There are few cars that I find myself wanting an automatic transmission when there is a manual option; this, sadly, is one of them. The blame goes to the springy and vague clutch pedal.
Chopping the top off of the Camaro added so much weight (more than 250 pounds) to an already portly coupe that it drives more like a grand tourer than a sports car. But then again, isn't that what the Camaro is for -- cruising? In that case, the Camaro convertible has accomplished its mission. With the big, burbling 6.2L V-8 and look-at-me design inside and out, the car is a visual and aural treat for both passengers and bystanders. Our test car was dressed in a Red Jewel Tricoat that grabbed the attention of anyone with eyes, and the black leather and black cloth top added a sinister element to the package. It may not be the most fun to drive, but it sure is fun to look at.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
I'll concede that empirically the Camaro convertible may be inferior to its coupe progenitor. Yet the two serve different purposes, and there is no denying that this is subjectively one of the coolest cars in which to spend a sunny summer evening.
Sure, the gearbox is notchy and heavy, the clutch spring too aggressive, and the interior a bit cheap. So what? Muscle cars were never about sophistication. The goal of a convertible muscle car is to mix big-block grunt with top-down cruising. Removing the roof makes for a Camaro that jiggles and shakes over rough roads, but it also allows you to fully revel in the exhaust note of the 6.2-liter V-8 while cruising around town. Nobody buys a Camaro SS convertible for full-on track attacks -- they buy one because it looks, sounds, and feels fun.
In that respect, this Camaro succeeds. It got enthusiastic stares, smiles, and comments from friends and family -- and strangers. I woke up early so I'd have more time to drive the car on a beautiful 65-degree morning before work. And I blipped the throttle for every single downshift, so as to better enjoy the grumbles and pops from the exhaust.
Back in the winter I confidently told a friend that the Camaro convertible would be The Hot Car to have in summer 2011. So far I haven't seen many around, and Chevrolet confirms that convertibles account for just 20 percent of Camaro sales. That's too bad -- I might be tempted to buy a gently used SS convertible in a few years' time, so I want lots of people to buy them now and keep resale prices low.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
It's easy to pick on the Camaro. It left the market for a long time and returned to the game with some pretty serious issues: The platform it rides on wasn't really intended for the U.S. market, so the interior isn't as useable as we'd like -- there's no way to put in a navigation unit without spending a lot of development dollars and OnStar isn't an acceptable substitute. It's very heavy. There were far too many compromises made for the design than hinder day-to-day use in terms of visibility and a functional trunk. But it's selling incredibly well.
The type of people buying Camaros and Camaro convertibles aren't looking for lap times, Lotus-like steering feel, or even a practical trunk. They value design, a killer exhaust note, and maybe a connection to the Transformers movies. I'm not willing to say these folks aren't car guys and girls, but the Camaro easily appeals to more of the non-enthusiast population than a more track-oriented toy.
I find it funny that so many of the people who demand GM and Ford bring more of their rear-wheel drive vehicles that are currently sold in Australia to the U.S. don't particularly care for the Camaro. Perhaps those vehicles are designed too specifically for the Australian market and can't be converted to please the consumers in this country at a reasonable cost.
I don't want to own a Camaro, but I do see the appeal in the car for people who love to cruise. There's a strong V-8, solid design, and now the ability to drop the top and bask in the sun.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor