The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible was revealed in Detroit last week, five weeks after the coupe version premiered, and ahead of its UK-market showroom launch at the start of 2016.
The official reveal came a day after images leaked online.
The open-air Camaro brings a number of what Chevy is calling segment-first features: the electro-hydraulic powered soft-top can open or close at speeds of almost 50km/h; it can be remotely opened via the key fob; and is hidden away when deployed by an automatic hard tonneau. The design emulates the silhouette of the coupe.
Like the Camaro coupe, the convertible gets a stiffer, lighter structure that helps reduce total vehicle weight by at least 90kg over the old one. It also has slightly smaller dimensions.
Chevrolet claims the soft-top retains similar chassis balance and dynamism as the coupe, meaning you'd be right to expect little loss of rigidity.
“From the beginning, the Camaro’s architecture was developed to incorporate a convertible with un-compromised driving dynamics,” said Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser. “Customers will appreciate what they don’t feel: quivers, cowl shake or an under-damped chassis typically found in a four-seat convertible.”
Chevrolet is also making a song-and-dance about the fact the roof can fold down completely beneath the belt line. The hard tonneau cover automatically covers the folded top, creating a finished appearance. To lovers of European convertibles this might seem de rigeur, but to US muscle car buyers, perhaps not so much.
“With many convertibles, you have to affix a tonneau cover manually – if it’s done at all,” said design director Tom Peters.
The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro range as a whole offers higher levels of performance, technology and refinement than its Australian-engineered predecessor, the company claims. Full mechanical details are under wraps. There's certainly a broader powertrain range to compete with the new Ford Mustang range.
A 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 205kW of power and 400Nm of torque is billed by the company as the most efficient Camaro ever.
GM has not released convertible performance figures yet, but in the coupe it has an estimated fuel economy rating of 7.8L/100km and is said to be capable of a 0-60mp/h (0-97km/h) time of under six seconds.
Next up in the cylinder count is a 3.6-litre V6. Equipped with direct-injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, the V6 generates a maximum of 250kW of power and 385Nm of torque.
At the top of the pile for now is the Camaro SS, which will come equipped with a 6.2-litre LT1 V8. This engine is shared in large part with the Corvette Stingray, and has been tuned in the Camaro to deliver 339kW of power and 617Nm of torque.
Inside, the driver-focused cabin is said to integrate class-leading control technologies, including a new Driver Mode Selector, configurable instrument cluster and a customisable ambient lighting feature. Of course, all this cool stuff about advanced roofs, better dynamics and new engines is largely academic for Australians and New Zealanders for the time being, given General Motors has previously told us there's no plan for right-hand-drive production in sight.
One suspects aftermarket converters are already planning their attack. As we said at the time, that decision stands in stark contrast to that of arch-rival Ford, which is turning the Mustang hero car into a global offering. Coupe and convertible versions of Ford’s pony car will arrive in this part of the world late this year.
General Motors’ decision to ignore RHD production for the Camaro mirrors its strategy with the new-generation Volt plug-in hybrid. That car, like the Camaro, won’t be made in right-hook.
The 2016 Camaro coupe and convertible will be produced at General Motors’ Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan.
Here's a novelty fact: in 1967, the Camaro’s first model year, the available convertible model came with a manually operated top. A power-operated top was a $52.70 option selected by 47.0 percent of buyers.