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Motoring: Finally, a Camaro worth driving

Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ

Chevy's fifth-generation Camaro might have changed this reviewer's mind.


Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 24th, 2014



When Chevrolet introduced the fifth-generation Camaro back in 2009, it was a car I wanted to love, but just couldn’t. While I thought it looked great, and had a promising drivetrain, many things about it were far from perfect.

The interior fit and finish was not good – the steering wheel had an awkward spoke, which made holding it a bit difficult. For driving, the whole car wobbled about as if it was sprung by water balloons and not springs and dampers.

I had never recommended the Camaro to anyone in the last five years.

That will change now.

I spent a week with the 2015 Camaro SS, which had the optional 1LE Performance Package. This car is worth your time to consider.

The car’s styling has evolved nicely. Some say it looks less meaner than the original fifth-gen model, but I actually prefer the slimmer front lights, and its redesigned rear cluster.

Open the door, and the interior has remained mostly the same as before, although with some trim pieces looking to have higher quality than before. One big improvement was with its infotainment system, which was a MyLink seven-inch colour touch screen system. The tester also had a suede microfibre covered steering wheel and shift knob.

I was impressed.

The good vibes kept on rolling in as soon as I fired up the engine, which in this example was a 6.2 litre V8 that produced 426 hp and 420 lbft of torque. Power from this monster engine was sent to just the rear wheels via a wonderful, tight and precise six-speed manual gearbox – if you can drive a manual, stick to the stick version. The noise this motor makes, which thanks to my testers dual mode performance exhaust made it all the better, was enough to seek out a smile from even more the most jaded car enthusiast.

Time now to take it for a drive. However, my first drive in it was far from perfect, thanks to the weather. It was cold and it was raining quite heavily, which was not at all ideal for the summer performance tires – Goodyear Eagle F1’s in 285/35/20 size. Just a light dab was enough to send them spinning. Caution was much needed. Since this is a driver’s car, I didn’t mind the extra attention it demanded.

By day three, the sun started shining brightly, temperatures climbed and the car was in its element. Not only was the front-end biting into the tarmac strongly into corners, but the heat also softened the rubber, which improved the ride quality.

In the city, the car is quite stiff, but it rides nicely on the highway. While I had no complaints on my long-distance drive in the Camaro, my wife thought the seat was not comfortable for her – the driver’s seat is possibly better padded than the passenger seat.

I liked the positioning of the steering wheel, pedals and gear shifter, which made driving the Camaro easy.

The only issue I had with it is something the fifth-gen Camaro has always had – its windows. They are all small and you feel like you are looking out of a mail box, but since this is a sports coupe that has to look good above all else to attract customers, I can forgive it of that.

I can also forgive it of its thirst. This car drank 13.5 litres/100 km of premium fuel – and if you drive mostly in the city, it’ll drink much more than that, which means it is not cheap to run.

But when you consider that this car has similar performance to the new BMW M4 (zero to 96 km/h in 4.7 seconds, top speed that’ll reserve you a long stay suite at the local police station - in other words, about 270 km/h), you can’t help feeling that the 2015 Camaro SS with the 1LE performance package is a steal at $44,820 – plus freight, fees and taxes.

I thought I’d never be a fan of the current Camaro, but the tweaks found on this latest 1LE packaged vehicle has transformed it into a proper driver’s car. Is it the best new sports car you can buy for under $50,000? Let’s just say, it’ll be hard to do much better.
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