If you are a dyed in the wool American car enthusiasts you know how the rumble of a big V-8 can get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand. There is no exhaust rumble like that of big cubes, as in cubic inches. Though the nomenclature has changed from cubic inches to liters, the Camaro SS offers a symphony of exhaust that rivals any V-8. Yes, the stats say 6.2-liters but to the traditionalist it is still big cubes that count. We truly did found ourselves looking for bridges, canyons and tunnels just to better hear the thunder coming from the exhaust of this V-8.
Smaller and lighter the 2016 Camaro SS comes even closer to the King of the Hill American sports car, and its sibling, the Chevrolet Corvette. Not only does the 2016 Camaro SS have the Corvette’s engine under the hood this 6.2-liter V-8 equals the Corvettes 455 horsepower.
Having a smaller structure also means the interior is more compact it virtually swallowed us up in a secure and intimate cockpit. To some it may translate too confining, yet to us it felt secure and facilitated having all the controls and gauges right where we wanted. The grip on the rim of the leather wrapped steering wheel felt powerful in our hands. And for the first time the flat-bottom of the wheel, usually found on race cars and becoming more prevalent on road cars, was helpful in egress and exiting the car.
The interior design from dash to instrument panel and even the door trim is substantial in visual appearance and feel. Gone is any inkling of a plastic feel of past Camaros. There is even a cool boomerang design lighting trim on the door panels that we found to be a nice touch.
Not only did the lighting design catch our eye but the new LED ambient lighting system is integrated in the dash and center console. Some might find this quirky, but the interior lighting can change to 24 different colors, with fade and transition modes that spread across the interior. There’s even, as Chevrolet tags it, a theatrical “car show” mode that cycles randomly through the entire color spectrum when the Camaro is parked.
Yes the Camaro is considered a two plus two body configuration but we can tell you from trying, leave the rear seat for your travel bags and that is OK with us because any more than two folks is an oversold crowd in the Camaro SS.
Two transmissions are available, a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. We know that manuals are getting rebuffed by the majority of buyers, being replaced by the convenience of automatics. However, for our money there is nothing better in a vehicle with the performance the Camaro SS provides than a manual tranny. The feel of each shift is both physical and visceral adding to the enjoyment.
The six-speed manual equipped Camaro SS also is equipped with a feature that will make lesser drivers better at performance shifting. Rev match is activated via what would be paddle shifters for the automatic transmission. Pull back on the left for on and the right to turn off. Rev match makes less experienced drivers better at quick shifts as it blips the throttle at each down shift matching the engines revs to the speed of the gearing, virtually eliminating grinding gears. A number of other sporty vehicles have this feature and it is a natural for the Camaro.
Chevy engineers understand if you put big horses under the hood you had better put big brakes on the hoofs of your performance car. Camaro certainly has the brakes to keep this car reined in. Large and we mean serving platter size 13.6-inch front rotors and 13.3-inch rear rotors are fitted with huge four-piston Brembo brake calipers.
Chevrolet’s version of hill holding which holds the vehicle at a stop for a few seconds between removing your foot from the brake pedal and moving to apply the accelerator. This is especially welcome when navigating the streets of San Francisco when unconcerned drivers pull up nearly to your rear bumper on a street with a grade down behind you that is so steep perhaps a billy goat would second guess ascending.
The 2016 Camaro SS is the most powerful SS ever and performance is its keystone. Performance levels are heightened by Driver Mode selections. By moving through the four modes the driver can select Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport or Track. Each selection changes numerous vehicle settings respective to the description. Of course, as the Track setting implies this is best used under tight scrutiny as with this selection throttle, suspension and even the ambient lighting is set to the highest levels of performance driving.
This, the sixth-gen Camaro SS has just raised the level of performance for the SS and at the same time it has raised the level of driving satisfaction. We found it was the most fun when out exploring for that perfect road that ran through canyons, tunnels or under bridges just so we could better hear the big V-8 exhaust symphony. Just another reason to drive the 2016 Camaro SS.
2016 Camaro SS specification sheet next page.