Dec 012014
 

Handling & Ride Characteristics – Mines Road Proven

According to GM, the Camaro’s body-in-white Zeta architecture was design to accommodate the convertible model from day one. To further alleviate structural deficits associated with cars without a roof: strut tower bar, transmission support reinforcement brace, underbody tunnel brace, front cross brace and stiffer cradle, and rear underbody braces are equipped exclusively to Camaro Convertibles.

Identical to the SS, the suspension components consists of MacPherson strut with dual-ball-joint on the lower A-arm in the front and 4.5 link independent setup in the rear. Springs are progressive rated by varying both coil spacing and diameter. Front-end alignment is fully adjustable for camber, caster and toe, while the camber and toe are adjustable in the back-end. Sway bars are 24, and 23 mm at front and rear, respectively. The rear sway bar end link is now mounted on the outboard side of the spring at the lower control arm compare to the 2012 and prior model’s inboard mounting position.

All the cornering power comes from a set of Pirelli P Zero staggered tires, 245/45ZR20 front and 275/40ZR20 rear tires; the under-tired front hinting the understeering trait when approaching the limit of adhesion.

The P Zeros have been earning a lot of our respects. Despite its simple tread pattern, the P Zeros are extremely capable for track use both from our past review on the SS, and a recent test drive in various Porsche sports cars. Now this time in a convertible, where it will be subjected to more road noise, the P Zeros are quiet on any type of open highway. The other new respect is from driving in the pouring rain during our test period. The tires stay connected with the road, and grips well in wet surface which offered high confidence. The nicely designed water-channel in the tread allows ponding water to escape, hydroplane resistance is excellent considering the width of the tires.

In the dry, this Camaro Convertible is capable of generating 0.9g lateral acceleration. The default traction and stability controls have high threshold, and allows certain degrees of wheel spin before interfere with the fun. By disabling both, skid pad donuts and burnouts are welcomed.

On the road, resonance of chassis structure from pavement bumps transmits into the cabin, and felt on the steering wheel. Unacceptable at times under normal driving on a typical local road. This problem was not encountered in the SS. Perhaps, the extra chassis stiffening in the convertible structure has changed the vibration frequency to a oscillation level that can be felt.

The chassis rigidity is rather solid however. The Camaro Convertible feels right at home on our test route where is the good test ground for structure strength, and suspension tuning. Majority of the cars feel like the entire structure is rattling loose, while some fail to keep the tires on the ground, or incapable to avoid hitting the bump stops. But our tester never loose it composure. Our kidneys remained intact. For a car in this size, GM did a great job in tuning the suspension that offers performance and comfort. This Camaro is Mines Road proven. Very few cars can earn this title.

The steering is conventional hydraulic-assisted. The rather large 16:1 steering ratio do feel sluggish under spirited driving. But family sedan trained impersonators would feel right at home with this ratio.
The road feel and feedback through the wheel is good with clear on-center feel.

While the steering is easy for the impersonators to adapt to but the Camaro’s sheer size 190.6” overall length, and 75.5” overall width can present a bit of a challenge.

Brake Performance & Feel – Proper

The stoppers of this 2-ton beast are single-piston calipers on 12.64” x 1.18” ventilated rotors in the front and 12.4” x 0.9” solid rotors with single-piston alloy calipers in the rear. 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) is employed. On paper this hardware is capable of stopping the Camaro from 60 mph in 125 feet.

The brake pedal is properly weighted, and easy to modulate. Under emergency braking, on the road, the braking distance seem to be longer than expected. There is no hint of brake fade ; given that the entire test period was raining where water continuously cooling the brakes off.

Features & Technologies – Fully loaded

Inside the cockpit, the human-machine interface is noticeably improved with the facelift. GM has listened to and addressed user feedback. The formerly criticized deep dash steering wheel, hard to read gauge cluster, and poor outward visibility had been rectified. A standard issue GM steering wheel is now fitted. The fonts on the gauge cluster is smaller and are better defined. The adorable head-up display is now multicolor and has more refined graphic than previous version. The rear view mirror is now virtually frame-less that gives more space in the windscreen for better forward visibility. The rear visibility remains poor. But the standard rear vision camera comes in handy and vastly improved safety.

This rear vision camera is integrated into GM’s MyLink audio and communication system. The heart of MyLink is a 7” high resolution touch screen display. It is fairly intuitive to use and it response to commands is on-par with the industry standard. MyLink starts to grow on us the more we rely on it for GPS navigation, and satellite radios. The Boston Acoustic 8-speaker audio system has excellent range of sound for all different kind of musics.

The interior has to be well-isolated from the outside environment for this sound studio to happen, and its trickier in a convertible where the interior is only a fabric or two away from the outside. The power-folding convertible top here contains acoustical foam in the headliner for reduced wind noise from the body’s 0.37 coefficient of drag and road noise off of the performance tires.

The front seats seem to offer more headroom in the convertible; now 37.8” vs. 37.5” in the coupe. The 10.2 cu-ft trunk volume do require some careful packing. The HID works excellently in the pouring rain. The LED halo rings just add to the unique coolness making the RS package as desirable as those big ol’ knocker.


Scoring System (1 being lowest; 5 being the highest)

Powertrain Performance & Refinement: 4

Handling & Ride Characteristics: 4

Brake Performance & Feel: 4

Comfort & Workmanship: 4

Features & Technologies: 4

LZG Recommendation Factor: 3

LZG Factual Ratings [Lower the Better]

Car Enthusiast Figures:

  • Dollar-to-Horsepower: $123.62/HP
  • Height-to-Width Ratio: 0.72
  • Curb Weight-to-Torque Ratio: 14.67 lbs/lb-ft

Soccer Mum Figures:

  • Dollar-to-Trunk Space: $3,914.70/cu-ft

P2096118M

Afterthought – Car enthusiasts do like plastic dolls.

If plastic doll impersonators are blonde then none of these matters. The Camaro Convertible RS with the modern V6 would get the job done without a doubt. For car enthusiasts like us that are after the muscle car punch, rumble, and other muscle car traits then the Convertible SS with the 6.2L V8 is our recommended pick.

Despite the topless wetness, thank you for giving us a red hot romantic weekend in Monterey. So long Ms. Camaro in the Red Hot coat. We shall meet again in the very near future. Hopefully a full figured plastic doll impersonator will be part of the ride next time. LZG

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