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First Drive Review: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

by Paul Strauss
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A few months back, I had the opportunity to drive the new 2016 Chevy Camaro SS Coupe, and thought it was spectacular. However, the weather was cold and snowy, with lots of twisty, turny and slippery mountain roads. This time out, I headed to the sunny and warm deserts of Nevada and California for ride in the drop-top Camaro SS, where I had wide open, dry roads so the car could really flex its muscle.

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While I always thought the prior gen Camaro convertible looked great, in all honesty it handled like a boat. It was heavy, soft, and had too much body roll to be fun. That’s definitely not the case with the 2016 model. That’s in large part to GM’s excellent Alpha platform, which offers great stiffness and all but eliminates the heavy feel of Camaros past. Depending on the model you go with, you can expect a weight savings between 223 and 390 pounds from the prior gen models. And while the convertibles are all about 225 pounds more than their coupe equivalents, they still feel light.

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Chevy also knew they were offering a convertible model right from the get-go this time, so they planned for a modular system of chassis stiffeners from the start. The end result is a car that looks amazing with the top down, and rides like a coupe. Combined with the available (and highly recommended) Magnetic Ride Control, its suspension is excellent, dynamically adjusting firmness based on driving conditions. Steering is also top notch, with good weight and not the slightest bit of play.

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On top of extremely good ride dynamics and handling, the Camaro convertible benefits from the same great drivetrains available in the coupe models. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter turbo 4 that produces 275hp (and was shockingly good in the coupe I tested it in), a 335hp, 3.5-liter V6, and the ginormous 6.2-liter V8 that was burbling beneath the hood of my SS tester. That bad boy pushes out 455 horses, 455 lb-ft. of torque, and an immensely satisfying exhaust note, made even better with the top down.

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Shifting via the 8-speed automatic is fast, sharp and precise, and made more fun via the standard paddle shifters. There’s also a 6-speed manual with a great rev-matching downshift feature that made me look way better at shifting than I really am.

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With the top down, windows up, and the wind screen in place, turbulence is well controlled, and I was even able to have a conversation with my driving partner at highway speeds. With the top up, the interior is pleasantly quiet and well insulated from exterior noise and climate.

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The convertible looks great too, especially with the premium brown leather interior and matching roof shown here. The roof itself is also improved. It stows neatly under a hard tonneau cover, and has the ability to be raised or lowered while driving at speeds up to 30mph.

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You can also remotely open the top using the key fob – a handy feature if you want to have your car ready for fun in the sun as soon as you get out the door.

If there’s any downside to the convertible at all its some loss of visibility in the B-pillar area when the top is up, as well as reduced trunk space compared to the coupe. On the plus side, there’s infinite visibility when the top is down. Otherwise, it’s really a whole lot like the already excellent Camaro coupe, but with the added bonus of an everyday suntan and a cool breeze through your hair.

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