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A sinewy Camaro, still with muscle car swagger

NYT Syndicate

There's no mistaking the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro because, well, it has a strong resemblance to the departing car. Much like the Olsen twins, though, the two are similar but quite different. If you can discern Mary-Kate from Ashley at first glance, congratulations, you might peg the new Camaro quickly. Or maybe you've just watched too much TV.

But really, the big news about Generation 6 is that under the slightly smaller and sinewy silhouette, the Camaro now shares a platform with the Cadillac ATS, with 70 percent of the architectural components unique to Camaro.

Drawn like Jessica Rabbit, the Chevy's intense American muscle-car lines might cause import worshippers to dismiss it. Pity. It's bad in a good way ” a rear-wheel-drive performance bargain.

General Motors is doing great things with chassis tuning, and the Camaro inherited the compelling goodness of the ATS that makes the car tons of fun to toss into a corner. Even without the available Brembo brakes, the car scrubs off speed securely.

It can't hurt that the V6 models are nearly 300 pounds lighter now. Don't be disappointed to learn that's the model I'm focusing on. Not terribly long ago, V-8s struggled to produce 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. Camaro's 3.6-litre V-6 does it on standard grade gasoline. With a rumble from the exhaust, it'll snap from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.

Need more velocity? By all means move up to the 6.2-litre 8-cylinder with 455 horses. Chevy claims that the base 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder with 275 horsepower does the 0-to-60 dash in just under 6 seconds. Yes, a 4-cylinder.

All engines can be paired to an optional 8-speed automatic or the standard 6-speed manual, which, on the V-8, features Active Rev Matching that"blips" the throttle when downshifting. Drive modes adjust steering weight and transmission mapping. SS V-8 models are available with adaptive magnetic dampers. Good stuff.

More big news? The interior, a reason to avoid the previous generation, is now a Wards Top 10 Interiors recipient. Clever flourishes include air vent trim rings that double as climate control dials. One tip: Don't skip the $2,800 convenience and lighting package that adds configurable gauges, head-up display, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging and accent lighting that transforms the space. At night, the large glowing sills will attract eyes from 20 paces.

The package also includes cross-path detection and blind-spot warning, which is sorely needed. Camaro is a gazelle in motion, but with gun slit glass, its outward visibility is akin to an M1 Abrams tank's. The rear blind spot is the size of Texas.

The Camaro is about 2 inches shorter now, and I'll wager it was taken from the back seat. Generally, I'd trot out the line"for two children only," but even small ones will bemoan the lack of legroom and cup holders. The trunk's narrow opening could keep large suitcases from getting in. Pack light, because four carry-on bags is all you'll shimmy in.

But boy, the Camaro is a joy to drive. It's as compelling as anything from overseas, no"for a Chevy" excuses needed.


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