A couple months ago I was running a Cadillac ATS-V hard up through the canyons of Malibu, California, tailing a BMW M3 and a Mercedes-AMG C63 S as part of a comparison test. I was having a blast in the twin-turbo V-6 monster but couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing: a V-8. It’s safe to say that the team behind the sixth-gen 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS was a step ahead of me.
Based on the lightweight Alpha platform bones of the Cadillac ATS but with a 1.4-inch wheelbase stretch, the new 2016 Camaro SS features the one thing the ATS-V lacked. Replacing the LS3 V-8 from the previous-generation Camaro is a Chevy small-block V-8, the new Corvette Stingray’s LT1 6.2-liter V-8 making 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque—a 29-hp and 35-lb-ft bump from the outgoing Camaro’s LS3. In between that lovely V-8 and the rear wheels is a slick six-speed manual transmission; a fast-shifting eight-speed automatic is optional.
With more horsepower and a curb weight down 214 pounds from the last Camaro SS we tested, the new 2016 Camaro SS put down some frighteningly quick numbers at the track. The acceleration run from 0 to 60 mph took just 4.0 seconds, and the quarter mile was through in 12.4 seconds at 114.6 mph. That’s not only faster than the last Camaro SS 1LE we tested, but it also hangs with the 505-hp, 7.0-liter V-8-powered Camaro Z/28. A 2015 Camaro SS 1LE needed 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph and 12.9 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 110.5 mph; the big, bad Z/28 also did 0-60 in 4 seconds flat and finished the quarter a nose before the 2016 Camaro SS in 12.3 seconds at 116.1 mph. The new Camaro SS has brakes, too; the standard Brembo stoppers brought the Chevy to a standstill in 104 feet from 60 mph.In addition to hanging with the previous-generation Camaro Z/28 in a straight line, the new Camaro SS can do a pretty good job keeping up through the corners. The 2016 Camaro SS rounded our figure eight in 24.1 seconds averaging 0.85 g, and the old Camaro Z/28 did it in 23.6 seconds at 0.89 g. Although the old race-ready Z/28 is certainly ahead of the new Camaro SS, don’t forget that this is just the base V-8-powered Camaro; even more powerful (and better handling) Camaros are most certainly on their way.
Outside the confines of the test track, the new Chevy Camaro SS drives a lot like a lighter Cadillac ATS-V. The LT1 V-8 makes great power throughout its rev range and sounds wonderful doing so. Not to take anything away from the ATS-V’s 464-hp, twin-turbo V-6, but this is the engine the Cadillac ought to have. The powerband is so broad that you hardly need to shift the Camaro when running hard through the canyons, which is a shame because this six-speed manual is pretty fantastic. The gearbox is slick and precise with pedals perfectly placed for heel-toeing. Ride and handling are worlds better than the Camaro it replaces; steering is sharp, nicely weighted, and precise. And although prone to understeer at the limit, the Chevy is happy to hang the tail out with a dab of throttle. GM’s magnetic shocks are available on the Camaro SS, but our tester, a base Camaro 1SS, didn’t have the option. I can’t imagine needing it, as the stock steel springs helped keep the Camaro flat through corners and rode very well.Although the new 2016 Camaro SS is worlds better than the version it replaced, one question remains: How does it stack up with the 2016 Ford Mustang GT, its archrival from Dearborn, Michigan? Stay tuned.