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Old 08-27-2008, 12:01 PM   #1
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Popular Mechanics has their drive

http://www.popularmechanics.com/blog...s/4279655.html

"SAN DIEGO — "Please keep in mind these are prototype vehicles not representative of final build quality or tuning." That's the line we get every time we drive an early test car of an upcoming model. And for good reason: Prototypes are usually rough, cobbled together mules with rattling interiors and powertrains that make noises that are, well, not exactly good noises.

But we got no such speech yesterday from the Chevy guys.

Instead, we were tossed the keys to a pair of 2010 Camaro prototypes—and simply told to go drive them. It seems Chevy is mighty confident about these early Camaros. And after three hours driving the twins on some of the twistiest, most aggressive roads in San Diego County we discovered Chevy has good reason for this confidence. Rest assured, Camaro fans, this is going to be a very good car. —Ben Stewart


The Specs
The Camaro is based on GM's global rear-drive architecture, referred to as "Zeta." That's the same one Pontiac uses for the new G8 sport sedan and upcoming pickup, the Pontiac ST. The lead development for all vehicles riding on this chassis is GM's Australian Holden subsidiary in Melbourne. It engineers not only the Zeta-based vehicles for the U.S. and Australia, but also works on models for markets like China and even Saudi Arabia.

For Camaro duty, Engineering Program Manager Anthony McCormack tells us the front wheels were pulled forward 3 in. and the rear wheels ahead by 5 in. to give the Camaro proper ponycar proportions. The final wheelbase sits at 112.3 in., 2.5 in. shorter than the G8.

But the Camaro isn't merely a shortened G8 with new sheetmetal. In order to maintain a low hoodline that apes the original Camaros of the 1960s, and fit the mammoth tires that come on RS and SS models, McCormack says much work was done on the front suspension. The front struts were given efficient mounting systems to allow maximum wheel travel in the least amount of space.

The rear independent suspension is mostly carryover from the G8, but with unique tuning and gearing in the rear axle. All Camaros use an 8.5-in. rear differential except the V6 automatic cars. They get a smaller, lighter unit.

Both prototype Camaros we sampled were equipped with GM's 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 engine. That's the same motor Cadillac uses in the new CTS. Here, the company tells us, it will make "over 300 hp." Final horsepower numbers for both the V6 and V8 Camaro will be released later this year. But as we reported earlier, the automatic V8 cars should hit around 400 hp, and the six-speed manual car around 422 hp.

The vehicles we drove were both what GM calls Integration Vehicle Engineering Release (IVER) vehicles. Chevy has built approximately 100 of these, and many were constructed to test specific paradigms—solely for crash testing, ride and handling, or powertrain. But our black automatic Camaro and zebra-striped six-speed manual cars were basically the valedictorians of this class. They were built in Australia (production Camaros will be built in GM's former truck plant in Oshawa, Ontario) and singled out as "Golden Cars" by the test engineers. Throughout the entire development process, these have been updated and refined all the way through as the latest-spec components became available. In other words, at the time we drove them, these cars were about as good as it gets.

Other than transmissions and tires, the two cars were identical in spec. The black one was equipped with the 6L50E six-speed automatic transmission and base-level P245/55R18 tires. The zebra-striped unit was packing the Aisin Warner six-speed manual and larger P245/50R19s.

Inside, these Camaros really did look like prototypes. The dash plastics were smooth and unfinished. The center console had cupholders that were too shallow. And there was a big wad of electrical tape securing a tweeter to the bottom of the A-pillar. The radio itself was covered in clear plastic—so no tunes for us. We did learn one interesting tidbit about the interior that has been updated recently. The optional console mount gauges on Camaros we've seen before have included a "torque meter." This, we thought, was an odd choice for this valuable real estate. Well, apparently the engineers thought so too. Both prototypes had transmission temperature gauges in place of the torque meter. McCormack says the torque meter is history.


