Jump to content

2016 Camaro SS Drive

Frisky Dingo

Recommended Posts

We got our first Camaro in yesterday, a Nightfall Gray over Kalahari 8AT 2SS w/ no options. Suffice to say, after all the reviews and positive press, I've been dying to drive one. And I'm happy that we got an SS in as our first car. Of course, I would have loved for it to have been a manual, but I'll take what I can get. More on that in a minute.


Starting with the outside, pictures don't do this car justice. Not to how good it looks in the first place, or even how different from the 5th Gen car it looks. There are much more sophisticated design elements at work here than it's predecessor. Think of it as the old design shrunk down to 9/10's, pulled taught over it's skeleton, with more surface detailing and intersecting body lines tossed in for good measure. The front looks fantastic, it's my favorite view of the car. Next up is side profile, which really highlights the new lines. The rear is definitely my least favorite. It just comes off as a little too abrupt, and I'm not a fan of the rear wing.


The inside is a radical departure from the old car, and it's much better for it. Nicely finished and put together panels replace hard, coarse, low-rent plastic. The air vents which double as temp control dials are a great touch. The whole center stack is really nice. Simple, well-laid out, easy-to-use. I don't like the steering wheel that much. The rim itself is great- nice diameter, meaty, shaped right for driving- but the design of the  center section is pretty bad. It's like they looked to Aston Martin for inspiration here. Seats are great. They offer good adjustment and support, and are sized right. It was easy to find a comfortable position.


What we all want to know about is the drive, though. It is, after all, what this car is all about. Well, on that front, it drives great. But it didn't wow me, truth be told. I don't know if my expectations were too high, or the 8AT took too much away from the experience, or what. But it just didn't get the endorphins rushing. Let me clear and state all the things the car does right. The steering is very good. There is absolutely no slop, and it is marksman accurate. It could use a tad less weight, and a dollop more of feel, however. It handles fantastic. It turns in sharp, handles flat, and takes elevation and pavement changes alike with total aplomb. You'd really have to do something hamfisted to upset this car's chassis. It's just extremely well controlled and buttoned down. It brakes hard, with good, not great, pedal feel. It accelerates even harder, feeling every bit as strong as I recall the Z/28 being. And it all comes together in one very cohesive package. 


After several miles of twisty two-lane roads, however, it never really lit my fire. I know at least a substantial part of that was the trans. This was my best drive of it in a sporty application so far, and I don't care what the press releases or GM fanboys will have you believe, it is just NOT as good as dual clutch auto setups from BMW, Audi, Porsche, and the like. It's fine left to it's devices in Drive. And even it Sport Mode using the paddles, it offers quick, snappy upshifts under hard acceleration. Under part throttle, though, it's not as crisp. And on downshifts, the gulf between it and the aforementioned transmissions really becomes apparent. It just doesn't get down through the gears near as quickly or neatly. I absolutely could not buy this car in auto form. I am sure the 7MT is a tremendously more fun option. But I'm still not convinced that will elevate the car to the status I had in mind going into the drive.


Besides that 8AT, the visibility is still a strike. It's better, but it's still not great. The two humps of the pod the instrument panel are set in, in particular, are a detriment to your view of the road. It's not a terrible offense, but these are the kinds of things that separate great sports cars from merely good ones. The other complaint I have is the feeling of mass. While this car feels notably smaller and easier to place than the old car, there is still a feeling of mass in it's moves that saps a little bit of satisfaction. It really didn't feel any lighter than the new Mustang GT I drove. In fact, apart from the Camaro feeling much, much quicker, I didn't really find the car that much more enjoyable to drive than the Ford. It almost feels too friendly. I love the added refinement, but I can't help but feel like a little character was lost in the process. In comparison to that 5th Gen Z/28 I mentioned earlier, that car is immensely more fun to drive. Almost more than I can put into words. I would happily take the shortcomings of the old car's interior for that 'on-the-starting-block-waiting-for-the-pistol' demeanor combined with it's unabashed American attitude and glowing charisma.


