Tuesday, 25 March 2014

SMMT Test Day 2013 - Chevrolet Camaro

Here's a little something for those of an American disposition. You may recognise this car as 'Bumblebee' from the Transformers movie franchise. And you'd be right to as well, because the Chevrolet Camaro was that very car. Big, yellow, and with black stripes, you can see how it came to be known by that name. And with the V8 under the bonnet it packs quite a sting too. We got to have a short blast in the Camaro, so here's some preliminary thoughts.

The first observation is just how big this car is. Well, mostly the width. It's far too wide for our roads, especially some of the narrow country roads our test route took us down. And because you're sitting on the wrong side (it is American, after all) you'll soon find yourself having some rather near misses. And that's not much fun at all.

Then there's the engine. It sounds fantastic- make no mistake about that- but it doesn't rev nicely. It likes to burble around but if you try to work this engine you won't get much joy. It just feels primitive, and not in touch with some of the finely balanced machinery you can buy today. Although the engine has nothing on the part that transfers the power to the road. The gearbox is shocking. A 6-speed manual, it feels like it's come from a tractor. You need two hands to change gear, and if the passenger can help that's a bonus. And it just doesn't zip between the ratios as the modern sports car does. It feels clunky, and rather rotten.

It's a crying shame, because I wanted the Camaro to be brilliant, but it just felt like a disappointment. They often say you shouldn't meet your heroes for the fear of being let down, and so if I were you I'd recommend remembering the Camaro as 'Bumblebee', and avoiding the temptation to actually buy one. Then again, with Chevrolet planning its exit strategy from the UK, that won't be too hard.

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