Thursday, August 4, 2011

Camaro Convertible gives you all you desire

This review originally appeared in the July edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California -- Some say you haven’t really driven a Chevrolet Camaro until you’ve driven the convertible version.

Hogwash! You take your horsepower and pony car panache where you can get it these days, and I had no reservations about putting the 2011 Camaro Convertible 1LT through its paces, having tested the 2LT coupe version not all that long ago.

The difference: The convertible is breezier with the top down.

I’m serious. Otherwise, both Camaros give you the usual mix of gut-satisfying performance/handling, sexy styling and impressive interior amenities. I think the best praise for the latest generation of the Camaro is that, even after being on the market for some time now, people still walk up and exclaim, “Hey, that’s a Camaro!”

Yes it is, and a frisky one at that.

All Camaro LT models come with a 3.6-liter V-6 putting out 312 horsepower, yet gas mileage is a fairly respectable 17 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Accelerations off the line are brisk affairs, pressing you into the seat and allowing you to enjoy a satisfying growl from the power plant.

It’s a pretty good blast for a starting price just south of $30,000.

The suspension is appropriately stiff, but not overly so, for a convertible, and you feel totally secure wheeling this droptop around in heavy traffic. Careful sculpting directs headwinds mostly around the driver, and getting the top down does not require an engineering degree.

The layout of interior controls is easy to see and use, and wind buffeting with the top down is slight enough to enable you to hear the radio without dialing up the volume level to eardrum-bursting levels. All in all, this car looks and feels good cruising the boulevard, and you have the spirit-boosting knowledge that you didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy this car new.

True, this is not the SS version of the Camaro Convertible. That hardware with a 6.2-liter, 426-horsepower V-8 is going to run you closer to $40,000. During my recent visit to the centennial Indianapolis 500, I got within sweating distance of the special-edition Camaro SS Convertible that would pace the race. No dice getting behind the wheel. A.J. Foyt already had the ride locked up.

No big deal, you can get some of the thrill Foyt felt on Indy 500 race day with the 1LT droptop. It has enough in it to propel your fantasies.

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