Test Drive: Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

? ? ? ? ? ? Getting the mail at the neighborhood box cluster often elicits comments about the car we are driving.?? We have a few neighbors who know we write about cars, but there are others that probably think we are car dealers (or drug dealers that can afford to buy new cars each week).

The only comment we received on the Inferno Orange Metallic Chevy Camaro SS Convertible was from a four-foot tall boy running by the boxes, when we stopped, ?I like your car.?? We?re sure there were many others peeking through their blinds and drooling. ??

For small boys, or anyone into muscle cars, what?s not to like about this bright orange convertible with black top and the optional black stripe package. ?For those who care, the color scheme was like having the right matching purse and shoes, with the color pattern continued on the inside, too.? In this case, that?s Inferno Orange and black leather seats, with door panels and dash trim in the same color as the outside.? We may not be into flashy muscle cars, but have to admit, this one is a head turner.

Hot rod enthusiasts will be more impressed by the sound, with the deep rumble of the 426-hp, 6.2-liter small block V-8 engine.

Normally the ?convertiblization? of a coupe involves compromises.? There are structural and handling challenges plus a multitude of problems that arise as the conversion progresses.? Then there?s the problem of weight gain, which for this car was253 poundsfor an already hefty car.? However, the extra weight appears to have been put to good use.? The Camaro is almost rock solid, with no noticeable cowl shake, body twist or rattles.? Starting with that solid structure, engineers were then able to develop the drivetrain components to maximize the performance and handling of the car.? And the results are impressive.

The attractive Camaro top is cloth with an acoustical headliner that produces a near coupe-like quiet when in place, but like most convertibles, it creates a large blind spot at both rear quarters (actually the coupe isn?t a lot better).? Rear visibility is best handled by keeping the top down as often as possible, but when the top is in place Chevrolet has thoughtfully provided Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist as standard equipment on all models of the Convertible.? This makes backing up partially blinded a little safer.? We think a backup camera and blind spot indicator system too, would be good additions, but they are not offered.

??????????? ?While on this subject, the other thing not offered is a map-based navigation system.? All Camaros come with standard OnStar with the very efficient Turn-by-Turn navigation (for the first six months); however, we like maps better, than an arrow on the instrument panel and verbal instructions.

Dropping the top is simple ? twist the one center-mounted latch, push and hold the overhead-mounted switch for about 17 seconds, and the top folds in a depression behind the rear seat backs.? The top is available in tan or black cloth.? Once in place, upper level models are outfitted with a one-piece tonneau cover to add a more finished look.? The tonneau is an option on the two base models, but a reliable source said that tonneau installation is challenging.

It would take someone with much better sensitivity than ours to feel much difference between the handling and performance of the Convertible as compared to the coupe.? Both have a solid, almost heavy road feel and stay flat in the corners.? At higher speeds, the cars feel well planted, and when needed the Brembo brakes (standard equipment on the SS) do an excellent job.? The tight 38-foot turning radius is a big plus.

The Camaro Convertible shopping is a 2-2-2-2 process to start– two models in two trim levels, with two engines and two transmission options.?? As the entry-level model, priced at $30,000 including the destination charge, the 1LT is well equipped and powered by a 312-hp V-6 engine with a six-speed manual transmission.? This is serious road, car, not a stripped down model.? It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds, plus the mileage is very good at 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the six-speed automatic.? The 1SS ($37,500)? with its thundering 426-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 is a 4.9 second 0 to 60 mph car with EPA fuel economy of 16/24 mpg.

? Standard performance features on both SS models, includes the Brembo brakes, 20-inch wheels and performance suspension.

Both of the upper level models (the 2LT and 2SS) include goodies like heated leather seats, convenience and connectivity package, a gauge cluster mounted on the console and Bluetooth.?? A fully loaded 2SS tops out at nearly $52,000 when a buyer goes crazy and checks all the option boxes.

Chevrolet is serious about this new Camaro Convertible so they made it good, they made it fast, and it shows.

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