It took what felt like forever, but Chevrolet finally brings the Camaro to Australia. Now that HSV doesn’t make their own vehicles anymore, they have taken it upon themselves to import the best of what their mother company General Motors offers over in the United States. When it comes to V8 supercars there are few that can match the Chevrolet Camaro. After 100 man hours and changing over 350 parts the left-hand drive beast is converted and ready for the roads Down Under.
No matter which colour you pick for the Chevrolet Camaro, its got to be bright. It’s sharp, aggressive lines show best when accentuated by an eye catching paint job. But even if you don’t see the Camaro you will hear it; its roaring V8 thundering down the road. With only 550 in the first batch coming to Australia exclusivity is guaranteed, which makes the Camaro even more of a head turner. It’s low, lean profile emphasized by its 20-inch wheels fitted with fat tyres, especially at the rear. They’re necessary to keep the Camaro planted when giving it a firm push, which is something you definitely be wanting to do when you get behind the wheel.
What is there to be expected from a 6.2L V8 that produces 339kW of power and 617Nm of torque when mated with an 8-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission? Exactly, nothing but fun. Behind the wheel of the Camaro you will have a smile from ear to ear the whole time, as will your passenger. Which you will have, because everybody will be asking you for a ride. That’s not a problem though, because whether you take the Camaro for a cruise down the highway, a slow run through the city or for a run up the mountain it will always entertain you. Down the straight you can feel its torque and perfect balance, at slow speeds see the heads turning while the exhaust gurgles and pops and around the twisties experiences its superb handling and stiff suspension.
The Camaro will launch you to 100km/h in the mid-4 seconds range, which is really, really fast. Though the automatic does a very good job and you have the option to use the paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel, a real purist would like to have a manual. Unfortunately that’s not available. Though the steering is a bit heavy at low speeds, there is nothing else we would change on the driving characteristics of the Camaro. Even its fuel economy isn’t even that bad (for an engine that size) at 11.5L/100km, partly because if its AFM (Active Fuel Management) which idles four cylinders when not necessary.
Unless you’re a jet fighter pilot, the driver seat of the Camaro is the closest you’ll get to experiencing what its like to be in a cockpit. Literally everything is focussed around the driver, though the infotainment screen is slightly tilted towards the passenger. It’s one of the few remnants of a near-perfect conversion from left-hand to right-hand drive car. HSV has made sure there is enough space in the foot well, all the buttons are ergonomically placed and no effort has been spared when it comes to the finish. No wonder it costed more than $10 million in research and development, with just the tooling of the new dashboard alone already costing more than $1 million.
The result is a cabin which is a very pleasant place to be, with leather trim, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated sports bucket seats, nine-speaker Bose audio, a choice of 24 interior lighting colour, wireless phone charging, a 7.0-inch touchscreen and a powered sunroof. The toggle for the four different drive modes (Tour, Sport, Track, Snow/Ice) is right in the centre and easily accessible. There might be little storage (a small door pocket and two cup holders that intervene with your mid-arm rest), but you can use the backseat as nobody will ever sit there anyway. The trunk is the same story, but it offers enough storage for some small bags when going for a weekend away.
The main downside of the sleek lines and cockpit like feeling of the Camaro is the visibility, which is very limited. You’re immersed in a cocoon with limited glass area, making the view alongside and behind the Camaro more of a guess than a certainty. You do get seven airbags, blind-spot monitoring and a rear-view camera, but that’s about it when it comes to safety features. This earns the Camaro a 4-Star ANCAP rating, but otherwise you’re pretty much on your own. Your best bet is to stay ahead of everybody else, which isn’t much of an issue in the Camaro anyway. Or trust the fact that other road users will notice your bright, loud sports car – also pretty much a certainty.
The Chevrolet Camaro comes in one trim level, with one engine and transmission and doesn’t have any possible accessories. There isn’t even an option for premium paintwork, but you do have the choice between 9 different colours. That’s about it; pick your colour and you’re done. Now please pay the $85,990 plus on road costs. We’ve got to admit, this isn’t cheap and about $20,000 more expensive than its main competitor: the Ford Mustang GT.
On the other hand you cannot compare the two, though most people will. The Mustang comes in many different forms, has been available in Australia for a while and is specifically produced for the right-hand drive market. On the other hand it’s the first time you can get a factory-converted Camaro in Australia, there are only 550 available in the first batch and its exclusivity cannot be understated.
The Chevrolet Camaro is an angry beast that won’t be tamed, but you nonetheless will keep on trying. Just because its so much fun. The drive is raw, sharp and to-the-point, yet at the same time comfortable because of the quality finish of the interior. What the Camaro lacks in options it makes up for in driving ability and that’s exactly why you would buy it. Not for the logical or practical, but for the emotional and guttural. Disregard the price tag and limited visibility, because when you’re in the driver seat all you can think about the driving experiences and what the road in front of you has to offer. The Chevrolet Camaro comes standard with 3 year/100,000 kilometre warranty and complimentary roadside assistance.