Chevrolet Camaro

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Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Road Test

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible driven

Driven March 2012

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If our understanding of engineering is anything to go by, removing a car's roof tends to make the driving experience a bit... fluctuant. Especially if it's enormous and American. But the new Euro-spec rag-top Camaro's confounded us - it handles beautifully.

Which is probably because it's not a dollar-driven afterthought. The convertible was designed alongside the tin-top, so a lot of the bracing's been massaged into the shell, not bolted on later - that keeps weight down, closing the dynamic gap between the 'vert and coupe. But at 1,920kg (125kg more than the fixed head) it's still very ponderous.

Wrestling the mass are two engines, both 6.2-litre V8s. There's a 432bhp LS3 that comes with a six-speed manual 'box and a 405bhp L99 with a six-speed auto.

They're quick enough, but both struggle to feel as fun as the numbers suggest. They're thirsty, too - despite the L99's Active Fuel Management system (it shuts down four of the eight cylinders during light loads), it only manages 22mpg. They make a pretty noise, though, which you get a lot more of in the scalped version.

So far, so muscle car. But it gets interesting underneath - instead of a leaf sprung/live axle rear end, there's an independent set-up with Euro-only stiffened dampers and a pair of repositioned and reshaped anti-roll bars. Which means it does the unthinkable - it corners. Like a proper sports car.

It's not exactly unruffled, but body roll's minimal and it's GT-like in its compliance on the open road.

There is, however, a problem. The auto costs £41,495 (manual is £39,999), which seems offensively pricey for something that trades on affordable fun. It gets worse when you notice the wobbly seat stitching and frail trim - something not endemic of other Euro GM cars. Then there's the inconvenience of left-hand-drive, cramped rear legroom, dim fuel economy...

But, let's face it, buying a muscle car in the UK transcends judgement - it's all about visual pheromones and cultural connotations. And, of the current over-priced, under-built crop available in the UK, at least it handles.

Matt Jones

The numbers
6162cc, V8, RWD, 432bhp, 420lb ft, 22.0mpg, 304g/km CO2, 0-62 in 5.2secs, 155mph, 1920kg

The verdict
Brilliant-handling muscle car, but surprisingly expensive and terrifyingly heavy. Too easy to resist

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