2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS: Re-Imagining of an Old-School Muscle Car
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Early last summer, I tested the 2010 Camaro 2LT RS Coupe, all 304 horses of it, and found it to be, at about $30,000, a sexy, powerful, sporty and versatile icon-ocar that should play well with nostalgic, muscle-oriented and mainstream car buyers alike. After getting behind the wheel of the SS version, I found that it might not garner as many unit sales because of its nicheability, but three letters can describe the SS … W-O-W.
Based on the 1969 Camaro, this 2010 version is a nostalgic re-imagining of the original. It is a vintage, retro, old-school muscle car with 21st century enhancements.
Featured in the 2009 movie hit, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” and wearing yellow-and-black “Bumblebee” trim, the 2010 Camaro SS (Super Sport) is a wonderful homage to the Pony Car that began with the 1967 Camaro and ended in 2002. Originally built in response to the Mustang phenomenon, the Camaro built its own lore and following on streets and at the track, winning TransAm titles and leading the way in IROC (International Race of Champions) competition for 15 years.
Testing the brawny SS model a few months after putting its V-6 cousin through its paces, I observed the 426hp SS to be worthy of its cover-car hype. This is one awesome vehicle in performance, power and good looks and it lives up to its legend, on the road, behind the wheel and in the driveway.
Architecturally, the Camaro is exciting and reminiscent of its ancestor. It is bold from its signature front grille to its rear spoiler, melded together by front and rear body-color fascias, front air scoop and brake cooling slots. The evocative look is finished off with 20x8-inch Sterling Silver painted aluminum wheels up front and 20x9-inchers behind, covered by P245/45ZR20 summer (front) and P275/40ZR20 summer (rear) rubber.
The 2010 Camaro, with or without the bumblee stripes of the “Transformers” model, may be the top head-turner on the road this year – my test vehicle was enhanced by Inferno Orange Metallic paint with Black hood and hockey stripe package, but even a “stock” SS is guaranteed to turn heads.
Weighing in at 3849 pounds, the resurrected Camaro is about 400 pounds heavier than the last Camaro was in 2002, and if the lines are classic, so are the measurements. On a wheelbase of 11.23 inches, the 2010 Camaro is 190.4 inches long, 75.5 inches wide and 54.2 inches wide, presenting a low center of gravity and a low 0.35 co-efficient of drag.
Under hood is where the 21st century Camaro leaves the 1960s version in the dust. My test Camaro SS muscled up with a 426hp 6.2-liter, sequential fuel injected V-8 engine coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission. The 6.2 corresponds to a 378ci engine, while the 1969 SS used a 396ci engine that thundered out 375hp. The earlier SS smoked tires from zero to 60 in 5.9 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds. Not as quick as factory claims, my test version sprinted the zero-to-60mph test in 4.9 seconds and blazed down the quarter-mile in 13.4 (hand-timed).
With premium unleaded fuel recommended but not required, the SS is rated at 24mpg on the highway and a 19mpg average in mixed driving, my week of fun in the East Coast yielded an average of 18mpg covering nearly 500 miles. Behind the wheel, the SS was a confident thrill ride on the highway. There is unhesitating acceleration in all ranges, the tires are sticky on curves and hairpins and autocross turning, braking, drifting and acceleration were assertive. Steering is alert and accelerating into turns creates some fun understeer, and Camaro is never at a loss for acceleration when asked.
The sports suspension absorbed road irregularities with aplomb, but its stiffness also allowed a good feel of the road while driving at speed.
Inside, the SS is a combination of 1960s feel with 21st century tech. It is retro and simple, with lots of plastic, and the “no-navi” doctrine is a surprise, but the cabin is quiet, the element cluster is striking, and amenities include leather-appointed seats with heated front seats, Bluetooth wireless technology, front sport bucket seats and an audio system with CD/ROM and MP3. Roominess is adequate with 37.4 inches of front headroom and 353 in row two, leg room of 42.4 and 29.9 and shoulder room of 56.9 and 42.5.
Safety is attended to via dual-stage frontal, thorax side-impact, driver and front passenger, and head curtain side-impact airbags and a Passenger Sensing System.
Base priced at $33,725 my test Camaro was upgraded with the Inferno Orange Metallic paint, Black hood and hockey stripe package for $835 (The Transformers special addition package would have been $995); 21-inch tire and wheel package (includes 21 x 8.5-inch front and 21 x 9.5-inch rear machined aluminum wheels, summer performance tires, one vehicle set lug and nut package, tire pressure monitor sensors) for $4680; ground effects package for $2265; power sunroof for $900; cargo net for $45 and audio subwoofer which thumped on $1050. Destination charges added $795 for a net price of $44,295.
The 2010 Camaro SS is old-school driving excitement in today’s world.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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