5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Charismatic V8 lump; much-improved transmission; sheer presence
Ride still busy; steering lacks heft; appears expensive compared to Mustang GT
The Wheels Verdict: The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS gets a little more polish, but doesn’t change its fundamentals too markedly. The facelift has improved its liveability, the 10-speed auto is a step on, and the addition of a manual gearbox to the Camaro line-up will have new fans lining up. It’s still hard, fast and angry and worth every brass cent of its eighty-odd grand price sticker.
- Read next: Chevrolet Camaro 2018 review
WHAT IS THE CHEVROLET CAMARO?
We got our first taste of an official right-hook HSV Camaro late last year, and as much as we enjoyed it, our enthusiasm was slightly tempered by the fact that a newer version was on offer in the States. Well, that facelifted car has finally made it across the Pacific and Aussie buyers now have a much harder decision when choosing whether to buy a 5.0-litre Mustang or go large on a 6.2-litre Camaro.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
We were already impressed by HSV’s engineering in the 2018 car and were keen to see how the 2019 Camaro would shape up. Although the engine and suspension have been left largely unchanged, a lot of interior updates, revised styling and a box-fresh 10-speed automatic (with a manual on the way) had us itching to grab the keys.
CHEVROLET CAMARO 2SS REVIEW
You’re joining us here halfway through a series. If you’ve been watching from the start, you can ignore this paragraph. For everybody else, here’s a very quick recap. The Chevrolet Camaro was never sold in right-hand-drive form. Holden sat on its hands for an eternity before HSV decided to pitch its hat into the ring for the car. GM said yes, and Clayton took delivery of a limited run of Argentinian-spec 2018 cars in effect a proof-of-competence exercise to show Detroit that it knows what it’s doing in the conversion from left- to right-hand drive. The big office was clearly impressed with HSV’s handiwork, because as a reward, Australia’s now getting a run of the latest and greatest Camaros. This updated 2019 car has made some significant strides forward.
To whit, there’s now a choice between a 10-speed auto, the guts of which are shared with the Mustang, and a six-speed manual, available from June. The LT1 engine hasn’t really changed, still developing a chunky 339kW/617Nm, but should you hanker after more, a $159,900 supercharged ZL1 is also on offer and that serves up 477kW and 881Nm of good ol’ LT4 aggro. File that under ‘fit for purpose’.
We’re driving the 10-speed automatic today, equipped with launch control and line locker functions, as well as the delightfully self-explanatory Lift-Foot Gear Hold technology. The six-speed manual will also get launch control as well as active rev matching, so that if you can’t manage the perfect heel and toe downshift, you can always fake it.
2019 Chevrolet Camaro: Why it costs $85,990 in Australia
The bad news first. The two most significant dynamic shortcomings of the old car, namely ride quality and steering feel, haven’t been addressed. The ride is still fairly busy on its passive dampers and the steering never quite weights up as you’d like. There’s a curious stiction to the nicely thin-rimmed wheel about the straight ahead which lulls you into thinking that it’ll require some biceps to haul through a tight corner, but as soon as you get a few degrees off-centre, it feels as if you could be steering a Corolla. The steering is accurate and you get used to its quirkiness, but it’s not the most communicative front end. It is endowed with huge lateral grip though, and you soon learn to build your faith, although the mechanical limited-slip differential can nevertheless allow torque to bleed away through an unweighted rear wheel. Odd.
One plus point to riding on steel springs is that you can routinely use the racier Sports and Track modes on Aussie B-roads without the suspension firming up to such a degree that you find yourself switching back to Tour mode. The head-up display that HSV found impossible to convert in the old car makes an appearance in this 2019 vintage, so you can now tell how fast you’re going, and some of the stress is taken out of parking manoeuvres with a better camera system. Forward Collision Alert and an updated infotainment system are welcome additions too. Kids will love the ambient lighting choices, and you can bet your bottom dollar that at some point you’re going to be driving around in this malevolent monster with My Little Pony pink interior lighting.
Read next: 2019 Chevrolet Camaro going manual
The styling updates work a lot better in the metal than they first appeared. We wondered whether the front end was now too fussy, but the dual-element LED headlights and the functional extractor-style hood just give the car more visual menace. The new ‘squircle’ rear lamps and five-spoke 20-inch alloys are also an improvement, as is the fact that these US-market cars now no longer come as standard with a headroom-robbing sunroof as standard, unlike their Argentine predecessors. Brembo brakes, a Bose stereo and Recaro seats point to the fact that Chevrolet hasn’t skimped on quality fitments for the 2SS.
There are some Camaro idiosyncrasies that you need to get used to, like the LHD centre console, with its poorly placed cupholders and illuminated gear selector panel on the wrong side of the selector. Likewise the lack of interior stowage, no standard-fit sat-nav and lazy parking pawl for the auto ’box take a little shine off an otherwise well-finished product. Prices start at $86,990 for a manual model, with the auto version weighing in at $89,190. That’s still $23K more than a Mustang V8, but if you feel the Mustang buzz has palled somewhat, the updated Camaro offers formidable bang for your buck against the best of the rest.
CHEVROLET CAMARO 2SS VS RIVALS
Ford Mustang GT coupe
The Mustang is notably different in feel to the Camaro, offering a softer-edged, more authentically ‘rock-on-the-springs-at-idle’ muscle car feel. The Camaro feels harder, faster and angrier, but the Ford’s easy-going practicality is certainly going to be easier to live with on a daily basis.
CHEVROLET CAMARO 2SS PRICE AND SPECS AUSTRALIA
Model: Chevrolet Camaro 2SS
Engine: 6162cc, V8, ohv, 16v
Max power: 339kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 617Nm @ 4600rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 4.0 sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 11.5L/100km (claimed)
Price: from $86,990
On sale: Now