Tired of every media outlet spouting the same public relations stuff about the greatest car to come out of Detroit since the Model A? Car manufacturers make it too easy these days. They hand out USB thumb drives with all the standard information, and the newspapers, websites, and magazines regurgitate on command. As well they should because it's important to get out the news about all the technological breakthroughs in this much-anticipated muscle car. But we decided to dig a little deeper to ferret out some details that might make your decision to buy a little easier. Nevertheless, should you still want all the specs and PR boilerplate, we've got it for you in its entirety on www.popularhotrodding.com (search keyword: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro).
When we got invited by Chevrolet to drive the 2010 Camaro back in mid March, we crawled over it with our cameras and notebooks and asked Camaro engineers about the stuff that jumped out at us that wasn't in the media kit. Here are 20 cool things--some good, some bad, and some just plain unusual. As hot rodding moves decidedly into the 21st century, it's clear to us that the 2010 Camaro is leading the pack.
As for driving impressions, we'll leave that to the string-back glove dudes. We'll just say that the Camaro SS has great handling, braking, and power to spare. The price is right, the gearboxes all work beautifully, and it's hands-down the most well-appointed and most comfortable muscle car ever built. But then you already knew that.
All The Specs
For complete specs on the 2010 Camaro and Camaro SS, log on to www.popularhotrodding.com Keyword search: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
Four-Bomb Gauge Cluster
Some 2010 Camaros include a gauge cluster with oil pressure (0-70 psi), voltage (0-19 volts), oil temperature (100-300 degrees F), and trans temperature (130-320 degrees F) in the center console. But what if you don't want to pay the extra $2,700 (to upgrade from the 1LT to the 2LT package in the V-6), or $4,200 extra (to upgrade from the 1SS to the 2SS package in the V-8) to get them? It turns out that the gauge cluster will be available from the Chevy dealership as an aftermarket add-on. All the sensors are already installed in the car, and the harness is even pre-terminated in the console. The only other thing you'll need beside the gauges is the jumper wire harness.
All you guys and gals in cold-weather states will be able to order your Camaro with the remote start option. That's not new. What is new is that the remote start receiver is located behind the rearview mirror, and not in the instrument panel where engineers wanted to put it initially. This actually adds to the cost and complexity of the build-out. The reason? Mounting it higher (and disguising it behind a dark tinted area of the windshield) gives it a super-long 300-foot transmission radius. Try that with your fancy Lexus!
We poked around the front fascia of the new Camaro looking for a way to make this cool-looking scoop functional, but it deadheads into the radiator and core support, and cannot be made functional for any reasonable amount of money. The stillborn Z/28 with the Cadillac version of the LS9 (with 556 hp) would've had a hood-mounted scoop with functional ram air.
Planning on bulking up the horsepower under the hood of your Camaro SS, say with a blower, or an LSX454 crate motor? You'll need a stronger rearend and axles to go with that. You might be tempted to swap in the rear from the Cadillac CTS-V, which has the de-tuned LS9 (556 hp) from the ZL-1 Corvette. Unfortunately, the Camaro's rearend is made by American Axle, not ZF (like the Caddy's), and is not interchangeable. Those of you planning on big horsepower upgrades will need to go with custom axles and control arms. Had GM pulled the trigger on the more powerful Z/28, it would simply be a matter of bolting in the extra Z/28 beefcake with factory part numbers.
There is no exterior lock cylinder for the trunk, not even hidden under the Chevy Bowtie emblem, so don't accidentally run your battery down. Your keyfob is the only way to enter the trunk from the outside. If you do run your battery down, you'll need to unlock the door manually, crawl in the back seat, flip down the seat back, reach into the trunk, and pull the emergency trunk release ripcord. You know, the glow-in-the-dark thing your kid gets to use when he misbehaves and you gotta stuff him in the trunk.
The Camaro has no spare tire, but it does have this nice electric air compressor mounted in a Styrofoam form fitted inside the spare tire well in the trunk. The compressor actually has two nozzles; one hose feeds pressurized tire-repair goo through a clear tube, the other pumps regular air. Make sure you don't get the two mixed up and accidentally fill your kid's floaty toys with sealing goo!
