A long, long time ago in a United States automobile industry far, far away, Chevrolet pulled the covers off a new Camaro. The General debuted the Camaro Concept, soon to be known as Generation 5, in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show with a casual hint they may actually build it. Later, of course, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner confirmed it a go, but as a 2010 model.
6 January 2006 to 16 March 2009 is a long time in car years (21, to be exact), but today is the day the first example squeezed out the regular production tube in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Welcome to the world, little Camaro.
The new machine is built upon the GM Zeta platform shared by the Pontiac G8 and numerous Australian Holdens. North-American buyers will be able to choose what motivates their Camaro; a 304-horsepower, 273 lb-ft of torque 3.6-litre V6 promises wheel-spinning fun and the optional 422 horsepower, 408 lb-ft of torque 6.2-litre LS3 V8 ensures full tire-melting abilities. Either can be had with a proper, three-pedal manual transmission.
Fuel economy is pretty darned good, considering the power potential; a light foot will get you 29 US MPG in a V6 on the highway and even the SS will pull mid-20s on the open road. Oddly, these numbers are one or two clicks up from their manual-transmission siblings.
Design aesthetic is subjective, hinging on whether you’re a fan of the retro styling both inside and out. Regardless of what mostly works on the Ford Mustang and definitely works on the Dodge Challenger, the Generation 5 has been well-received in both coupe and convertible forms. Certainly, the new Camaro is drop-dead gorgeous from some angles and chunk-city from others. We’ll see how the look pans out in its natural habitat, prowling drive-ins and taunting German cars on cloverleafs.
Oddly, despite the long gestation period and a world economy that could best be described as crap, GM has 13,000 orders for its new baby. Even at a projected 50,000 units per year, this will not be enough to pull GM out of the bailout bucket. Indeed, one wonders how many Generation 5s will wind up in corporate rental fleets as opposed to enthusiasts’ garages. Prices will range from just under CDN$27,000 (base LS Coupe) to just over CDN$40,000 (loaded SS Coupe).