instant fuel economy screen registers noticeably higher MPG reading. As the throttle pedal is squeezed in more, the AFM disables seamlessly. As all eight massive cylinders receive their fair share of fuel, throttle response is back to exhilarating.
Transmission – It is raw!
Mated to the backend of the L99 is GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic transmission with spoke mounted “TAPshift” buttons. The transmission has Sport and full manual settings. In Sport, the transmission is programmed to maximize performance by holding gear longer and shifts at higher rpm. In manual, shifting is via the “TAPshift” and nicely programmed that it won’t auto upshift when engine redline is hit nor auto downshift.
The shifting quality also matches the raw character of the SS. Both up-and-down shifting in manual mode are very harsh. It just slams in and out of gear. There is unexpected delay from time-to-time. That is something we expect; just like you can’t expect a pro-wrestler to have the same table manner as Queen Elizabeth II.
On a daily basis, particularly in auto mode, the rawness isn’t any concern as the Engine Control Module (ECM) filters out the harshness. However, during high performance driving the deficit comes from the one second or so delay in gear change, particularly during downshifting. This puts the car in the limbo zone for too long as I could literally count it gets out of gear, unlocks torque convertor, downshifts rev-match, and re-engages. Going downhill the forward momentum would lurch the car forward as the tranny is in neutral while it is doing its shifting thing.
The 6-spd AT can take on a lot of beating and still follows command without ignoring the driver like the 7-spd AT in the G37 that once you worked it too hard, it would over-ride the manual mode. This never happened in the Camaro. As long as it is mechanically feasible, this Hydra-Matic would shift as instructed despite the delay.
With that being said, its rawness enables the SS to hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 4.6s, and quarter mile in 13.1s at 109 mph. Also, it achieves EPA fuel consumption rating at 16 mpg City and 25 mpg Freeway with 19 mpg combined. From our 700 miles road test, the observed averaged fuel economy is 18.8 mpg. The highest MPG achieved using ultra-soft pedal input was 24 mpg. The worst observed fuel consumption was 6.5 mpg.