The battery is mounted where the spare tire normally goes--in the trunk at the bottom of the spare tire well. This helps give the Camaro an near ideal 52/48 weight distribution. Chevy provides a positive power terminal under the hood for charging and jump starting, so unless you physically need to change the battery, you can access it from under the hood.
Single Hood Strut
Until now, Camaros had two gas-filled hood struts. (Mustangs have a cheaper prop rod.) The 2010 Camaro has a single gas-filled hood strut, which saves weight, cost, and makes underhood maintenance just a bit easier too. We also noticed that the 2010 Camaro's hood is smaller and lighter than the fourth-gen hood, which is all good.
Secondary Door Striker
There is a primary and secondary door striker on both of the Camaro's doors--one in the normal place you'd expect, and a second one at the base of the B-pillar. The story behind it is intriguing. In order to preserve the Camaro concept car's long hood, engineers moved the front axle of the Zeta II platform forward 6 inches. Meantime, Chevy decided that they wanted the production Camaro to exceed Federal crash standards, and earn a five-start crash rating from the insurance institute. This required passing an extra side-impact test (not part of the federal test), the position of which is an arbitrary distance behind the front axle centerline. Since the Camaro's front axle is so far forward relative to other cars, the test's impact point was found to be not in the normal place--the B-pillar--but in the center of the door! Adherence to a styling principle, in this case, actually created a safer car.
Air Inlet Resonators
What's up with all the goofy warts and tubes on the inlet duct for the Camaro SS V-8? These are known as Helmholtz resonators, and help the Camaro pass federal drive-by noise standards, and to reduce unwanted resonances in the induction. They have to be different sizes and shapes to target different frequencies at different levels of attenuation. For a given atmospheric pressure, the longer the resonator, the lower the affected frequency. To attenuate a frequency (reduce its loudness) the length will be a multiple of the affected wavelength. Also, the wider the aperture, the greater the attenuation at that frequency. These two photos show three different Helmholtz resonators which target three specific frequencies.
Console USB Port
There's nothing new about MP3 compatibility. For years, you've been able to jack your iPod or MP3 player into most stereo systems with a simple 1/8-inch stereo phone jack. Some newer cars will even let you plug your iPod or MP3 player in through a USB port, so you can simultaneously play tunes while charging your player. The Camaro takes it a step further. You can load all your tunes on a simple USB flash drive--not an expensive player--and the Camaro's audio system will read the MP3 file right off the drive. USB flash drives are dirt cheap: a 1 gig jump drive--enough to hold about 20 CDs worth of material--costs about $7. Even better: the Camaro's USB port is out of the way in the back of the center console.
The V-6 Miracle
In strict engineering terms, the 3.6L direct injection V-6 in the Camaro is the Immaculate Conception of powertrains. It makes 304 hp with two fewer cylinders than a GT Mustang's mill, and does it on 87 octane with an 11.3:1 compression ratio, while pulling down 29 mpg on the highway. The only reason tree huggers don't like it is that Chevy stuffed it in a car that looks too cool for them. Don't, however, expect to go hunting Mustang GTs with it. In spite of what gung-ho PR types want you to believe, the extra 200 pounds of curbweight and 52 fewer lb-ft of torque will keep a V-6 Camaro comfortably in the still-inexpensive GT's rearview mirror.
Paddle Shifters That Work!
The week before the Camaro drive, I spent a horrid day trying to manually tap-shift a manual-matic BMW 3 Series through an autocross. (Don't ask.) It couldn't stay in the gear I selected to save its arrogant Teutonic life. The same goes for the Dodge Challenger's five-speed AutoStick. Chevy has rectified the problem with the Camaro; all automatic six-speeds come with paddle shifters, and when you slide the shifter into "Manual," it stays in the gear you put it in, and damn the torpedoes. Bravo Chevrolet! You will, without reservation, be able to autocross or road race an automatic Camaro.
