By on July 28, 2015

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

It is truly a great time to be a gearhead. Not in the sense of there are no bad cars, because there still are, but rather because the cars that are good are really damn good. Take for example this Camaro SS. For three days, I lapped it around the freshly repaved tarmac of Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.

Currently GM offers six versions of the Camaro, from the relatively mild-mannered 323 horsepower 3.6 liter V-6, to the journalist jailing supercharged 580 HP ZL1. This doesn’t include the nearly 17 convertible and specialty variants. This particular Summit White version is a 2SS model with leather interior, a 426 hp 6.2 liter V-8 and 6 speed automatic transmission. Building this car on Chevy’s website comes in a hair under $40K.

Slipping into the wide leather seats, the Camaro immediately reveals its size. It’s not a big car but quite portly at around 4,000 lbs and it feels like it with the over-boosted power steering and long travel brake pedal. That’s not a complete negative because the reality of this car is it will spend it’s life on a daily commuter’s grind with an occasional stoplight blast to remind the owner they bought the V-8.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

However, the track is where the Camaro surprises you. Even with the over-boosted steering and marshmallow power brakes, the Camaro can actually handle itself on a track. In the first turn the SS seems to magically shed 1,000 lbs. It is by no means a track car, but becomes unexpectedly nimble. Where the overbuilt nature of the Camaro comes into play is its ability to repeat this activity for three straight days.

The first trick, of course, is to completely disable the traction control. Either hold the button or press it twice to completely turn it off, otherwise the yaw control will apply the brakes. It won’t upset the car, but it will add wear to the almost overtasked four-wheel discs.

Instead, you learn to use the tires, but be warned that those tires will not last. The SS comes from the Oshawa plant equipped with staggered P245/45R20 front and P275/40R20 rear high-performance summer tires. These are capable shoes, especially in the light of the Camaro’s most likely fate. However, if you are in the market for this and you’re going hit the track, invest in a spare set of rims and tires. This is no different than with the Mustang GT or even the Challenger — they are all fast cars, but they are not Miatas and will consume wear items. Even harking back to their earliest appearances in the late ’60s Trans-Am series, track versions of these cars need upgraded shoes and brakes. Fortunately, there is a host of companies, including GM Performance, that make this an entertaining late night Internet search and endless fodder for web forum debates and bench races.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Alongside those debates about the best wheels, tires and the worthiness of a GM brake system versus a Wildwood upgrade, you will see discussions on engine enhancements. You don’t need them. The 6.2 LS, even in this form, is plenty. You won’t set any track records, but the 420-foot pounds of torque is more than enough to put you in well over your head.

Leading a pack of supercars could be overwhelming, yet a well-driven SS managed to hold its own. The car would push through turn 2 but slide right onto the outside for a blast into turn 3. With a suspension load, the SS would use the whole track for exit then build a solid head of steam through 4 without lifting and settling on the outside of the entry into 5. Turn 6 was the Camaro’s moneymaker. The trick was to take the exit of 5 all the way to the far side for the 6 entry, hit the apex and roll into the throttle hard. Let the rear wheels spin through the limited slip, stepping the rear slightly out, and glide to the exit. Without fail, this would put a car length on the aggressively driven Nissan GT-R following behind. The right sweeper of turn 7 would give the AWD cars a chance to catch as the Camaro pushed the front end to drive to the outside, but the SS would be impossibly well composed and balanced through the 8/9 combo. Hard into 10a with a hint of trail braking and before letting the big dog run down the the Phoenix Flat, textbook entry for turn 11 and onto the front straight, hard braking up the hill for turn 1.

Gingerman Raceway

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. This would be the SS’s job for three straight days. That is actually where you begin to respect the Camaro. Yes, there are lots of well-built cars that you can drive to the track, enjoy all weekend and drive home, but the SS was here to lead a pack of 9 supercars totaling almost 4,500 horsepower — five of them equipped with all-wheel drive. This was a real trial for the big white whale, and it was honestly up to the task. It is not a supercar. It is just a solid, fast car.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

If you have 40 grand and a need for the occasional backseat you could do worse than the Camaro. Staying out of the option box could keep the cost closer to $35K. That would leave you some room for the modifications you would eventually make. After all, you’re a gearhead, and it’s a great time to be one.

