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Old 02-21-2011, 12:54 AM   #1

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THE NEW YORK TIMES reviews Camaro convertible AND says Z28 will follow ZL1

TESTED Chevrolet Camaro convertible.

Around the Block | Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Celebrating Its Pony-Car Success, Camaro Goes Topless

Removing the roof solves a problem: limited driver visibility.

WHAT IS IT? A top-down stablemate of the Camaro coupe.

HOW MUCH? Base price, $30,000; $40,500 for the top-line 2SS.

THE COMPETITION Ford Mustang convertible, $27,995 base and $35,495 GT. (The Dodge Challenger does not, and will not, come as a convertible.)

WHAT MAKES IT RUN? Either a 312-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 or two 6.2-liter V-8s: a 400-horsepower L99 model with a 6-speed automatic and a 426-horsepower LS3 with a 6-speed manual.

IS IT THIRSTY? It is a surprisingly modest tippler, given its bulk (up to 4,116 pounds unloaded). With the automatic, the V-8 is rated at 16 m.p.g. city, 25 highway, and the V-6 at 18/29.

THE revived Chevrolet Camaro has been a big success for General Motors and a vindication for those in the company who fought for its resurrection. The sporty car’s nameplate was retired in 2002 for a perceived lack of consumer interest.

Last year, even though it came only as a coupe, the Camaro outsold its Mustang archrival, which came in more flavors: coupe, convertible and high-performance versions. It was the first time in a quarter century that Camaro won the pony-car sales race.

So the arrival of a much-delayed convertible version for 2011 seems to portend even greater Camaro sales glory.

The convertible is at least a year late to market, because of G.M.’s financial woes of recent years and the bankruptcy of the original supplier of the softtop.

Chevrolet seems to think that was a blessing in disguise for two reasons: the convertible arrives at what its marketers consider an optimal time to rekindle interest and sales in the current-generation car, which made its debut in 2009. Also, the supplier that replaced the original top maker delivered a much better unit. The roof is nicely shaped (not like the usual ribbed Conestoga-style top); is water- and weather-tight; and is acoustically dead-quiet.

One of the main complaints about the handsome coupe has been the poor visibility from its turretlike cabin. That issue is pretty much gone, of course, with the hardtop removed. And with the top up, visibility is no worse than in the claustrophobic coupe.

There are tradeoffs, including a more cramped rear seat, less trunk space and a weight gain of about 125 pounds — a result of extra chassis bracing. The bracing seems well integrated; engineers said that’s because the 21st century Camaro was designed from the start to be built as a convertible. The convertible mechanism and softtop, in either black or tan, are also about 125 pounds heavier than the hardtop they replace.

A longtime complaint about Camaro convertibles — dating from the late 1960s — was that they came with absolutely harrowing levels of cowl shake, steering column vibration and torsional sloppiness. Early models were so bad in this regard that G.M. parts departments actually offered shims to keep the doors from flying open when going through twists and turns, and “cocktail shakers” to keep the wheels on the ground. The euphemism for this level of chassis compliance was “boulevard ride.”

But for the new convertible, Chevy intentionally moved away from the old-school wet-dishrag sensation to a more controlled ride with tighter tolerances.

The new model is built with so much attention to suspension integrity that the engineers decided to apply the convertible’s calibrations to the coupes, improving the entire Camaro line. “It’s a rolling production change that is being applied to the coupes, too, going forward,” Russ Clark, Camaro’s product marketing director, said during a test drive in and around San Diego.

At the wheel, I could sense some significant vibrations at highway speeds on the worst washboard pavement, but nothing on the order of the all-time champ: the wobbly (and justifiably defunct) Chevy SSR pickup. G.M.’s engineers seem to have learned some valuable lessons: for a convertible, I would have to rate the Camaro’s overall handling very highly.

