Apologies to GM for referencing a Beach Boys song about a Ford, but the spirit rings true. The Red Beast is great fun when you have some weekend time and commuter-free highways to let her run free. She doesn’t disappoint.
I mentioned in my previous post that the handling was quite good, especially considering what I expected from a car of this heft. After pushing her a little bit, I can unequivocally say that the handling is very, very good. (Disclaimer: I am not a gearhead, high performance driver guy who runs slaloms, drifts, or rides on two wheels. I simply like cars and happily embrace the opportunity to see just how capable a capable car really is.) I took some curves pretty fast, including pushing 50 on a tight cloverleaf exit that I dare not exceed ~35 in my TL-S and there was nary a moment of uncertainty — nor tire squeal for that matter. It took a lot of turns (and believe me, I tried) before I actually heard a squeal. The StabiliTrak traction control certainly had something to do with it. However, even when StabiliTrak is disabled, it takes quite a lot of pushing to slip the tires. Even then, I’ve never felt out of control.
There’s something majestic about a car that never feels like it’s straining. Uphill. AC blasting. 3 adults in the car. Towing a bass fishing boat (ok, not really that one). Doesn’t matter what you throw at her. Punch it and she goes unbridled until you let up. I hit 101 on 280 on Sunday (my wife was a bit concerned when I told her, but it’s much safer than hitting 280 on 101) and it was like a stroll in the park. I can easily hit 90 when passing without noticing. Awesome. Smooth and effortless…what better endorsement can there be for an engine? BTW, at highways speeds, she accelerates faster in 6th than my TL-S does in 4th. Whoa, Nelly!
Speaking of smooth, the overall ride is very comfortable (not sure if Chevy likes that description for the Camaro’s ride, but it really is). You can certainly feel the road, given the performance tires and suspension, but it’s a good, solid feel, not an abrupt, choppy one. I’ve done a couple days of commuting now and when I’m not trying to push her, it’s just a normal, easy ride.
Time to pay the piper: a word on mileage. I just filled up this morning after 198 miles. Adding a few more miles for delivery, I’ll estimate that I got 240 miles on 14.561 gallons for an average mpg of 16.5. The sticker indicates 16 city / 25 highway / 19 combined. Given how I’ve been driving, 16.5 isn’t that far off from what Chevy claims. A thirsty engine, for sure, but I’m not sure I’d expect much more from a 400hp V8 automatic. By comparison, my 8-year-old 260hp V6 automatic gets 22-25 combined on much more mild-mannered driving.
A few concerns/nitpicks…
- Rear visibility is still a pain in the butt, even after I’ve grown accustomed. Again, the view straight out the rear window is fine, but checking blind spots is difficult. As my buddy Keval said, you don’t want that kind of issue changing lanes at high speeds. You either have to look long and very carefully over your shoulder, lean forward a little bit, or believe that people will just get out of your way.
- The interior door handle is too far forward. Coupe doors are large and heavy. Putting the handle that far forward reduces the applied torque when closing the door from the inside.
- The tick-tick-tick of the turn signal is too quiet. I’ve forgotten to cancel the signal many times after changing lanes because I don’t hear that it’s still on.
- While the trunk is fairly large, the opening is tiny (presumably to make room for the large rear fenders). I haven’t actually used the trunk, but I can see how it would be a pain.
A few nice, unexpected touches…
- After you get used to it, the audio system is pretty easy to use, particularly the auxiliary input for portable music players. It’s easier to use than the system in my wife’s Honda CRV. Also, the Bluetooth connection with my phone is really clear.
- Chevy came up with a solution to the quiet turn signal I mentioned above: there’s a dashboard message that tells you when the signal has been on a long time. I’ve never seen that before — clever. But unnecessary if the turn signal were a little louder.
- A rear sensor, which beeps when you get close to objects while backing up. I’ve typically seen this feature only in SUVs or higher-end cars. I’m guessing Chevy put it in the Camaro to compensate for the limited rear visibility.
One more day with the Red Beast. I’ll give my final thoughts after I turn her in tomorrow.