General Motors contributed nothing to this review.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is married to the most patient woman in the world, lives in Atlanta and is racing his a tape covered Honda Civic in the 24 Hours of LeMons this month at Autobahn in Joilet Illinois. You can follow that and all his other shenaningans on InstagramTwitter and Vine at M3ntalward.

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40 Comments on “2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS Track Test...”

  • avatar

    All my brain registered was:
    portly at around 4,000 lbs and it feels like it
    hair under $40K
    over-boosted steering and marshmallow power brakes
    big white whale

    I suppose I need to drink more.

    • 0 avatar

      The weight!!! You and I both.
      The Taurus SHO and MKS are called porky and they weigh just under 4000 according to truedelta.

      How in heck can pony cars get this heavy?

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed – 3300-3500 lbs should be the limit.
        I don’t like the small windows, it’s simply wrong and unbalanced in my eyes.

        • 0 avatar

          It does sound bad in print, but I did drive a similar model (sadly, not on a track) and it’s a lot more fun than the numbers would have you believe. It doesn’t feel fat, it feels athletic and capable.
          As for visibility, yes, it isn’t easy to see out; you must adopt the Italian method to driving: What is behind me is unimportant.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree muscle cars are overweight these days. Blame it on the cost savings move of the Camaro sharing the heavy GM sedan chassis.

        Though to be fair, comparing the Camaro SS as tested curb weights against the Taurus SHO and MKS Ecoboost, the Camaro is still lighter by 500-600lbs, which is a significant margin. (looking up curb weights on C&D road tests)

        Camaro SS – 3,859
        SHO – 4,350lbs
        MKS – 4,474lbs

        The sad thing is with the new 2015 Mustang GT gaining 150 lbs, both the Camaro SS and Mustang GT are similar in weight (C&D tested the 6MT GT at 3,810 lbs, 2011-2014 GT 5.0s were ~3,630-3,670 lbs)

        The new 2016 Camaro is promised to lose 200-300 lbs vs the current gen Camaro. If GM fulfulls that promise and we get an 3,600lb Camaro SS with the new Corvette 455hp V8 along with the cooled seats, HUD, Magnetic shocks, sunroof, dual-mode exhaust, and an updated 1LE track pack, the 2016 Camaro will look very appealing compared to the 2016 Mustang GT I’m considering buying. Fingers crossed!

  • avatar

    I rode in a 1LE and it is a properly fast car and sounds great from the factory too. My main beef for it as a commuter is its huge size, and so-so to poor interior quality. The next SS seems to have addressed both, so good times ahead.

    Great time to be an enthusiast indeed. I remember when the 03/04 Terminators were the hottest thing out and now you can spank those with a modded 5.0L! Insane.

  • avatar

    If I could safely see out of one, I’d love to have a Camaro – a base model in yellow, please.

  • avatar

    I drive basically every new car I can get my hands on. One of myfriends has a supercharged Camaro with over 700HP E-force. I can compare it to this. These cars – including SRT products are AWESOME on the streets and straights, but HORRIBLE on tracks.

    426HP is “civilian” now. That’s the old 6.1-L HEMI number…Hyundai puts more in the Genesis R-spec nowadays and offers a better ride quality.

    Call me when you push those numbers up with a supercharger add on from the CTS-V Coupe.

    • 0 avatar

      Lol, for what? So you can spend four figure sums on legal fees courtesy of the Rockville Center Police Department?

      Even on the highway these behemoths are a waste in NYC. Way too big for weaving in and out of lanes to get past herds. Way too big to snake around the Jackie Robinson. Etc. etc. Best car for NYC’s highly policed war torn pavement is some kind of SUV on high profile tires

    • 0 avatar

      “Call me when you push those numbers up with a supercharger add on from the CTS-V Coupe.”

      They already do that, it is called the Camaro ZL1.

    • 0 avatar

      Given it ostensibly already eats tires for little reason, that doesn’t really sound like much of a solution….

      For driving around tracks, track specific cars really are the better mousetrap. A VERY occasional visit for those who rarely track may be OK in ones commuter, but buying a commuter car based on how “well” it supposedly goes around a racetrack when piloted by someone else is, if possible, even sillier than commuting in a Peterbilt based on how much someone else can haul with it.

