Chevrolet Camaro convertible (2012-2015)
"The Chevrolet Camaro convertible is big, brash and as American as apple pie. It drives surprisingly well, but it's very wide for British roads."
- Head-turning looks
- Quite cheap for a V8
- Impressive performance
- Engine could be louder
- Very high running costs
- You can't buy a new one any more
The Chevrolet Camaro convertible was designed to provide V8-powered, wind-in-the-hair thrills at a relatively affordable price. It was developed alongside the Camaro coupe to ensure there was sufficient bracing built into it from the start to make up for the loss of rigidity caused by losing the roof.
There was only one version available, the SS, coming with all the kit you could really need, such as leather seats, an eight-speaker stereo and parking sensors. Two gearboxes were available – a six-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The engine produced 426bhp, accelerating the car from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph.
We talk about the Camaro convertible in the past tense because, like every other Chevrolet, you can no longer buy one in the UK.
Read on to see what we thought of it back in 2012...
MPG, running costs & CO2
The manual version of the Camaro convertible will only return 20mpg on average, which is bad enough. But accelerate the V8 aggressively and you could see single-figure fuel economy. The automatic version saves fuel by shutting down half the cylinders of its slightly less powerful engine when cruising, but even with this technology, it still only does 21.5mpg on average.
High fuel consumption and high CO2 emissions figures go hand-in-hand: the 329g/km emitted by the manual version incurs a £505 annual tax bill. Plus, don't forget routine maintenance and insurance cover will also be very high.
Engines, drive & performance
The Camaro is flawed but fun – you're always aware of its weight when you're accelerating, braking or turning. The steering is a little slow and missing some feel, but there's plenty of grip and the car handles much better than American muscle cars of old.
With 426bhp available, the Camaro is certainly fast, doing 0-62mph in only 5.2 seconds with a manual gearbox, although its huge weight means you don't enjoy the same sensation of speed that smaller, lighter cars generate.
The only real problem is the Camaro's massive width – combine this with the fact that it's only available in left-hand drive and the Camaro is very hard to drive quickly on a narrow British B-road.
Interior & comfort
Thanks to independent rear suspension, the Camaro convertible rides relatively well for a car with large wheels. Of course, the springs are on the firm side to prevent its huge mass from rolling about in corners, but it's comfortable enough at speed. It's only at low speed around town that imperfections thump up into the interior.
The Camaro convertible isn't quite as composed as the coupe, because the lack of a roof means you can sometimes feel the body flex when you drive over larger bumps. Also, the fabric hood doesn't do a very good job of insulating you from noise and wind buffeting is an issue when it's folded down.
Unfortunately, the manual release for the hood is tricky to operate and this delays the electric folding operation. Still, the electrically operated leather seats are comfortable and a smart head-up display means you can keep your eyes on the road – very handy in a left-hand-drive car this wide.
Practicality & boot space
For front-seat passengers, the Camaro convertible is just fine, as its wide body gives you plenty of shoulder room. The problem lies with the back seats. While they're better than most four-seater sports cars, tight rear headroom when the roof is up and generally limited rear legroom means a Mercedes E-Class cabriolet is much better for carrying adults in the back.
Also, while the boot's 308-litre capacity is reasonable, lowering the roof reduces this to 267 litres and the opening is pretty tiny, making it impossible to get larger suitcases through the gap. Finally, there are very few useful storage spaces inside the cabin and even the cup-holders are on the small side.
Reliability & safety
Reliability shouldn't be an issue, as the Camaro's V8 engine has been tried and tested in the Chevrolet Corvette. Also, the big engine is very relaxed when cruising at 70mph, which should help boost its longevity.
While the car's interior hasn't been built from high-quality materials, they all feel pretty hard-wearing and well constructed. What's more, the Camaro convertible comes with a three-year warranty and a year's free roadside assistance.
Price, value for money & options
The Camaro convertible's trump card is that it offers V8 power for a V6 price. It comes with all the equipment you'll need, such as leather seats, cruise control, parking sensors and Bluetooth, while safety kit includes traction control, six airbags and ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.
This means that, unlike many European models, you won't end up blowing your budget on optional extras. You'll spend a lot on fuel, though, as the Camaro's huge V8 has a significant thirst for petrol.