5/30/2009 | 4 MINUTE READ

Considering The 2010 Camaro

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Who says heritage-evoking cars have to resemble something on display at the Henry Ford Museum?


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Although the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is an American pony car par-excellence, what is interesting to note is that it is based on a rear-drive platform that was engineered in Australia and is being manufactured at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. And although it was styled in Warren, Michigan, Tom Peters, who headed up the design team, and who describes the car as "a thoroughly American statement," said that designers from Russia, Korea, and Brazil participated on the project. Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, described the '10 Camaro as "the redefinition of the classic American sports car."
All of which goes to show you that America truly is the proverbial melting pot, and this is reflected in the sheet metal that is the Camaro.
Gene Stefanyshyn is the GM Vehicle Line Executive in charge of performance cars. He is based in Australia. And, yes, the Camaro was under his watch. The basis of the '10 Camaro is the Holden Commodore. A sedan. The Camaro is a coupe. Which is just one of the changes made to create the car. For example, in order to get the proportions of the car right, they had to move the front and rear wheels so that they'd be positioned with little overhang. (The overall length of the car is 190.4 in.; the wheelbase is 112.3 in. So whether the vehicle is equipped with 18s, 19s, or 20s, the wheels are planted at the extremes.)
Why, you may wonder, was a significant amount of engineering performed in Australia for an American muscle car? Simple. Stefanyshyn noted that there were engineering resources available there to work on the platform that had been developed there.
In addition to doing things like moving the dash panel forward by 3 in. (after all, as a coupe, there's a whole lot more potential real estate to play with when you're not considering truly seating five [yes, there is a backseat in the Camaro, and while there is ostensible seating for two, a few numbers will tell you why there isn't anyone over the age of 10 whom you care for that you will put back there: the legroom in the front is 42.4 in. and the legroom in the rear is 29.9 in.; the shoulder room in the front is 56.9 in. and the shoulder room in the rear is 42.5 in.), Stefanyshyn said that they had to set the car up to accommodate "four powertrain cubes." By which he means the assorted engine/transmission combinations. There is the 3.6-liter V6 for the LS and LT trim levels. It produces 304 hp @ 6,400 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm. It is available with a Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic or an Aisin AY6 six-speed manual.
Then it gets slightly tricky in terms of how you count. Which brings us to the 2008 Corvette (interesting side note: the sixth-generation Corvette, which includes the '08 model, was designed by Tom Peters). A new engine, the LS3, was made available for that car. It is a small-block V8 (aluminum block with cast-iron liners; aluminum heads). So in keeping with the sports car DNA, the Camaro is offered with its own variant of the LS3. They are both 6.2-liter engines. One is designated the LS3 and the other the L99. Both have an aluminum block and heads; both have a roller lifter-style camshaft (which, incidentally, has a 5% greater intake side valve lift than the Corvette's LS3). There is a new structural cast aluminum oil pan. The L99 produces 400 hp @ 5,900 rpm and 410 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm. The LS3 produces 426 hp @ 5,900 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm. (The one in the Corvette, incidentally, with the standard exhaust system, produces 430 hp @ 5,900 rpm and 424 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm.) The difference between the two Camaro variants is a lower compression ratio on the L99 and the way the Active Fuel Management System is setup-yes, the Camaro offers cylinder deactivation such that it can run on four cylinders when cruising along.
The L99 is available exclusively with the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic; it is the highest-capacity automatic on any GM passenger car. The LS3 is mated to a Tremec TR 6060 six-speed manual.
There are two suspension packages available. And speaking of the suspension: it is fully independent, front and rear, in keeping with the goal of producing a 21st-century sports car, not something from its heyday.
Speaking of contemporary relevance, Troy Clarke said that one of his charges to the development team was: "Your job is to convince my 25-year-old daughter she wants one." Assuming his daughter was born in 1984, that year the third-generation Camaro was available (it was launched in '82). She probably wouldn't have wanted one of those. But this one-that's something else entirely. (Between gen 4 and this one, gen 5, there were seven years of no Camaro.)
And speaking of relevance, once again: While the 2010 is by no means an economy car, it should be noted that even with a 6.2-liter engine and a manual trans the estimated EPA numbers are 16 city/24 highway-even with all that muscle.