      The above does get less and less silly, the closer the car’s track performance match street based commuting requirements. Hence Miata. Or, one can always hope, S600… Ditto for commuting requirements and hauling performance, hence light duty trucks.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve owned both a MX-5/Miata (2009 touring with power hard top, 6sp manual) and a Camaro (2014 SS 426hp, 6sp manual). I used the MX-5/Miata as one of my daily drivers 9 months out out 12, drove one of my kids to school every morning (actually not every morning…but every morning I used the MX-5 as my chosen daily driver) in it, and spent a lot of time driving it. I tried to use the Camaro in a similar manner but could not. The summer tires supposedly are not to be used, I think, below something like 60 degrees F, so in this climate, the thing can only be driven (because of cold mornings) as a daily driver about 5 or 6 months out of 12. Maneuvering in parking lots, due to the size of the vehicle, is difficult (I had as much trouble with the Camaro as the moms had with their Suburbans when dropping off my kids at school activities). And, although I’d say the Camaro is a fantastic “gentleman’s coupe” and great highway driver, and although it is OK in traffic, even with the manual transmission, it is difficult to live with it as a daily driver (or even as a second or third “back-up” daily driver). I tried my best to use it as I intended when I bought it (as a second or third…fun…vehicle to be driven on a regular basis) but I failed. It, I think, is really more of a “show piece” or track day type vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      bigduckseriesreview @ yuutoob

      Car I can get my hands on. One of my friends has a supercharger add on from the CTS-V Coupe. Better ride quality. Call me when you push those numbers up with over 700HP E-force. I can compare it to this. 426HP is “civilian” now. These cars – including SRT products are it to this. These cars – including SRT products are AWESOME on tracks. 426HP is “civilian” nowadays and straights, but HORRIBLE on the Genesis R-spec nowadays and

  • avatar

    4000lbs, 420HP.

    Imagine, if you will, a 2000lb car with 210HP and much less drag. Camaro is too impractical for me to DD; it would be a second car at best. Something like a working man’s Ariel Atom would deliver 100% of the performance, while not being 2 fcking tons. Heck, I would take a supercharged FR-S over this. 4000lbs.

    • 0 avatar

      Give me a Flyin’ Miata personally, but then I miss the days when muscle cars weighted a shade under/over 3000 lbs.

      • 0 avatar

        They have some pretty funky kits on there. That Catfish would just about match this Camaro on HP/ton while weighing less than HALF. THAT’S the kind of sports car we need.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, muscle cars never weighed under 3,000 lb. A 1964 GTO weighed around 3,450.

        The last time a pony car weighed under 3,000 was probably 1966.

        • 0 avatar

          The fun one could have in those muscle cars arose from completely different sensations than ditto in sports cars. The whole point was that they were overpowered for their chassis. Even drag racing some of the hotter ones is quite the adrenalin rush. Completely, 100%, diametrically opposed to the modern reincarnations, where stability control, launch control and a chassis that would do an M3 proud, makes straight line driving about nothing other than “being pushed back in the seat”. Or, IOW, about as fun as sitting in an airplane on takeoff.

          Instead, the new ones are now, like every other darned class of car, come to think of it, evaluated according to how good they are at being a sports car. In which case, the main ingredient they are all missing, is a hefty dose of lightness.

          Exactly how appropriate evaluating every darned class of cars by sports car metrics, is another discussion altogether. Personally, I quite miss floaty, flexy cruise mobiles with more engine than sense. If I have to be stuck snailpacing around at 70s era speeds, may as well have some of the charms that went along with 70s era cars along with it….

        • 0 avatar

          The last time a pony car was less than 3000 pounds was not 1962, but 1993,! That being a Mustang LX 5.0 notch back and of course all the way back to 1979. In 1989 a 5.0 ran a quicker quarter mile(source being motor trend) with 48 fewer cubic inches and 4800 dollars cheaper then an iroc. 4800 was a chunk of change when a new 5.0 was 12500 brand new back then. Times a changing!

    • 0 avatar

      Well stated…the FR-S is the new 944…in a way.
      Add the SC and you’d have a giant killer.

  • avatar

    What good is there in driving a high performance car you can hardly see out of and having to look at those stupid childish gauges and dash.

  • avatar

    waiting for a review of the next gen. Camaro

    to me this Camaro just looks too old, like the SN195 Mustang.

