2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible review: Getting the formula right…


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The spirited driver’s drop-top Camaro does just fine with a V6 engine

When Wren told me this engine felt “right” in this car, I was a little skeptical, but after a night in and out of this convertible, I’d have to say he’s right. Sure, would I rather have the SS’ V8? Of course, would I kick this V6 outta bed for eating crackers? Not a chance.

The startup burble is surprisingly sharp, and up in the higher rev ranges it sounds good, too. I remember when this engine first debuted in this car, I thought it was a little too restrained, both in sound and performance. But chop a few hundred pounds out, add a louder exhaust setup and bam! This car is cool to be seen and heard in.

This Camaro Six has nice strong brakes with a short stroke, but the gas pedal is a little too easy for my taste. I’ve said it before, but I want to feel like I’m doing something with my right foot. The clutch pedal might be a bit too easy as well, and the catch point is high in the stroke, which takes some getting used to.

Like Andy said in his SS review, rear visibility is barely affected, and I’ll take the high beltline and good looks over a low one and better rear vision.

The interior is muscle-car stuff, which is to say, acceptable. I do love the temp and fan controls on the big central vents. And overall the cabin looks clean. But it doesn’t feel upscale at all.

Photo: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo 4

2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo by Autoweek

The car feels light with relatively sensitive steering, and even with that diet it took last year, the bumps seemed to be well absorbed by the mildly rigid chassis. Those potholes do send some sound into the greenhouse, and it’s not a solid thunk either. It’s more like a double rattle. I’d hope that doesn’t get worse over time.

Like most true convertibles, it looks way better with the top down. When the fabric is up, it ruins the lines. Oh, but it does keep most of the wind and road noise out — besides those potholes — and it looks solid from the inside.

At $40K, it seems a bit expensive for a V6 muscle car; I feel like this should be V8 territory and, as I look at the build-your-own site, you can get a base SS for $37,295 before destination. That mill is hammer, and you should do whatever it takes to get into it, insurance and gas prices be damned. But I can guarantee LT buyers, who don’t expect SS-like speeds, won’t be disappointed — in fact, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Jake Lingeman, road test editor

Photo: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo 8

2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo by Autoweek

OTHER VOICES:

Like Jake said, I’ve been preaching the 3.6-liter, V6-powered Camaro to friends, neighbors and basically everyone I’ve met since the release of the sixth-generation Camaro made its debut.

Sure, the 6.2-liter V8 is faster and sounds cooler snarling down the boulevard, but the V6-powered cars are far from slow.

Naturally, with this being a convertible, outright performance goes out the window, which makes the argument for those buyers even better.

Despite its folding top, this Camaro tester felt as fun as any of its coupe counterparts on the road and pulled hard on throughout the gears. Without trying too hard, I clocked a 7.0-second 0-60 time without launch control, which is more than fast enough for the folks that simply want the wind-in-your-hair experience, without throwing down for a mind-bendingly quick roadster from Jaguar or Ferrari.

The folding top does solve one of the ‘Maro’s biggest complaints — outward visibility. With the top tucked away into its hard tonneau, you can scan your entire surroundings without being blinded by a massive C-pillar. Interestingly enough, like Jake mentioned, because the Camaro has such poor sightlines to begin with, the folding top doesn’t obstruct your eyes any worse than the fixed top.

Also like Jake said, I was taken aback by how expensive this thing is — especially considering a stripper SS can be bought for less. I was thinking this might be the driver’s alternative to the Buick Cascada, or the modern muscle-car fan’s alternative to a Miata, but the price plops it firmly in should-just-buy-a-coupe territory. That being said, if you have money to spend and need a hilariously fun-to-drive convertible, the Camaro fits the bill.

— Wesley Wren, associate editor

Photo: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo 3

2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo by Autoweek

One thing we seem to have a hard time grasping around here is that a person who is shopping around for a convertible tends to want a convertible, not a coupe, which invalidates any “well, you could get a V8-powered coupe for this money” suggestions.

We’re not wrong to note that a coupe would weigh less, cost less and creak a little less when whipped around a track or back road. But we’re missing the point. The act of driving around with the top down is fun, which is why the Buick Cascada is a viable product.

That said, the Camaro convertible is — with the possible exception of the Mustang, which I don’t think I’ve tried yet — the best four-seat drop-top in this corner of the market. The chassis is light and lively, and the V6 is a good match for it. It’s a marked improvement over the previous version of this V6, which was suitably powerful but lacked character. There’s no deep-throated roar here — it has a sharper, higher crackle than the V8, but that’s fine by me.

Along with the chassis and interior upgrades, the new V6 helps elevate the middle-of-the-road Camaro above rental-fleet-spec. It’s different, and not a bad way to motivate what seems destined to be a balanced pleasure-cruiser.

Graham Kozak, associate editor

Photo: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo 6

2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Convertible Photo by Autoweek

Options: RS Package including 20 inch aluminum wheels with run flat tires, STD equipment tire sealant and inflator kit deleted, HID headlamps with LED signature, LED tail lamps and unique front grilles ($1,950); 3.6L V6 DI VVT engine ($1,495); dual mode performance exhaust ($895); technology package including Chevrolet MyLink audio system, 8 inch diagonal color touch screen select Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay capability, available with compatible smart phones and Bose Premium audio system ($800); black center stripe ($470); 20 inch all-season blackwall run flat bright silver-painted aluminum wheels ($100)



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