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2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6
We shed a little light on the most obvious question surrounding the V6 Camaro. Why would they do that?
By Malcolm Gunn
You might think that the current chapter in the continuing "Ponycar" battle is all about which manufacturer can produce the model with the most earth-shaking power. Not quite.
Sure, there are 400- and 500-horsepower-plus Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros and Dodge Challengers around that will rock your world and loosen your fillings the moment you punch the throttle. However, the real battle is for sales volume and is being fought, for the most part, with lower-priced six-cylinder weaponry, such as the humble-pie V6 Camaro.
General Motors' bowtie division has a bona fide hit on its hands with its newly reconstituted coupe. With stylish good looks and gobs of available V8 power, what's not to like?
Well, there are a couple of issues, actually. First of all, the top-range SS model is currently the only way you can equip your Camaro with Chevrolet's Corvette-sourced 426-horsepower LS3 V8 engine. And selecting that version will set you back at least $38,400, including destination charges. That's at least $10,000 more than a base $28,350 Camaro LS (with the V6). Ten grand will pay for plenty of gas-bar pit stops, groceries, mortgage payments or other necessities.
Also to be considered is that insurance companies tend to sock it to drivers of vehicles such as the SS. Then there's the extra fuel costs (unless you're able to drive the SS as if the gas pedal's on fire) and the added expense of replacing 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires, likely on a more frequent basis with the V8.
The six-cylinder Camaro's chief competitors are the $27,500 Dodge Challenger SE that runs with a 250-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 and the perennial favourite Ford Mustang that rolls in with a $25,950 pricetag.
By playing it frugal and opting for the junior-edition Camaro, you'll be passing up on the SS's extra content and sub-five-second blasts to 100 km/h, but then that's not everyone's cup of chamomile.
The base Camaro's 3.6-litre V6 delivers a gutsy 304 horsepower, which is 104 horses more than the previous-generation base 1993-'02 Camaro and only 21 fewer ponies than the 5.7-litre V8 in that year's SS model. Note however that that the latest V6 Camaro's portly 1,720-kilogram curb weight tops its 2002 ancestor by more than 200 kilograms, yet it can still touch 100 km/h from rest in the not-too-slouchy six-second range.
Interestingly, the Mustang plans to introduce an upgraded base model with a 305-horsepower 3.7-litre V6 for the 2011 model year.
As with the SS, the V6 Camaro comes with a six-speed manual transmission, or optional six-speed automatic with manual gear selection.
Straight-line performance issues aside, the base LS offers a decent level of standard equipment beyond the expected air conditioning and power windows, locks and mirrors. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power-reclining driver's seat and a basic radio with external music source plug-in are also part of this entry unit.
Move up to the 1LT option and the list grows to include foglamps, six-way power driver's chair and 18-inch alloy wheels (18-inch steelies are standard), while the optional 2LT equipment group adds a floor-console-mounted gauge cluster, heated, leather-covered front seats, premium nine-speaker sound system and 19-inch wheels.
The optional RS content grouping has been designed to give the LT Camaro the look of the SS with 20-inch rims, a rear spoiler and unique headlamps and taillights. The RS is a head-turning machine -- as opposed to a tire-turning machine , with great road manners and sporty handling. Aside from some minor interior quibbles over signal-light placement (right behind the upper rim of the steering wheel) and what appears to be haphazard arrangement of the heating and ventilation controls, the only major complaint is a fatigue-inducing interior drone at highway speeds. And, of course, the obvious question, "why would you get a Camaro without a V8?"
The answer is easy. Money. Studiously avoiding the temptation of the option sheet is obviously the best way to avoid bumping into the SS in the price range. In that way, you'll be able to gloat about the savings you've achieved, while still enjoying the relative performance strengths of a strong-running V6 that can at least nip at the heels of its SS stablemate.
Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!
What you should know: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6
Type: Two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe
Engine (hp): 3.6-litre DOHC V6 (304 hp)
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; six-speed automatic with manual shift control (opt.)
Market position: Modestly performing bread-and-butter versions of cars in the Camaro's class provide at least the look of their high-performance counterparts and are important sales volume builders for their respective automakers.
Points: Quick enough, but soggy mid-range power reminds you why there's extra money in your bank account; Less weight in a smaller package would have added sportiness, but the Camaro is built off the rear-drive Pontiac G8 platform; Scattered HVAC controls; 305-horse 2011 Mustang V6 will provide more competition; Base V6 priced right, but adding too many extras can run up the tab close to SS territory.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): 12.3/6.8 (manual transmission).
Base price (incl. destination): $28,350.
Posted January 14, 2010. © CarTest.ca TM