  • avatar

    I rented a similar Camaro recently – the power was fantastic and it handled pretty well. However, a stitched seam on the driver’s seat was already ripped open near the shoulder belt and this was the first thing one sees entering the car. The visibility, as we know, is terrible. I don’t understand the logic of the Camaro instruments. They look like complete garbage to me. Add the significant cost of consumables (i.e. – massive, staggered tires) and the good times are completely eclipsed by the negatives of real ownership. Interestingly enough, I had reserved a Challenger, but got the Camaro instead. When I finally got around to driving the Challenger, it was a battleship with power and all of the downsides of the Camaro.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    The first thing I’m looking for in a review of the new Camaro is a status report on the visibility. The previous edition was simply unacceptable — unless you’re a low rider who’s cruising at 15 mph. But there was nary a word here on the matter. Which points out how clever it was for GM to show off the car at a racetrack, where you’re not looking over your shoulder for the approach of John Law. Nor are you trying to park the damned thing in a crowded lot.

    So — is the rearward visibility improved or not?

  • avatar

    I’d love to read this same review but using the new Mustang. I think the new Mustang is a looker… where as the Camaro? Not so much.

    Those brakes look undersized sitting under the 20″ wheels, which means (to me) you can either upsize them or downsize the wheels to something better suited for track duty.

    While the gauges are a bit too retro for me at least they are showing you helpful information. Other then trucks when was the last time you saw a trans temp read out?

  • avatar

    “. . . the SS was here to lead a pack of 9 supercars totaling almost 4,500 horsepower — five of them equipped with all-wheel drive.”

    Is that an advantage on this track?

    What kind of tread width would be appropriate for track tires on this beast? Would 275s all around be enough rubber?

  • avatar

    I agree with the assessment that once you drive the Camaro above five-tenths it suddenly feels 1,000 pound lighter. You never forget it’s a big car, but when flogged the competency of the Zeta platform comes through.

    I would never own one however. Here is my review, which is generally far less than favorable:

    • 0 avatar

      Molten Coleman coolers lmao. You need a gig here.

    • 0 avatar

      I appreciate your review – but now I’m curious about your (former) house…

      • 0 avatar

        I really built my dream home, giving up on a three car garage due to lot size.

        Had a full bar downstairs with wine fridge, drink cooler, and had over 75 different spirits on the shelf – all supporting barware. My upstairs theater room wasn’t some $100K AV paradise, but it could have been out of a magazine.

        I solicited the help of two women friends, one with a degree in fashion design so I didn’t turn the place into a 100% bachelor pad, assuring I never had a girlfriend that stuck around past the first visit to the house. That means the blue Boston Red Sox logo couch I wanted was out, and a green microfiber sectional was in.

        The builder would have potential buyers come through my house when they sold the model.

        I met an amazing woman less than a year after the keys were put in my hands – and now I have that three car garage — but I miss the theater room. Still have the bar, but the way the new house is laid out, it is barely used.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I don’t seen how anyone could find this tank attractive. Every line on it looks like a simple CAD rendering–like a Mattel model of a actual car. Does anyone in Detroit know what clay is anymore?

  • avatar

    Consumables? My friends SS chewed through its tires in 18K. So before the new set went on, the remaining tread was spun off…what a smoky blast!!

  • avatar

    “Even harking back to their earliest appearances in the late ’60s Trans-Am series, track versions of these cars need upgraded shoes and brakes.”

    They also had acid-dipped bodies to save weight, a Traco 460 hp 5 liter V8, suspension redone and all new brakes, no upholstery, a roll cage, etc. I saw these things when I attended St Jovite TransAm in ’68 when Mark Donahue won. It was a cheater car by the master, Roger the Dodger Penske.

    I don’t recall any street Camaros at the race. Various hopefuls campaigned Minis (yes!) Alfas and 911s, and they just got in the way.

    I bet one of these resurrected Penske Camaros just with modern tires would eat this fatty Camaro for breakfast, and be looking for a snack by 0945. Cart springs and all. In fact, the Mustangs and Javelins would too. These cars only weighed 2600 lbs or so, and decently quick.

    Here is a huge pile of pix from that very race:

  • avatar

    Not bad for the base SS comfortable old man edition. Anyone who tracks would definitely want to tick the 1LE option box. I really like that 1LE and if you read the rags the new Mustang still cant touch it for the folks who value handling over ride comfort.

    So there is a cheap interior and it weighs alot and you cant see out of it. But what is the alternative if you want bad ass handling v8 car at a reasonable price. The chevy SS sedan is close but more dough. The Mustang still cant hang and the challenger is a big old marshamallow. Maybe the new Camaro will be just that much better. Im all for smaller and lighter, i think what i am envisioning is a modern LX 5.0 notch LOL.

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