2012 Chevrolet Camaro 45th Anniversary – Review
45 years young and still kicking up a storm
By Shahzad Sheikh
The man’s just been to take the Chevrolet Camaro 45th Anniversary edition back. Now when I look out the window I no longer see the extended silhouette of the coupe shape, with its subtle curves, bulging wheel arches and flowing lines. Nor do I see the flashes of silver and red on the glistening black bodywork.
Two years on from launch, this is still a stunningly attractive car that sits very well indeed, poised and planted, it has the road presence to match its not insignificant heritage. And this particular car does much to celebrate that heritage, festooned as it is with ‘45th’ badges denoting its celebratory edition status. Although in two months time the Camaro will actually be 46-years old.
The 45th version comes in V6 and V8 flavours in coupe or convertible guises. We tested the range-topping SS flavour costing AED195,000 ($53k) as a Coupe like this, or AED205,000 ($55,700) for the Convertible. They’re about a AED10,000 ($2700) premium over the regular cars (Camaro range starts at AED133,000 or $36,150, by the way).
The 45th pack includes bonnet stripes with dark silver exterior accents with the red ‘45’ slash, HID headlamps, exclusive 20-inch wheels, and inside there is black leather upholstery with red, white and blue stitching, as well as clear white trim and the 45th badge on the dashboard, seats, sill plates, steering wheel and fenders.
For 2012 Camaros all got a revised rear spoiler and updated taillights. Inside there’s a new, more conventional steering wheel – although personally I preferred the previous more evocative deep-dished wheel even if it was bigger and more awkward when trying to use the remote buttons, it added character. The instrument panel is funkier with crisp blue backlighting and the auto-dimming rear-view mirror now features a rear camera when you select reverse gear.
The car I tested also had a head-up display, which is a must, not only because it puts important stuff like speed and gear ratios in sight – it can also be configured to include a rev counter – but it sorts out a previous issue I had with the car. Each time you hit the 120kph speed limit the centre screen in the instrument panel blanks out with an overspeed warning. There’s no annoying chime, but suddenly you can’t see important info – especially if you’re using the sequential auto, and you won’t know what gear you’re in. This is all sorted thanks to the HUD.
The lower stack of instruments just ahead of the gearshift remain as pointless and useless as ever, but still look rather cool, and the sunroof – standard here – means you lose a bit of headroom, making things a bit tight for me. Still the boot is remarkably big despite its small opening, and the rear seats are comfy and spacious enough to carry two children, although they might feel a little claustrophobic back there because of the rising waistline and wide c-pillar.
Under the bonnet it keeps the 6.2-litre V8 with 400bhp (426 for manual versions) and 410lb ft (420lb ft for the manual) engine. There’s a six-speed auto with ‘Tap-shift’ paddles. 0-100kph is in 4.9 seconds with a top speed limited to 250kph.
Performance is suitably ballistic, with you hardly ever deploying full throttle around town. You can use the paddleshifts by putting the tranny into Sports, and then pulling on a lever. Frankly though, for normal driving, after a while you’ll stop bothering. There is enough torque to give you ferocious go whatever the gear. Even the standard mode is responsive enough.
And then there’s the grip, road holding and handling. It’s amazingly well bolted to the ground, even under duress, with the sticky big rubber ably doing its job to keep the car planted. Steering response is accurate and sharp, turn-in is confident with little understeer, and most surprisingly of all the rear stays firmly glued to the road, with real provocation required for tail-out antics. It corners very flat too, thanks to its firm suspension, with body roll controlled.
There are downsides of course: the ride ends up a bit fidgety and occasionally veers towards harsh, but that’s the compromise you make, and there are no multi-modes for the suspension. Plus the rear is a bit too tightly welded to the road for a muscle car, making this car a hard one to be doing burnouts or wheelspins in.
Ultimately that’s a bit of a contradiction with this car. It’s a muscle car, but the grip and handling is too sophisticated. So perhaps it’s actually a sports car. But it’s physically too big to be one of those. And if I was to get picky, I’d say the soundtrack is a little too subdued, more deep throaty gargle than a full-on roar.
But these reservations aside, and they’re mostly down to personal preferences, this is a great car, with Hollywood looks, WWF brute performance, and Fred Astaire agility. It’s already a modern motoring icon, and if you want to celebrate its specialness the stand-out 45th Edition is for you. Alternatively just get a regular SS (I’d recommend the manual for greater driver involvement) if you just want heavyweight champion that floats like a butterfly, or the potent-enough V6, if you’re merely after the sexy style combined with a decent turn of speed (0-100kph in 6 seconds).
Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Edition
Price: AED195,000 ($35,000)
Engine: 6162cc, V8, 400bhp @ 5900, 410lb ft @ 4300
Performance: 0-100kph 4.9seconds, 250kph, 21L/100km
Transmission: six-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Shahzad’s verdict: Finely honed over 45 years!