The Chevrolet Camaro holds a special place in my heart, mainly because the 1992 Camaro Z28 was my first car. Under the hood was a 5.0L V8, which was good for a little over 200 horsepower – not bad for the time. My car had a 4-speed automatic transmission but was available with a 5-speed manual. I was the coolest guy at Saint John Vianney High School (in my mind) with that car… It was fast, looked cool, and I could fit all three of my best friends in it!
Fast forward to 2018 and you have the Chevy Camaro SS with a 6.2L engine. The Corvette derived pushrod V8 is good for 455 horsepower and 455 pounds of torque. Off the line you can do 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat with the 8-speed automatic transmission and 4.3 seconds with the manual. That is Porsche territory for a vehicle that starts at $38,000. The vehicle is obviously no slouch when it comes to raw power, but the new Camaro also makes a decent road course track car. Powerful Brembo brakes are standard on the SS model, as well as, a drive selection mode to tailor the car’s driving dynamics based upon on-road or track use. The noticeable differentiators with each drive mode are throttle response, shift points (automatic), body roll (with optional magnetic ride), the exhaust note, and how much or little the stability computer will let you slide the rear end before it catches you. When going around tight corners, the Camaro SS felt heavy in the front, which lead to significant understeer. But thanks to the immensely powerful V8, you can gently create rotation by carefully applying throttle to the rear wheels.
Half the fun of driving a Camaro is the fact that you are driving a car with superb style. Its striking lines offer an aggressive look. Whether you are behind the wheel of the coupe or the soft top, both offer a fastback profile that says you mean business. The SS version comes with functional hood vents for an authentic style in addition to increase engine cooling. The interior of the Camaro SS is a major upgrade over previous generations. Chevrolet got rid of the various flimsy and hard plastic materials. They replaced them with soft touch plastics, real leather and aluminum. My test vehicle came with a red-hot color combo that made this particular SS feel very special.
Unless you plan on tracking the car, the convertible version of the Camaro SS is the way to go. The joy of being able to put the top down on a sunny day is priceless; the wind in your hair and the roar of the 6.2L V8 turns boring drives into extraordinary. Due to the wind tunnel effect though, the most pleasurable speed to drive the Camaro with the top down is less than 50 mph, even with the windows up. Luckily putting the top up and down was extremely easy – you just press one button. The Camaro’s closest competitor, the Ford Mustang, seems archaic by today’s standards. The Ford Mustang requires an extra step; like on a car from the 90s, you to turn a latch and then a press button to raise or lower the top. Additionally, the Camaro allows you to operate the top when driving below 30 mph, whereas, the Mustang requires you to be fully stopped. This may not seem like a big deal but being able to drive while operating the top means that you can raise and lower the top in between stoplights versus having to pull over on the side of the road. It’s not all roses and sunshine with the Camaro… I have one complaint. When you close the top, the windows don’t automatically go up. Then you have to press a weird combination of buttons in order to raise both the front and rear side windows. With normal cars you have four buttons for four windows. It is like GM wanted to save a few extra dollars by removing two buttons for the rear windows. Once the top was closed, I was pleasantly surprised by how quite the Camaro SS Convertible was at highway speeds. It was quite enough to have a conversation without yelling and callers could hear me clearly via the Bluetooth speakerphone. Visibility was also comparatively good.
Everything considered, the 2018 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible could easily be your daily driver or a weekend car. Driving it made me feel like a kid again; I wanted to smash the gas pedal at every stoplight and blast loud music as I cruised around town with the top down. At the same time, I could also look like a respectable adult in the office parking lot… but it is more fun to pretend to be a kid again!