With its long hood, short deck, and open "mouth," this year’s Chevrolet Camaro evokes the sporty pony cars of lore. Loosely styled on the ’69 model, the two-door coupe aims straight for the hearts of young guys out to get the girl. Our bright-yellow test car came with a six-speed manual transmission and a GM LLT 3.62 V6 engine that puts out 304 hp at 6,400 rpm. Clad in clean lines and aggressive looks, this powerhouse aims to capture the original muscle in a modern vehicle.
You must be relatively slender and limber to climb down into this car. Once inside, it feels a bit dark and claustrophobic, no doubt due to the tiny windows and scant headroom — overall, the low-slung vehicle stands only 54.2-in. tall. A central instrument cluster sits on a wide expanse of black dashboard. Black leather seats contribute to the gloomy aura and the chunky windshield pillars further diminish visibility.
But, step on the clutch, engage first gear, and goodbye gloom. The car is a fun, fast, and powerful driving machine. It’s a surprisingly quiet cruiser with minimal tire and engine noise. We felt bad about having to put the Camaro through its paces on snowy city streets and freeways. It’s kind of like having a tiger in your back yard when what she needs is wide open spaces and a sunny clime.
We had not driven a stick for a while, so at first the car kept us on our toes to avoid lugging or even stalling-out. She has a rather stiff feel — the heavy, thick grip reminded us of a racecar. But staying engaged with the car by listening to the motor while shifting reaped large rewards in fast acceleration and good handling. Interestingly, the faster we drove, the safer the car felt. Her wide crouch hugs all hills and curves. Because the car tempts you to speed, it’s fortunate there are plenty of available safety features such as traction control, antiskid brakes, and front side airbags.
A nifty feature: Pushing the gear shift down, to the left, and up brings the car into reverse gear, upon which the vehicle chimes. This lets you know you are, indeed, in R and not 1’st gear. We also liked the layout of the gear slots. They spread horizontally instead of tightly vertical as in other manual-shift cars.
Options such as a rear spoiler, 20-in aluminum wheels, and high-density discharge headlights brought our tester from a standard price of $26,875 to $29,175.00.