EDITOR WES RAYNAL: With the new Camaro right around the corner, it’s good to get in this one. Subtle it ain’t. Fire it up and it settles into a beautiful gurgle/idle. Run it up through the gears and it just howls, and there’s a cool pop-pop when you lift. I could sit and listen to this crackling V8 all day long. In fact I’d be happy just sitting and listening to it idle for cryin’ out loud. The sound is outstanding, there is the slightest rough idle and a wee bit of backfiring during shifts.

The 420 lb-ft means I could basically stick it in third or fourth and leave it there for the bulk of my around-town driving. It’s that flexible. That of course makes it easy to drive a manual around town, but this one isn’t bad anyway -- in fact, I found clutch takeup and engagement surprisingly light and direct. The power coming on smoothly through the rev range helps as well.

The car feels a bit heavy, because it is. Nearly 4,000 pounds seems high to me. The engine and eager rock-solid chassis make up for a lot of it, but the overall feel is weighty, particularly going into a corner with a little oomph, where the car will understeer some -- but don’t worry, grip is excellent. The ride is actually quite pleasant (a nice surprise) and the steering isn’t bad, either. It’s predictable, quick and decently weighted. It’s an easy car to drive.

The 2015 styling updates look OK. I really like the refreshed front end but not sure about the new rear taillights. Don’t really care, though. For one thing, I had too much fun in it; and for another, as I said, the new one is imminent.

Last time I was in a 2SS, I bellyached about the interior materials and how they weren’t good enough for an entry-level car, let alone a car costing this much. To that I need to add that I do love these seats.

Nearly 50K isn’t cheap as cars go, but for this kind of oomph I think it’s borderline fair.

The 1LE would definitely be part of my fleet.

ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This is probably the best-looking Camaro on the road. I love the blood-red paint, matte black hood and black wheels. It’s exactly how I’d want mine to look. And those Goodyears are downright slick. Both literally and figuratively.

Inside, it looks a little cheap. I don’t like that big plastic piece on the doors. On that Synergy green one we had, that part was paint matched too, yikes. The stupid sunvisors are teeny and don’t block anything. And don’t even try to flip them to the side, it’s pointless. Anyone who drives northward to leave work knows what I’m talking about.

The rest of the materials aren’t great either, aside from those Recaro seats and suede steering wheel, but again, you don’t pay for interior switchgear in this type of car, you pay for the muscle. And muscle it’s got.

The 1LE package, with the suspension and handling upgrades, makes this car feel 300 pounds lighter than the standard SS. It rides hard. Not race-car hard or Z/28 hard, but hard. The ZL1 is way softer, so if you’re looking for comfort AND power, try that. Dodging potholes will become a daily occurrence, especially with those blacked-out 20-inch wheels and low-pro tires. On the plus side, lift and dive are nearly non-existent, and it seems to corner flat.

That allows all 426 horses to get to the pavement, making it easy to light up the tires at a stop light. Speaking of traction issues, the sport traction control mode gives a really nice amount of slide before cutting the power. Where my Mustang gives about 25 degrees of yaw, this doesn’t cut in until about 50 degrees, which is enough for the driver behind you to think you’re crazy. Unfortunately it was raining when I hit some twisty roads so I couldn’t really go for it, but even on the power in the damp, this car has a lot of stick.

The dual-mode exhaust sounds awesome through tunnels when that V8 is at wide-open throttle. It’s far better than my Mustang, and probably better than the SRT8 Challenger too. But not the Hellcat, the Hellcat sounds sublime.

The steering is a little too light for me, even at slow speeds; same with the clutch pedal. The weight of your foot will push it down, and the catch point is so small, you really need to practice to shift smoothly at normal speeds. Of course, when things get a little quicker it feels fine. I’m sure it’s easier to deal with in traffic too. The brakes are quiet and have a good, progressive feel. I never felt like I might not be able to stop. They have a good amount of travel though, so heel-toeing would take practice.

The best part about the 1LE is that it only costs $3,500 on top of the price of the SS. It is a must-have option if you’re a true enthusiast. The Boss package on the Mustang was more than 10K I think, so I can see that being debatable. This 1LE though? It’s a must-have, it makes the car miles better than a standard SS. Check the box, leave everything else off, ‘cept for maybe those Recaro seats, and you’ll be a happy camper.

Options: SS 1LE performance package including unique rear spoiler, suspension ride and handling package, axle, 3.91 ratio, suede shift knob, six-speed manual transmission, suede steering wheel, Blackwall tires, 20” inch aluminum wheels ($3,500); Recaro performance seats ($1,995); RS package including bodycolor roof ditch molding, HID headlamps with LED halo ring and daytime running lamps ($1,350); power sunroof ($900); dual mode exhaust ($895); performance navigation system ($495); crystal red metallic tintcoat ($395); premium all-weather floor mats ($155); cargo net ($60)

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