The Drive
Get past the design of the Camaro, and the first thing you'll notice is the exhaust note. We've driven the Cadillac CTS with this same engine, and it has never sounded, well, sporty. McCormack says the sound of the exhaust was a major priority. The engineers have gone through so many muffler iterations, he can't count them all. The sound they've come up with (and we hope the one they stay with) is most reminiscent of a Nissan or Infiniti V6. McCormack says it reminds him of the Nissan 350Z. And that's about right. It sounds like a performance engine the moment you tip your toe into the gas pedal. That's certainly not true of the V6 Mustang.

The V6's thrust feels just like the aforementioned CTS, perhaps even stronger. Chevy claims V6 Camaros will hit 60 mph in about 6 seconds flat. From the driver's seat, it's a satisfying rush. The V6 pulls strongly to the 7000 rpm redline and, yes, the manual car will do a nice smoky burnout and even barely chirp second gear.

The view through the windshield is 1960s cool. Unlike many cars today, the driving position of the Camaro does not mimic an SUV. In fact GM lowered the seat high over other Zeta vehicles to provide a more cocoon-like experience. It works. The gauges are just below eye level. Raise your sightline slightly and you get an eyeful of hood scoop. It's the subtleties that make this car feel right.

One would expect a V6 Camaro to have a reasonably comfortable ride. And it does. All V6 models come with an "FE2" grade suspension. That means more compliant springs and dampers and less aggressive sway bars than the FE3 tune that V8 SS cars will wear. The prototypes were very quiet at freeway speeds. The ride over these three freeways of varying surfaces was so cushy that we were predicting limited handling potential. Wrong.

On the tight and twisty roads outside of town, the Camaro showed incredible poise. We hammered both prototypes hard into every corner and they felt tight, near production quality. Both sets of all-season tires returned excellent grip, and we rarely got a peep from the stability-control system. The soft suspension seems to firm up for back-road hustling. There is body roll, but it helps you get a sense of the chassis limits, which are surprisingly high. Once you do hit those limits, it's progressive oversteer that seems easy to catch. The entire experience makes you want to push the Camaro harder—it's fun. The brakes too, which are 12.64-in. front and 12.4-in. rear (not the special 14-in. Brembos on the V8 cars) were surprisingly powerful. After many hard downhill canyon runs, we smelled the brake linings, but noticed no fade. The steering is quick and has decent feedback too. Maybe a bit too much feedback. On some of the rougher patches of road, with the suspension loaded up for a corner, the steering wheel dances around in your hand. Maybe that tendency will be addressed before production.


The Bottom Line
The V6 Camaro provides a glimpse into our performance future. Yes, it's easy to dismiss any Camaro that's not packing the grunt of a small-block V8. And no, this car won't smoke your buddy's SRT8 Challenger. But it does prove that a trim Camaro that gets around 26 mpg on the highway can be quite a lot of fun.

But what of future powertrains? At the more economical end of the spectrum, McCormack didn't rule out the use of GM's Two-Mode hybrid system. We suggested the new 4.5-liter truck diesel, and he flatly stated that this engine wasn't appropriate for the Camaro. He did indicate, however, that the 2.9-liter V6 in the European CTS could be under consideration.

At the other end of the spectrum, he confirmed that no test mule he'd seen had been equipped with the ZR1's massively powerful LS9 V8. The Z06's 505-hp 7.0-liter LS7 engine already has a spot atop the Australian home market in the Holden Commodore sedan. Could an LS7 power a reincarnation of the ZL1 Camaro? Let's hope so."

