The years 2005 through 2010 saw a huge rebirth of the American muscle car movement, and in the most nostalgic manner possible. As if they had coordinated, Detroit’s Big Three automakers released modern rehashes of their iconic pony cars that made it big in the 1960s and ’70s, with styling that, while modern, was an undeniable homage to their respective heritages.
Ford’s Mustang came first in 2005, and it was followed up by Dodge’s Challenger in 2008. The Chevy Camaro completed the trifecta in 2010 and has been mildly updated since. With a new Mustang making serious headway after its launch last year, Chevrolet has rightly decided that it’s time to overhaul its own budget-based performance car.
With the new Mustang — the Camaro’s arch nemesis — sporting multiple new features like a turbocharged four-cylinder, independent rear suspension, and crisp, modern looks with universal appeal, the chunkier Camaro has some headwinds to overcome in its quest to overtake the Mustang’s latest iteration. Coupled with Dodge’s insane 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat, the stakes in the muscle car race have rarely, if ever, been as interesting.
Chevy has been showing us that it’s up to the task, however, by releasing a stream of teaser shots of the new Camaro’s components before its official reveal on May 16. Chevy is promising that the new Camaro — the sixth generation of the car — “will set the technological benchmark for the segment,” a bold statement in a market that is constantly striving upwards. Let’s see if it’ll deliver.
1. Extensive use of aluminum
This photo illustrates Chevy’s commitment to keeping with the times, which in this case is the growing trend of aluminum architecture. Though Ford’s F-150 may be setting the mark for aluminum use in volume models, the Camaro is embracing the lighter-weight metal with gusto. The beam pictured will “support the instrument panel, which is 9.7 [pounds] lighter than the previous steel beam.” Chevrolet also notes that changes like these have helped the engineers shed 200 pounds off the curb weight of the new car.
2. Unique parts
Though GM’s 6.2-liter V8 engine sees use in everything from its SUVs to its two-seater coupes, the formula has been adjusted to ensure that the unit seeing action in the 2016 Camaro is unique. Roughly 20% of the parts installed on the powerplant will be exclusive to the new car, including the pictured tubular “tri-Y” exhaust manifolds, which we presume will drastically open up the engine’s breathing capabilities.
The Camaro will have them, in case there was any doubt. Chevy teased the above set of alloys that will likely be available as an optional upgrade from the base rims. They’re distinctly modern but feature the original five-spoke design that was worn by Camaros throughout the 1960s and later.
Little was said about what makes the new Camaro’s brakes special, but it’s a safe bet that they — like everything else on the car — have been re-engineered to be lighter and more effective at the same time. Chances are good that the stock brake setup will remain similar to the current generation’s, with available upgrades for the higher trims, like the Brembo kit for the ZL1.
“The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro features an enhanced dual-mode exhaust system, with electronically controlled valves that bypass the mufflers under acceleration for improved performance and greater sound levels,” Chevrolet said. Buyers can choose between modes like “Stealth,” presumably for carting around quiet cul-de-sacs, and “Track,” which presumably offers the full, no-holds-barred auditory experience.
6. New suspension through and through
Not to be left out of the trend of improved handling in muscle cars, the new Camaro’s suspension setup has been rebuilt out of lightweight aluminum and other composites which are even lighter, helping shed 21% of the whole system’s weight. This pulls more weight off the corners to help sharpen the car’s handling in various conditions, often seen as the Achilles’ heel of muscle cars.
For the first time the Camaro SS will be available with Magnetic Ride Control, previously available only on the Camaro ZL1. The active damping system offers three preset programs — Tour, Sport and Track — that adjust the ride and handling balance. From there, it reads road and driver inputs at 1,000 times per second, and automatically adjusts the dampers for optimal performance.
7. New alpha-based construction
The new Camaro will be built on GM’s new Alpha platform, which already supports such venerable cars as the Cadillac ATS and CTS. However, GM notes that 70% of the components will be unique to the Camaro, including its exterior dimensions, the suspension geometry, and, naturally, its powertrain components.
8. Fully re-calibrated engine
We decided to save the best for last. Though the engine is still based on the same 6.2-liter unit that has done duty in numerous other GM vehicles, drivers now have more control over its behavior. There will be selectable modes for Snow and Ice, Tour, Sport and, exclusive to the SS, Track. “Each setting optimizes up to eight vehicle attributes — from the throttle progression, steering feel and stability control calibration,” the company says.
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