There are tradeoffs, including a more cramped rear seat, less trunk space and a weight gain of about 125 pounds — a result of extra chassis bracing. The bracing seems well integrated; engineers said that’s because the 21st century Camaro was designed from the start to be built as a convertible. The convertible mechanism and softtop, in either black or tan, are also about 125 pounds heavier than the hardtop they replace.
A longtime complaint about Camaro convertibles — dating from the late 1960s — was that they came with absolutely harrowing levels of cowl shake, steering column vibration and torsional sloppiness. Early models were so bad in this regard that G.M. parts departments actually offered shims to keep the doors from flying open when going through twists and turns, and “cocktail shakers” to keep the wheels on the ground. The euphemism for this level of chassis compliance was “boulevard ride.”
But for the new convertible, Chevy intentionally moved away from the old-school wet-dishrag sensation to a more controlled ride with tighter tolerances.
The new model is built with so much attention to suspension integrity that the engineers decided to apply the convertible’s calibrations to the coupes, improving the entire Camaro line. “It’s a rolling production change that is being applied to the coupes, too, going forward,” Russ Clark, Camaro’s product marketing director, said during a test drive in and around San Diego.
At the wheel, I could sense some significant vibrations at highway speeds on the worst washboard pavement, but nothing on the order of the all-time champ: the wobbly (and justifiably defunct) Chevy SSR pickup. G.M.’s engineers seem to have learned some valuable lessons: for a convertible, I would have to rate the Camaro’s overall handling very highly.