Breaking news? Well, sort of. Chevrolet is all but formally confirming what most everyone had already expected: it will be adding a ragtop version of the new, sixth-generation Camaro.
“One of these days, we may add this beautiful looking convertible,” Al Oppenheiser said, referring to the concept Camaro al fresco that was unveiled last June.
Oppenheiser was one of several senior General Motors executives on hand for a dinner kicking off the unusual launch of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, about 50 automotive journalists heading out on a cross-country tour that is expected to collectively clock about 160,000 miles.
This reporter will be one of the reporters making part of the journey, a stretch running from Los Angeles to San Francisco, early next month.
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Chevy has been trying to find alternative ways to show off the new Camaro, in keeping with the brand’s “Find New Roads” marketing theme. Instead of going the traditional auto show route, the maker pulled the covers off the coupe version during a special preview on Detroit’s Belle Isle last spring. That included a rally by fans who brought scores of their own, older Camaros out for a day.
It also gave a handful of journalists the chance to get a quick spin inside the 2016 Camaro V-6 model on the track that was set up at the island park for the annual Detroit Grand Prix.
But the upcoming event will give journalists far more time behind the wheel than normal. The event will be broken into a series of several-day drives eventually passing through 48 states and involving rallies in 15 cities across the U.S.
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As for the convertible, Chevy revealed a concept version late in June, offering a few tantalizing hints of what it will bring to market, almost certainly within the next year.
No surprise, the cabriolet retains most of the distinctive lines that earned the Camaro Coupe rave reviews when it debuted two months ago. The new softtop is no longer the classic Rube Goldberg affair, meanwhile, but the same sort of slick origami that we find on most modern European convertibles, allowing a motorist to drop the top at speeds up to 30 mph – or operate it remotely from the keyfob.
And, as with the Camaro Coupe, the new convertible is lighter and more aerodynamic, Chevy suggesting it has cut mass by about 200 pounds while still delivering a stiffer body structure.
“From the beginning, the Camaro’s architecture was developed to incorporate a convertible with uncompromised driving dynamics,” Camaro chief engineer Oppenheiser said during that June event. “Customers will appreciate what they don’t feel: quivers, cowl shake or an under-damped chassis typically found in a four-seat convertible.”
Like the 2016 Camaro Coupe, the convertible will share the same basic platform as the well-reviewed Cadillac ATS sedan and coupe models. At 188.3 inches, the coupe is about two inches shorter than the old Camaro, its 110.7-inch wheelbase shrinking by 1.6 inches. We’ll have to wait to see if there are any significant changes to those numbers with the ragtop Camaro.
Both coupe and convertible shed about 200 pounds of weight for comparable models, in part, due to the increased use of aluminum for such parts as the hood and windshield frame.
The Camaro Convertible also makes use of the same powertrain lineup as the Coupe, with the nameplate’s first turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as well as a 3.6-liter V6, and a 6.2-liter V8 with six-speed manuals or eight-speed automatic transmissions spanning the lineup.
Chevy has had a solid hit since returning the Camaro nameplate to production in 2009. It has topped the rival Ford Mustang almost consistently since then, though the Camaro has lost momentum as the old gen-five has reached the end of its lifecycle while Ford is pushing the redesigned 50th anniversary Mustang.
The convertible should help revive Camaro’s appeal. And the ragtop itself could be a big plus. While Ford improved the droptop version of the new Mustang, there’s still a lever that must be released before it can fold out of sight. And you can’t remotely open up the Mustang’s softtop. The Camaro, however, automatically deploys a hard tonneau when the operation is complete, giving the vehicle a more refined look.
Expect to see the new Chevrolet Camaro Convertible reach showrooms in time for open-top weather next year, sources promises.
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Tags: auto news, camaro convertible, car news, chevrolet camaro convertible, chevrolet news, chevy camaro, chevy convertible, gm news, mustang convertible, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau