We have a certain expectation that a sports car will not only be great in the straight line, but at carving corners and braking, as well. Indeed, the decade-old mantra that American muscle cars were only good at going fast in a straight line no longer applies, especially in leu of new-found competition from Korea (Hyundai Genesis Coupe) and Japan (Nissan Z, Toyota FT-86). So you could imagine our surprise when, upon sitting down with a crisp issue of Car and Driver (October 2011), we found the Chevy Camaro to be excluded from the publication’s Best Handling Car Under $40,000 shootout. Oh no they didn’t. Oh but they did.
C&D’s feature opens with the following: “Handling, in the simplest terms, can be defined as how a car responds to driver inputs and how it communicates feedback. Are the responses and feedback smooth? Does it approach those limits gradually?”
So even with the new FE4 suspension setup on the 2012 Camaro SS, the folks at C&D didn’t deem the bow tie-wielding pony car worthy of competing with the best-handling vehicles on the planet… which include the Ford Mustang GT (yupp), Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mini John Cooper Works, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR, Nissan 370Z, and Volkswagen GTI. All of these vehicles “have impressed [C&D] with their dynamic competence.” The BMW 3-Series was left out because the new model is right around the corner… which doesn’t really sit well by us, but we’ll let it slide.
At the end of the day, one of the world’s most respected automotive publications ruled out the Camaro — a car that’s a lot more modern than the Ford Mustang (which ended up taking third place in the comparo, by the way), even though the Zeta-based muscle car tips the scales on the heavy end of the spectrum. And that may just be the reason for its exclusion.
Too bad, since we recently took a 2011 Camaro and carved some corners in the Colorado Rockies in it. And here’s what we had to say about it in the end.