May 28, 2015
The fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro was huge for GM, it was the first time that Chevy ever outsold Ford in the mid-range muscle car category. This was even after Ford had regained prominence themselves with the nameless marketing campaign. For those who have a life, the nameless campaign I am referring to was a series of innovative commercials that reinvented the Ford Brand. The campaign only spouted of facts and showed the cars without any badges, so no brand bias could subconsciously sully the car before giving it a proper once over. When people liked the car they looked it up and found out that they were Fords who at the time had a bit of a negative reputation. The campaign was wildly successful, and for the next few years their car sales were skyrocketing. Truck sales never had a problem they sell themselves, but he 4th generation Mustang was considered a bad car. The bad taste of poor quality left in drivers mouth was just enough for the Chevrolet Camaro to beat out its long lasting rival the Mustang. In honor of the 6th generation unveiling, I went out to drive the 2015 2SS despite not being a huge fan. Not that I don’t like them, I tend to lean team Camaro before Mustang (but not before Challenger). Though only because they are usually more aesthetically pleasing to me, but you have to respect the primogeniture pony. They invented the market when they came out, revamped the muscle car, and are not hideous (well the 3rd generation was). The Camaro has historically been an afterthought for most people, as it is not quite as iconic as the Mustang and typically unveiled after the new generation Mustang is. I liked the 5th generation styling of both cars immediately, but as soon as the 2009 Camaro premiered it trumped its rival in the artistic department. Normally I am not a fan of the harsh angles design, I tend to lean Ferrari before Lamborghini. However, a design that could liberally be described as a less precise Lamborghini with more bulk (if you squint… maybe), fine by me for under 30K. Granted at the time if I got a Camaro for free I would have immediately drove it to the Audi dealer, and tried to trade it for the all new mascara light (LEDs outlining the headlights) sporting A4. When told that it wasn’t enough I would have gone out and sold it for a used S2000, because that was more my speed. At the time the only thing I thought it had going for it was the appearance, but after driving it I know better. The first thing that stands out to me when pulling up to Mac Haik Chevrolet is those mutated rear lights on the 2SS waiting for me outside of the front entrance. I had called ahead to let them know I was testing the Camaro that day. I had intended to test the V6, but in my haste to get there before they closed just responded, “yea whatever” when asked if I wanted to test the 2SS. I wasn’t really thinking, just speeding through traffic so the people waiting for me would not hate me. But then I get there and I see it, it is very nice, some might even say beautiful. A metallic gun metal Gray with black stripes, premium rims, and a great hood slope with faux plastic vents, too ostentatious for my taste, but gorgeous none the less. The dealer promptly and politely takes my information to get me out on the road. His partner was going around to get the keys so by the time I was registered I made a b-line for the car. By now, walking across the Chevrolet dealership, I was excited, it might be one of the last opportunities to drive a momentous Mustang murdering Camaro. When getting inside the 2SS, what is most surprising is how comfortable it is (assuming you have already seen the space age center console). The Premium leather steering wheel is so smooth on the hands, but that is completely out-shined when you push the start button. My door was still open at the time, so I clearly heard the V8 growl to life. Once the door was shut the engine vanished, no sound in idle. In fact, it wasn’t until one dropped the hammer that you remember the monster under the hood. Now had to get comfortable (or rather situated, comfort is unavoidable) and as usual, I immediately looked for the Auxiliary cord jack. The location could be more inconvenient, but the middle storage console where the Aux jack is housed does close on top of the wire. Now that my music is playing I try to edit the sound settings, this proved less intuitive than I expected. Not to mention the touch screen was very touchy, I was thrown for a loop. But once I figured it out the sound quality was excellent. I set off and saw the holographic speedo start up, I am a huge fan, especially since it included directional signals. The dealer told me they actually come standard in all 2015 Camaros. When I set off, the 1st gear felt very gentle, as most cars, I’ve come to realize do (the Jetta apparently has a freakishly strong first gear). The dealer rode with me, and went out of his way to make me feel comfortable, egging me on to really test the car. So when we reached a stop I accelerated more like I would in my car. This time I underestimated the pick up and had to tip toe the line between quick acceleration and leaving my tires at the intersection. Then 2nd and 3rd gear came into the equation and the mid-range power ripped me forward. By now I was getting on to I-10 in the Chevrolet Camaro, I beat the person well ahead of me to the last left lane and had to hit the brakes when he jumped in front of me. Initially I thought “ugh... what are you doing in the fast lane” but I looked down ever so slightly to the windscreen speedo and realized I was slowing to 85 in fifth. The dealer just laughed, “it sneaks up there doesn’t it.” There was a bit of congestion ahead, but it was hiding on the other side of a rise in road altitude, so I had to press the brakes rather forcefully upon seeing it. The brakes were incredibly strong, but the deceleration was as smooth as its steering wheel, not a single uncomfortable jerk. And that is the most impressive and surprising part, it didn’t feel like a twitchy sports car. It was smooth like V8 luxury car, and it wasn’t just the V8 the 2012 V6 I drove was the same way. After getting back to the dealer I took a look around the parked Chevrolet Camaro, more than anything checking storage and space. The door storage can maybe hold a few envelops, but it isn’t great. The cupholders are small and impossible to use if shifting gears. However, the rear legroom was surprisingly spacious and the glove compartment was as well. The trunk wasn't like an El Camino or anything, but still impressively roomy I could squeeze in golf clubs and a small caddy. Though spare access is poor if it even if has one, which I’m not sure if it did or not (I lost patience trying to access it) as the spare doesn’t come standard and not at all if it has Brembos. All in all the 2SS is a fantastic car. The visibility and space issues were grossly exaggerated, and the smoothness and comfort were vastly understated. To be honest, it isn’t last on my list of potential buys, but just because the Chevrolet Camaro beats the Mustang doesn’t mean that it automatically becomes my style. I would definitely buy a decked A5 or S4 before the 2SS, but if I was gifted one… I might not be able to part with it.