Although magazine writers and fanboys gravitate toward the thundering V-8 models — I call them the Incredible Bulk — I prefer the 6-cylinder Camaros. The thrifty but strong V-6 is pretty impressive, especially if you compare it with many of the V-8 cars from the Camaro’s original 1967-2002 run.

The V-6 feels, and is, lighter and more lithe on the road. The roguish V-8 seems as if it’s always primed for a stoplight throwdown, and that might become a little wearying if you drove it every day. Everything — from the steering to the handling — feels heavier.

The V-8 will propel the convertible models from a stop to 60 m.p.h. in 4.9 seconds, Chevy says, which is nearly as quick as the equivalent coupe. The V-6 can do it in about 6.2 seconds. The models with automatic transmissions can do this at least as quickly as the manuals, and with better fuel economy.

Chevrolet engineers said the topless Camaro equals the torsional stiffness of its Mustang counterpart — and even the BMW 3 Series convertible. These are bold claims indeed.

My nitpicks include an interior that is rather stark (even with the optional contrasting panels of the RS trim package) and not particularly compelling. The low seating position lessens the annoyance of wind buffeting. A wind baffle is not offered, though the more plebeian Chrysler 200 convertible has one. The tonneau cover is a little fussy to install.

The convertible comes in two trim levels, LT for the V-6s and SS for the V-8s; additional eye candy — and boy-racer stripes — comes with the RS appearance package. Top models also get fancier wheels, lighting, badging and a trunk-mounted spoiler with a radio antenna integrated inside.

Chevrolet expects most convertibles to sell at, or above, the sticker price, with few incentives needed or planned. More than 90 percent of sales are projected to be to retail customers, and the few cars that go into rental car fleets will be offered only through an exclusive arrangement with Avis.

Production started in Oshawa, Ontario, on Jan. 31, and the first convertibles are starting to reach dealerships.

The convertible is a significant addition to the Camaro line, but is hardly the final member of the family. A 2012 ZL1 with 550 horsepower was introduced recently at the Chicago auto show, and a reincarnated Z28 is expected to follow.

A limited run of 500 SS convertibles will be offered, for $47,000, to commemorate the Camaro’s selection as the pace car for the 2011 Indianapolis 500.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:41 AM   #2
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3rd Time is the charm
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:52 AM   #3

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Again speculations....

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Old 02-21-2011, 02:47 AM   #4
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Is the new york times invited to camaro team meetings now also?
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:20 AM   #5
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Yeah... And Motor Trend were calling the ZL1 a Z28 months ago. The writer pro ably spent an hour in the Z28 forum one day and took some nobody's thread as gospel. Heresay!

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Old 02-21-2011, 08:22 AM   #6
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They also said the RS package comes with stripes.... appearantly not the best source of intel...
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:23 AM   #7

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And I will be ready to buy if it does come out!
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:08 AM   #8
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Good review - but is it me or do all of these articles on the Vert sound the same? Almost word for word?
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:22 AM   #9
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I love how they just beat to death the whole visibility issue like everyone else. Are you kidding me? Over 190k cars since introduction. Smoked Ford and Dodge in sales. Clearly it isn't a real issue for the owners of them. Writer also doesn't like the feeling of the V8 being ready for a stoplight throw down. I love that feeling, maybe the writer should not bother to review a performance car and stick with Leafs and Prius.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:02 AM   #10
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I don't think it is out of the question. Team Camaro has addressed the GT-500. The next natural target would be the Boss 302.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:21 AM   #11
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"The roguish V-8 seems as if it's always primed for a stoplight throwdown". And this is a bad thing?
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jdenotter View Post
Again speculations....

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Yes, but it is very obvious it is going to happen.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:42 AM   #13

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Originally Posted by Apex Chase View Post
I don't think it is out of the question. Team Camaro has addressed the GT-500. The next natural target would be the Boss 302.
Isn't the Boss 444hp? What exactly would Chevy do to the camaro to beat that? add race headers to the SS? lol Or maybe twin turbo v6?
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