I was expecting a drive of the new SS to cement my desires to buy one, but unless I get a go at the manual car, and it radically changes my opinion, that is no longer the case. I would rather spend the same money on an older ZL1 or SS sedan, or spend a little more and get an old Z/28. It's a high-water mark for the Pony Car game, but not a high water mark for personal driving experiences. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Minus the drive, what Frisky describes is pretty much what I got from the time I spent in the '16 SS, although I felt that the lower hood offset the humps on the instrument panel.

It's possible that the competence of the chassis takes away some of the drama of driving it. But that's a good problem to have, and can probably be fixed by digging through the settings for steering and whatnot.

Or you could wait and see what the 1LE is like. That's my plan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

After spending a good bit more time with the SS, I thought I'd make an update.



The manual transmission, as it does in so many GM cars, really does wonders here. The 6MT endows the Camaro with the fun-to-drive factor and user-connection a car of such nature deserves. The Performance Exhaust paired with it elevates it even further. It should just be standard, imo. The standard exhaust is far too quiet and dull. I've yet to drive a car with MRC, but the standard suspension tuning leaves me thinking it's unnecessary. 


I still love the power delivery of this car, and the new interior is a massive improvement. I do have some complaints in this area, though. I still don't like the steering wheel. The rim is nice, and it's a good diameter, but the face of it- size and design- is awful. Could be much, much better. Also, although the dash line has been brought down a bit, the hump of the instrument cluster presents quite a viewing obstruction. It's a pretty major fault that I take issue with. Lastly, the rear seats are really small. You'd be hard pressed to use them on a regular basis even with small children back there. This is another big flaw I feel limits the car's appeal.


Overall, I like the car, but I must admit, I'm not in love with. It does offer great performance, and it adds to it nice levels of refinement and amenities. But I still stand by my assessment that this car lost something in the transformation to this new car. It lacks some of the character of the previous car, imo. It looks as good, but I'm not sure better. The rear seats are not as usable. I think where the car excels is as fun, frequently-but-not-too-frequently used toy that has a fairly wide base of positions it can play. A fun cruiser for a night on the town. A passable companion for daily use if you don't need passenger-carrying ability. A nice weekend car to take down your favorite back road. I'd personally have to have a convertible car with a stick. Trying to use this car with the single-minded purpose of outright performance paints it with a few notable demerits in my eyes. This car will not satisfy your desire for a pure driver's car if that's where your heart lies. For me personally, I'd go with a previous gen ZL1 or C6 of some variant. 


That said, if you're an open-minded enthusiast who wants something fun that can be regularly driven without breaking the bank, do yourself a favor and before buying that A5 or 435i, go down to your local Chevy dealer. You might drive off in a Camaro, instead.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I love the camero and specifically the history plus I know the current auto's are damn good, I would pass on owning one due to the high beltline and clear blind spots in the rear. I would rather deal with the poor MPG but far higher seating position in an suv / cuv.

  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, let's just say this- I'd buy the Camaro with my own money, no question. 


But the Mustang looks better, and I could understand how people would buy it for that reason alone.

Id buy the Camaro with my own money too.


No Seriously.


I am a car guy at the end of the day and I definitely appreciate what this car has to offer in terms of sportscar-ability.

The Alpha Camaro V8 has got to be one of the best there is in the world no matter what genre you want to make it compete in whatever performance metric you want to throw at it.


But....I HATE the way it looks on the outside. (I could live with the less than stellar outward visibility from the inside)

And because I dont have the need (or money and demerit points to spare) to be Jacques Villeneuve (or Jan Magnussen) on the streets...a quite capable, even if a tad less than the Camaro, 2016 Mustang which  has a prettier face and body inside and out than said Camaro  will do...


And....because at my age where performance metrics mean less and less,  the other pony car which is more true to its muscle car roots is where my loyalties reside.

Dodge Challenger Scat Pack if not the Hellcat. Outdated chassis or not. It handles and drives and stops  better than any muscle car from the 60s-80s. Hell, it drives and handles and stops better than most sporty cars from the 1990s. It handles and drives and stops just fine for 2016...and it handles and drives and stops GREAT for what it is and THAT is what Im looking for!!!


So....with that being said....

The Camaro is one helluva ride. 

Edited by oldshurst442
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets


  • Create New...