No Nav System
The biggest "oops!" moment in the Camaro design process was the omission of any nav system upgrade. Instead, you have the option of paying for OnStar, and using OnStar's turn-by-turn audible directions, which are supplemented by arrow indicators on the driver display. To get turn-by-turn directions, you need a subscription to the Directions and Connections plan, which costs $299 per year (versus $199 for the basic Safe and Sound program). Summit Racing has a really nice private-label GPS system for $149 (part No. SUM-900151B) that ought to get the job done.
Humongous Quarter Stamping
OK, you probably heard about this one: the Camaro's rear quarter-panel stamping is almost 10 feet long, and encompasses the rear quarter panel, the C-pillar, roofline, and A-pillar. It is the deepest stamping draw GM has ever attempted, and the stamping die was designed 113 times before it was finally right. (Stampings this complex often tear or wrinkle the metal long before it reaches its final shape, so this represents a technical and styling milestone.) The continuous panel eliminates many gaps and seams, creating one smooth, gorgeous body contour.
We believe Volkswagen--the only auto company to turn a profit in 2008--provided the inspiration for the Camaro's switchblade key. Other than the relatively minor difference between the push buttons, it's identical to the VW key. We pressed GM designers about the uncanny resemblance, and they told us: "It's our own design." We don't care where the idea came from, or who did it first, we just dig impressing the neighborhood kids by popping the button.
Keep repeating: it's not a Volkswagen key, it's not a Volkswagen key... The push button switchblade key is cool though, no matter what car it starts.
Steering Wheel Really Round!
This has been bugging us for a long time, and we know it's crossed your mind too. We've only had studio shots of the Camaro and Camaro concept to go on for the last three years, and all that time we thought the steering wheel was either egg-shaped, or there was some weird Photoshop action going. It turns out, it was an optical illusion created by the center hub of wheel being an inch and a half lower than the actual center of the wheel. In both shots, we're pointing to the actual pivot point for the center of the wheel.
It's not an optical illusion--the Camaro's steering wheel really is round. Not only that, it doesn't wobble when you turn it. As the photos show, it does rotate around a central axis, which is not in the center of the hub like you expect it to be.
GM Performance Division
The 2010 Camaro SS gets the coveted GM Performance Division badge under the hood, signifying that it was engineered and developed by an elite group of power-hungry speed demons in Warren, Michigan. The Camaro SS, however, will be the swan song for GMPD--the same people who rebuilt Project X--as the ber-division was officially disbanded in February, right after Detroit's execs were hauled in front of congress for their bailout hearings. Those who buy a 2010 Camaro SS will be getting a small piece of history right under the hood, attached to the radiator core support. These plaques will be collector's items sooner than we'd like.
Shift Pattern Warning!
Can't wait to get to the dealership and test drive a manual six-speed? Heed this warning: Do not test drive a manual trans V-6 Camaro after test driving a manual trans Camaro SS. We almost wrecked $60,000 worth of Camaros, so we're not joking. Both V-6 and V-8 Camaros have six-speed manual transmissions. Reverse gear on the V-8 is in the normal place--to the right and up. On the V-6 (which sports an Aisin-built gearbox instead of the Tremec), Reverse is to the left, and up--that's exactly where First is on the SS. Driving the V-6 after a long day behind the wheel of an SS, we almost front-ended the Camaro behind us--twice--on a steep uphill after waiting for a green light. Doh! Can we suggest a reverse lock-out ring for future V-6 models?
Look hard. The manual shift patterns are very similar between V-6 and V-8 Camaros, but with one really minor--and potentially very dangerous--difference. Never was there a better argument for a reverse lock-out on the V-6.
With GM Performance Division disbanded and all its employees reassigned to other divisions, the Z/28 super Camaro program has been cancelled. According to the Chevy executives we spoke to, the Z/28's engineering, validation, and component sourcing was already completed when the plug was pulled. Don't blame Chevy though. The timing couldn't have been worse; with bailout hearings in Washington, D.C., and public scorn for executives flying around in Lear jets, the Z/28 was a "shameful" car that GM couldn't be seen building in the current environment. The Z/28 would've had the supercharged, intercooled 556hp LS9 from the Cadillac CTS-V, along with a beefed up drivetrain, functional ram-air hood, SS stripes, and huge cohones.