If you asked my passenger, the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is a terrible car. The seats don’t recline much, the ride’s bumpy, and there’s no storage space for anything. And it’s loud. All of these superfluous observations were made during an 8-hour-ish all-highway trek from Madison, Wisconsin to Detroit, Michigan.
Maybe all of that was just their hangover talking. Weddings. They’ll get ya.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t want to be vomit-level hung over in the passenger’s seat of a Camaro for 8 hours, either. But driving it? Bet your keister. The 335 hp 2016 Camaro V6 in convertible guise isn’t the German-performance-sedan-eating monster that the LT1 powered Camaro SS happens to be, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it still can be a joy. What really put the cherry on top was the available dual mode exhaust unit that lets out a high-revving scream worthy of an exotic. Having the top down only amplified the effect.
The engine scream that helps give this 2016 Camaro tester such memorable personality also raises some questions. Like: why does this 335 hp, sub-$40,000 Camaro convertible sound so much more exceptional from the factory than, say, a 464 hp Cadillac ATS-V? It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. More than that, the dual-mode exhaust on the Camaro V6 can and will help some buyers get over that they can no longer afford a V8. Not all of them, though. Because there honestly can be no replacing the hellfire bellows of cam-in-block, pushrod goodness.
As far as GM convertibles go, the Camaro is the antithesis of the leisurely Buick Cascada we recently covered. An overarching sense of hooliganism from the Camaro verses the buttoned-down presence of the Buick, via Europe. Between the two, neither are very practical from a carryall standpoint, and they both cost about the same when loaded up. So it all comes down to the behavior profile that the driver wishes to project onto the world. Between the two GM convertibles, we’d take the Camaro all day, and not just because it behaves better, sounds better, is far more powerful, and arguably looks better. Rather, it’s because the Camaro Convertible is far more modern feeling than the Buick Cascada, which is approaching its fourth year in its life cycle back in Europe as an Opel. It’s just not as polished as what the latest from GM has to offer.
There’s no difference in the cabin of the Camaro Convertible from the Camaro Coupe. Athletic aesthetics and an engaging seat position are two of the main highlights of the sixth-gen Camaro cabin, while a too-high beltline and visibility issues round out the bottom end – not unlike the fifth-generation model. The six-speed manual transmission threw short and sharp, and the pedal feel (floor mounted throttle!) is some of the best in the business, if you ask us. Especially for a V6-powered car. The steering would be more precise if not for the Goodyear Eagle Sport all seasons wrapping the wheels. All season tires… blah.
Making up for what-could-be-better tires is the overall feel of the 2016 Camaro Convertible. Yes, detatching the roof inhibits a fundamental handling flaw in the design of the Camaro, compromising both weight and structural rigidity compared to the coupe. Fortunately, the line continues to blur more and more with each passing vehicle generation between the standard coupe and the convertible Camaros. Where at some points the fifth-generation Camaro would resemble Santa Claus – wiggling like a bowl full of jelly – the sixth-generation Camaro Convertible actually feels properly bolted together, and has to be, aside from the Corvette Convertible, the most dialed-in drop-top GM has ever produced. Along with the increased stiffness over the last-gen Camaro Convertible, the 2016 Camaro Convertible benefits from the Alpha Platform’s dynamic multilink suspension geometry.
Despite not having all the tricks that the Camaro SS enjoys, such as magnetic ride control and active rev match, the Camaro holds its own as a suitable weekend corner carver for those seeking a few reasonable thrills. It’s not the bleeding edge of performance, but then again, it’s not trying to be. What it will do instead, is toot a set of demon trumpets from its backside with sounds loud enough to reverberate off the surrounding trees.
Truly, the most memorable takeaway from our Camaro V6 Convertible tester was its ability to absolutely scream. That damn dual mode exhaust system trickled down from the Camaro SS. The audio of which reminds more of a European grand touring car than that of something that was built in Lansing. I’ll go as far as to say the following: the Camaro’s V6 engine combined with a dual mode exhaust isn’t just the best sounding V6 that General Motors has ever offered from the factory… it’s one of the best sounding engines GM has ever offered, period. If that statement sounds too strong for you, I defy you, no, I triple dog dare you. Seek out a dual mode Camaro V6, test drive it, and report back. From where I stand, the dual mode exhaust might be the rock that shatters typical V6 muscle car stereotypes. The fact that it comes in drop top flavor only amplifies the splendor.