Review: Chevrolet Camaro SS droptop blasts sound, fury

MALIBU, Calif. — Oh, that sound.

The Chevrolet Camaro SS engine has already been tuned to delight those who love the sound of a throaty V-8. But to experience it at its best, the convertible version really demands a spin with the top down.

Tooling around the windy roads in the hills above the Pacific, the car seemed at its best. It roared down the straightaways and purred through the turns.

The SS is a sportier version of the Camaro. The SS is powered by a massive 6.2-liter V-8 in combination with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The powertrain is good for 455 horsepower, putting out zero to 60 mile-per-hour times of about four seconds. In this big beast, you can hear the thundering hooves. (We know the bicyclists or pedestrians will. At one point, we stopped to apologize to one biker for the racket we were making as we put the car through its paces.).

The SS convertible will be followed an even hotter version next year, a 640-horsepower ZL1.

Another factor that explains the muscle car’s quickness, it’s a tad lighter — about 223 pounds less compared with the outgoing model. The SS with the automatic transmission is rated at 17 miles per gallon in city driving, 28 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are slightly worse with the manual.

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Given the huge changes that Chevy gave to Camaro, we wondered whether the new convertible would lack the previous car’s stiffness, a common issue in droptops. On hard turns, the car held firm. No problem that we could detect. And the convertible top — cloth, not metal — can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30 mph.

One thing we didn’t like: The new Camaro convertible — same as the old Camaro — has a high beltline, relatively high doors that may make shorter drivers feel like they are peering over a wall.

The Camaro SS convertible is priced at $43,300 to start, plus $995 in shipping. But hey, particularly given Camaro’s 50th anniversary next year, it’s a rolling piece of history, a muscle car for the masses, and an extra fun one at that.

If you’re a car fanatic, that sound from under the hood will be pure music.

What Stands Out.

Sound: Throaty exhaust.

Power: Off to the races.

Open air: Ah, smell the roses.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible.

What? A muscle car that happens to be a convertible. Or the other way around.

When? On sale now.

How much: Starts at $43,300 plus $995 in shipping.

Where? Made in Lansing, Mich.

How big? 15.6 feet.

What makes it go? A 6.2-liter V-8 producing 455 horsepower.

How thirsty? 17 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for the automatic, 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the manual transmission.

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Overall: Fun in the sun, great sound around town.