Charging Forward: Building the Next Camaro

6thgenEd-1Now that it’s 2015, we’re quickly approaching the tenth anniversary of the fifth-generation Camaro as we anxiously await its replacement due out for the 2016 model year. Before you “correct” me by saying that 2010 was actually the first model year, you have to take the 2006 Camaro Concept into consideration. Unveiled at the North American Auto Show in January of that year, or exactly one model year after Ford had put its retro Mustang into production, the 2006 Camaro Concept gave us a possible preview of what could come.

F-body fans were ecstatic, the motoring press went wild, and Ford guys, just getting comfortable with the fact that they no longer had competition from General Motors in terms of an affordable pony car, swallowed a huge gulp of fear down their crooked throats. A few months later, it was announced that the Camaro would indeed go into production. The following Auto Show season brought a more production-ready convertible version donned in orange paint, black stripes, and with much more detailing in its execution. Once again, the crowds went crazy.

Then came three years of seemingly endless preliminary testing from all over the world (mostly in Australia). With each passing day Camaro guys would go crazy over the painstakingly-slow developments, while Firebird/Trans Am fans were keeping their fingers crossed for a Pontiac variant. Obviously, we all now know how the latter would turn out.

Now we’re just mere weeks away from the sixth-generation car’s unveiling, and the cynics are already bemoaning the yet-to-be-announced 2016 Camaro for supposedly looking too much like the current model. But does it really look like the current car or is there something more to the design of its exterior?

Thanks to recent spy photos and videos, renderings from other media outlets, leaked headlights and quarter panels and even a peek of what the car will look like from GM themselves flooding the internet, it’s beginning to appear that the new Camaro’s design will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Sorta’ like the evolution from the C5 to C6 Corvette.


This is one of the test mules used for 2010 Camaro SS development testing. This was near production as all of the camo has been removed by this point.

We can’t say we entirely blame General Motors for this tactic, though; the 5th-gen has been the best-selling Camaro in decades and if you have a proven formula, why change it too much? After all, the 4th-gen car was essentially a 3rd-gen with a massive makeover. Why do you think that most of the suspension carries over from those two generations, for instance?

However, don’t think for a moment that Chevrolet is simply tweaking the body and interior and calling it the sixth-generation Camaro. There’s a lot of promise in the new car; for starters, production is moving BACK into the United States – something that we Americans have been missing since the 1992 model year. The 2016 Camaro will be built in Lansing, Michigan right alongside its Cadillac ATS and CTS cousins.

This was largely done due to the ease of manufacturing, as the new car will now be based on the smaller, lighter and more nimble ATS/CTS Alpha platform – no more Zeta. Word is, you can expect the 2016 Camaro SS to be around 200-lbs. lighter than the 2015 model. Next, the L99 and LS3 are hitting the bricks; the C7’s LT1 will be getting nestled between the fender wells and will be bringing improved efficiency, increased power and performance, and better fuel economy as a result. This is a win-win any way that you look at it. Naturally there will be an entry-level V6 model and the rumored on-again, off-again 4-cylinder turbo car could go into production as well.

Gearboxes? We wouldn’t be shocked if the 6-speed auto and manual transmissions get the boot too; if history has taught us anything, technology tends to trickle down from Corvette and Cadillac to the more mainstream vehicles, such as the Camaro and SS sports sedan. We have a feeling we’ll be testing 8-speed automatic and 7-speed manual Camaros come Fall. An independent rear suspension is a given, so are Brembo brakes at all four corners on performance models starting from the Super Sport on up. Let’s just hope that they’ll ditch the two-piece driveshafts – although that’s just wishful thinking.

Built on the same platform as the small and nimble ATS-V coupe, the Camaro SS will simply fly with its 455 hp LT1.

Built on the same platform as the small and nimble ATS-V coupe, the 2016 Camaro SS will simply fly with its 455 hp LT1.

We are curious to see where they’ll take the interior in terms of design, ergonomics and comfort conveniences. Hopefully they’ll do away with the bunker-like seating/narrow side window arrangement, which was always my personal complaint with the current car. MyLink, OnStar, XM radio, Bluetooth, remote start and every interior gizmo you currently have on your 5th-gen will return, as well as new unannounced technology. A convertible will more than likely go on sale shortly after the coupe is released, and the next ZL1 will probably have the C7Z’s LT4. Hey, if it’s finding its way into the new CTS-V it only makes sense to have a ZL1 with the same engine.

No word yet on if/when the Z/28 will live on into a 6th-generation iteration, but if it does, we would love to see a GEN-V/LT-based 7-liter engine. If the LS7 was good for an [under]rated 505 hp at the crank (closer to 540, really), then a GEN-V based 427 with direct-injection better produce 600 hp naturally aspirated! We won’t settle for anything less.

Keep the price in check, leave out the quirks and ensure that it captures that essence of everything that is Camaro and you just might find yourself a 6th-Gen Camaro owner in your author, General Motors. Don’t let me down!

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