This seems like a pretty good write-up.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:20 PM   #2
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I like this part... :

Quote:
The V6 pulls strongly to the 7000 rpm redline and, yes, the manual car will do a nice smoky burnout and even barely chirp second gear.
But this concerns me...:

Quote:
Unlike many cars today, the driving position of the Camaro does not mimic an SUV. In fact GM lowered the seat high over other Zeta vehicles to provide a more cocoon-like experience.
Why? Because I'm only 5'8" and usually have my seat height as high as possible so I can see better. Does GM offer any kind of seat riser option, besides power seats, similar to the one it does for lowering a seat for taller people?
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:21 PM   #3
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Yeah its called a phonebook..JK
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:21 PM   #4
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niiiiiice! We're 3/3 with the rags so far!
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:24 PM   #5
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Yeah its called a phonebook..JK
Smarta$$. I gave up on those years ago...too much sliding during "spirited" driving.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:31 PM   #6
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On a serious note it would be nice if the seats would accomodate diffent height requirements. I wish more cars had the adjustible pedal for my wife. She is all of 4'8. She has to set the seat all the way up and still has to sit forward into the steering wheel. Very dangerous. When she gets in the car to drive and sets the seat up all the way, I ask her "dont you wish the people that design these things would give you somethin to help you out?" She says "Yes" then I reply "That would be Smurf-rific if they would smurf a smurf so that the smurfs could smurf without smurfing the smurf so smurf"
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:32 PM   #7
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<"There is body roll, but it helps you get a sense of the chassis limits, which are surprisingly high. Once you do hit those limits, it's progressive oversteer that seems easy to catch. The entire experience makes you want to push the Camaro harder—it's fun.">
That's the second time I've read that it's fun to push hard...good.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:33 PM   #8
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I like my wifey's Jetta's seats (yeah, I know - Jetta this, Jetta that ) but they also adjust up and down, which is great, because she likes to sit high, and I prefer low. Perhaps, since it looks like we're getting a power driver's seat, we'll get the same adjustability.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:35 PM   #9
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5'8 isnt that short though i dont know if you would have TOO mcuh of a problem but there are always pads you can buy to sit higher, my uncle made one for my sister when she got her eclipse since she wasnt used to the bucket seats and sitting so low...(get an small seat cushion and u should be good
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:49 PM   #10
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I'm hoping the power seat goes up high enough. It would be nice if the passenger seat was power also for height adjustment (I've only seen the driver's seat listed as having the power option). My wife is only 5'2" and is going to hate feeling like she's sitting in a hole surrounded by sheetmetal.

I just remember test driving 2002 Camaro and Firebird models that didn't have the power seat option and hating that I couldn't see all that well because I was sitting on the floor. I guess I've gotten used to sitting up higher since I have my power seat in my truck cranked all the way up as well.

As for the Jetta seat adjustment- it's so simple - why can't all manufacturers offer that option? Oh wait, because then they couldn't charge $500 for a power seat that does the same thing.

Anyway - enough about the seats - seems like I'm probably in the minority here.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:53 PM   #11
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In all seriousness. Have you ever contacted GM and asked if you could get some longer bolts and put some spacers between the floorboad and seat frame to give a little more height without compromising safety? My wifes problem is her short legs so the only option is with getting the pedals extended.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:01 PM   #12
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LS7 engine already has a spot atop the Australian home market in the Holden Commodore sedan. Could an LS7 power a reincarnation of the ZL1 Camaro? Let's hope so."
What da!? Didn't we already establish the LS7 was going boo buy.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:05 PM   #13
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I haven't contacted GM yet. I figured I'd wait until I could sit in a Camaro with the power driver's seat and see how it felt. If it doesn't work for me, then I'll look into getting something to raise the overall height of the seat. Safety is a key concern with going aftermarket for the seat riser/spacers and bolts. At least I know that GM would have to do some level of crash worthiness before offering something.

