Leading Pack into Summer — Camaro Convertible

Heading into the summer season with the glow of Chevrolet’s participation as the official pace car in the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, the Camaro convertible sails into the hot summer with its top down.

Paying tribute to 100 years of Indy speed car racing, Chevrolet is building 500 special edition replicas of the 2011 pace car. The limited edition color combination is a Summit White exterior accented with orange racing stripes, including unique door graphics.
Our 2011 Camaro convertible tester was a combination of Inferno Orange and black racing stripes. A total of nine exterior colors are available on the new 2011 convertible. It’s a beautiful car — and one that gets noticed.

Chevrolet engineers went to special efforts to get it right on the retractable soft top design construction for the 2011 launch of the new 2+2-seater convertible — and painstaking efforts to build a solid body free from cowl shake. I found the top operation to be easy once I got the hang of twisting and releasing the very firm center-mounted top lever.

A power button performs the retracting operation in about 20 seconds. It’s not necessary to cover the folded top with the tonneau cover because the top looks good down — it’s not a heap of unsightly clutter that needs to be covered up. The Camaro convertible rides just as smoothly as the coupe version based on structural efforts that went into the architecture.
On making sure the there was no body shake at the steering wheel, or around the cabin where passengers typically feel it in convertibles, Chevy reinforced four critical areas: there’s a unique tower-to-tower brace under the hood; the transmission is supported by a reinforcement brace; the front and rear underbodies feature “V” braces; and a tunnel brace is located in the underbody as well.

Just like its rear-wheel-drive coupe sibling, the new-for-2011 convertible version of the Camaro is offered to buyers in a choice selection of two engines and four transmissions. Starting at $30,000, the Camaro convertible is available in LT and LS trims powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 mated to an Aisin six-speed manual transmission.

Chevy’s 3.6L V-6 has power ratings of 312 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque with an EPA-rated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon city and 29 mpg highway. The V-6’s optional six-speed automatic transmission delivers EPA-rated fuel economy returns of 18/29 mpg.

The convertible up-level model is the Camaro SS whose engine is derived from the Corvette. There are two 6.2-liter V-8 engine offerings on the SS. The V-8 convertible equipped with the optional six-speed automatic transmission will deliver 400 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. The automatic SS model features GM’s Active Fuel Management system that shuts down four cylinders during highway cruising in order to save fuel. The automatic V-8 has gas mileage ratings of 16/25 mpg.

Our vehicle was the Tremec six-speed manual, which is the standard transmission on the SS. This engine/transmission coupling is the more aggressive and powerful convertible in the Camaro lineup.

For convertible shoppers seeking Corvette-inspired power, the SS manual V-8 produces 426 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm. And yet with all of this uploaded power under its hood, the manual delivers very close to the same EPA ratings as the automatic with Active Fuel Management. Gas mileage is estimated at 16/24 mpg. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 4-passenger RWD compact convertible
BASE PRICE___________________ $39,650 (as tested: $42,995)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve OHV V-8 w/SFI
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 6.2-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 426 at 5900 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 420 at 4600 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE____________________ 112.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 190.4 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 37.7 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 18.8 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011

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