Date: 5/20/2008 Camaro Summit #2 feedback
OK, ...here it is.
Sorry for the delay, ...but I needed to get "The Father's Blessing" so to speak
before I posted. It's LONG, ...but I tried as best I could to provide as much information within the constraints of what we're allowed to say…
This is a long read but I wanted to include as much as I could to describe the experience of being at the Milford proving grounds attending the Camaro Summit 2. I’ll talk about the people and then, with as much detail as permitted, I’ll describe my personal impression of the new Camaro.
Let me start by saying, …THANK YOU! to Chevrolet, …for an incredible experience, …and an opportunity of a lifetime. I consider myself extremely blessed to be part of these Camaro Summits.
Words alone can not express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the people of General Motors who are involved with Camaro. I am beyond impressed when I find they are as passionate as any crazed enthusiast, yet also very aware that it needs to be more than just another muscle car. Their expertise with the level of technology and commitment to get it right, is impressive to say the least. To see that safety and quality were at the top of every aspect of the design (to details I couldn’t even imagine) was not only mind boggling, but clear evidence they are building a car targeted as best in class. Their focus on fuel economy clearly has NOT taken a back seat either. What is simply amazing is that they have managed to come up with a Camaro that can be the muscle car of the 21st century, yet also a fuel efficient daily driver for those that want to get around in style. A daunting task to say the least, …to satisfy the hardcore enthusiasts who want to be the first one down that ¼ mile, or the quickest around those apexes, …yet also offer a Camaro that will have fuel efficiency necessary in today’s economy. I must say, …they’ve built an incredible Camaro.
I will add, …this has been one amazing educational experiences for me as well. To see what goes into building a car, …safety, managing costs, weight considerations, engineering and quality considerations, …and not even getting into all the marketing studies they do. Trust me, …they have done a LOT of other focus group work, don’t think for a minute they are just talking to “enthusiasts”, …they DO get it. They also know they can’t satisfy everyone, it’s simply not possible. I would say though, if you have 10 things on your ‘Must have list’? …I feel pretty confident, …you’ll get 8-10 of them.
One of the things that really struck me was how all the designers and engineers talk about Camaro, …in many ways, they don’t look at it as a car. It has a personality, almost as if it’s alive. To hear them say (literally in their own words) “…it’s like raising a child”, the way they look at it, how they describe it, it really impresses upon you how deeply connected they are with this car. As if their own, it’s pretty obvious they’ve accepted the responsibility for raising it to a new level in today’s world, and I think they have every reason to feel the pride they show for bringing such an incredible Camaro back to the streets.
Now, …my impressions on the car. Obviously I can not reveal specific detail, …but I’ll do the best I can to describe what we experienced. Let’s face it, the Concept Camaro was a huge hit. Yes, some will say it’s too retro, others say it’s not retro enough, some don’t like it, but most absolutely love it. None-the-less the new Camaro has styling that clearly has gotten attention, …and GM knows it. With that said, …as we walked around the black curtain to see four new Camaros sitting there, …they were unquestionably true to form with the concept.
I stood there, amazed to begin with that we were there, …but it struck me, Camaro is back! …and there are four of them right here in front of me. As I noted the colors (red, silver, black and another), I began to see the cars were in various trim that one would find typical of Camaro. In many ways I felt a sense of relief, …since right in front of me was proof positive that GM has been listening, …and they are fully intent on getting this car right. There are noticeable differences with the packages we saw (ie. V6’s vs. V8’s), …a couple areas I thought could have been enhanced, …but overall, you could clearly tell them apart. Let me just say, the black one sat there looking like a panther ready to chase down anything that tried to run from it, …I was very impressed. Some other things were done that honestly I didn’t think would make it, …but I was very pleased to see the offering (as I know others will too). Admittedly, there were details I (and I know others) had hoped for that I did not see. Yet I believe they have this covered, …so I am not overly concerned. As for wheels that we saw (and we didn’t see all of them ; ), …one set was a huge hit with everyone, …very cool. Headlamps, …yes we saw the real ones, …you will not be disappointed, trust me on this : ).
The interior, …I am 6’ 1”, …and there was PLENTY of leg room. I actually had to move the seat forward to comfortably push the clutch in. Headroom was fine too, …as you move the seat back, …it seems to go lower a bit. With a helmet, it could be close. The back seat, …let’s face it, it’s fine for kids or car seats, …but not for someone 6’ tall. The seats were very supportive, …true to the concept style, …but much much better looking in my opinion. The overall layout of the dash, location of controls, shifter, etc. was fine. The console gauges were much improved over the concept, more visible than I thought they would be, very nicely done. The dash gauges were better than the concept, …and the lighting was very nicely done as well. There were a couple interior features that I would have liked to see differently. In all honestly one of them is ‘high’ on my list. Interestingly enough, …I was alone on this, …most others were fine with it. Again, …not a show stopper, …and surely not enough to take away from what I thought was an excellent interior design. The B-pillar, …yes it’s there. Sitting in the back seat you see it, …but interestingly from outside the window hides it. Hidden so well, …that I can’t recall anyone mentioning it. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they incorporated this. What was a concern for me, …is no longer. Around back, ..the trunk, …it’s surprisingly huge with plenty of space and easy access, no problems there at all. Up front, under the hood, …very clean (think concept) and I was surprised at some of the things they have planned with regard to the look of things.
OK, …drivetrains. Without detail (which I can not get into), ...I think they did an excellent job of covering the bases. From a base V6 to an upfitted V8, …whether fuel economy or horsepower (or even both) is on your mind, …you will not be disappointed one bit. As for transmission choices and engine combinations, …I think everyone will be very pleased (except the competition of course : ).
Before I get into driving impressions, …let me close the above with what the engineers continually reminded us. The cars we looked at were still being refined and fine tuned. They sure looked like finished cars to me, …fit and finish was exceptional. I can only imagine the level of quality that the final production cars will get.
The chance to drive…
First we drove the (auto trans, V8) ‘mules’ (the black cars that literally had white paint applied with a roller). These cars have been used, and tested in all kinds of ways, …so I wasn’t expecting much. To my surprise, …the car was very quiet, …not a rattle to be heard, …I was actually shocked considering the abuse they’ve gone through. The suspension was firm and predictable, …but not harsh at all. I was very impressed with how it handled, …and then I was told it was only 65% final in that car. That being the case, …it’s going to make our 4th gens look bad. The car did not feel too big, or too heavy, it tracked well, it accelerated fine, and the exhaust tone was perfect, …overall very impressive. I’ll interject here, that the engineers did ‘put them through the test’ so to speak. A controlled high speed turn, …and some (quick) straight line romps, …it sounded great and did the job quite well in my opinion. Visibility out the windshield was fine. I recall some saying there was issue with the A-pillar (ie. airbag) but I did not find that a problem at all. Door mirrors were the right size (and body color too), and when you look around, visibility was unobstructed. Overall feel of the car was excellent.
Next was a drive in the V6 car (fitted with a manual trans). I did not personally drive it, but observed and talked with almost all the others that did. The performance of this car was a huge surprise to all, …especially given the fuel efficiency capabilities (which is another success story in itself). I can say this, …it would give our 4th Gen SS’s a run for their money, …it surely surprised the heck out of us. Just to note, …the exhaust on the V6 cars was not the real exhaust,…they made it a point to tell us that.
What we did not drive was a manual trans V8 car. Based on the V6 that was driven and ‘some numbers we were shown’, …I don’t think we have anything to worry about… ; ).
As we’ve heard before, …”…the future indeed looks very bright.”