As for the issue with the pedal length, I'm pretty sure that is the one thing that sold my wife on buying her '04 Expedition. The power pedals option made it so that she can sit normally and bring the pedals closer to her without having to sit so close to the steering wheel. Nice feature that would be good to have as a standalone option in nearly every car sold.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:06 PM   #14
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Well Instead of going the "Ford" route. I guess I'll just keep getting her those Go Go boots for Christmas.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rolnslo View Post
I like this part... :



But this concerns me...:



Why? Because I'm only 5'8" and usually have my seat height as high as possible so I can see better. Does GM offer any kind of seat riser option, besides power seats, similar to the one it does for lowering a seat for taller people?
The Mustang sits very low as well, but I'm 5'6 and can see out of it fine. I'm sure GM will do the same thing.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by radz282003 View Post
http://www.popularmechanics.com/blog...s/4279655.html

" McCormack says the torque meter is history."

why?!?! I thought that was one of the coolest things. Now i dont even know if i want the cluster. On second thought yes i do but still that sucks no tourqe gauge.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by rolnslo View Post
I'm hoping the power seat goes up high enough. It would be nice if the passenger seat was power also for height adjustment (I've only seen the driver's seat listed as having the power option). My wife is only 5'2" and is going to hate feeling like she's sitting in a hole surrounded by sheetmetal.

I just remember test driving 2002 Camaro and Firebird models that didn't have the power seat option and hating that I couldn't see all that well because I was sitting on the floor. I guess I've gotten used to sitting up higher since I have my power seat in my truck cranked all the way up as well.

As for the Jetta seat adjustment- it's so simple - why can't all manufacturers offer that option? Oh wait, because then they couldn't charge $500 for a power seat that does the same thing.

Anyway - enough about the seats - seems like I'm probably in the minority here.
When the 2007 Sky came out it had no height adjustment for the driver's seat, Mid year after there was a request from customers for that they made standard the driver seat height electrically adjustable. if there is enough call for it and it isn't there to begin with then GM will make changes...
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:39 PM   #18
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well we know it's not got an LS9 in it. lol
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:53 PM   #19
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No, we know he's never seen a mule with a LS9.......










sorry, couldn't help it......
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:12 PM   #20
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If you watched the videos on the milford experience on another thread they had short and tall people driving the new camaro and everyone said it fit them like a glove. No worries im sure the seats, and steering wheel are all fully adjustable.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:25 PM   #21
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exciting! but i too will miss the torque meeter:(
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:35 PM   #22
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why?!?! I thought that was one of the coolest things. Now i dont even know if i want the cluster. On second thought yes i do but still that sucks no tourqe gauge.
Me too, I was hurt when I read the torque gauge is gone. I think it should be on the SS' and the V6 can have the trans temp gauge.
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:09 PM   #23
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The Mustang sits very low as well, but I'm 5'6 and can see out of it fine. I'm sure GM will do the same thing.
The automobile said you sit a bit higher in it than you do in other cars in it's class. It's funny that someone is here complaining about sitting too low because I'm pretty sure in the thread from automobile someone is complaining about sitting too high.

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Originally Posted by ckellyme3 View Post
why?!?! I thought that was one of the coolest things. Now i dont even know if i want the cluster. On second thought yes i do but still that sucks no tourqe gauge.
I could live without the gauge cluster. But what bugged me about the torque gauge is that (and I've observed this before) it only went up to 350 lbft when the car (in V8 form) produces around 400 lbft. Unless I misread something that was the case.
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:13 PM   #24
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The automobile said you sit a bit higher in it than you do in other cars in it's class. It's funny that someone is here complaining about sitting too low because I'm pretty sure in the thread from automobile someone is complaining about sitting too high.

I could live without the gauge cluster. But what bugged me about the torque gauge is that (and I've observed this before) it only went up to 350 lbft when the car (in V8 form) produces around 400 lbft. Unless I misread something that was the case.
I think we were looking at the V6 cars, because, like you said, it doesn't make sense for the V8 car. I wonder how it calculates power anyways...
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:22 PM   #25
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I think we were looking at the V6 cars, because, like you said, it doesn't make sense for the V8 car. I wonder how it calculates power anyways...
Hopefully. The gauge is a little gimmicky, but it would be a nice little gadget that could enhance the interior of the car.
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