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First Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 Prototype

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First Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 Prototype

It feels good to be on the other side. Recently, we got a chance to pilot a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 Prototype out on the public highways and byways of southeastern Michigan.

Typically, we're on the other side of this game, pestering development engineers and posting spy shots of some car just like these engineering prototypes of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6. Heck, as far as we know, we might have run pictures of one or both of these very automobiles.

Yes, these two bits of spy bait still had matte-black camouflage panels (one with triangles made of what looked like white shoe polish), ill-fitting bumper covers, no Chevy bowtie and a bunch of small makeshift headlight elements, all of which taken collectively look a little bit like a rash.

But what do we care? We're driving the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro!

Progress Report
So these prototype cars were rough. Real rough.

How rough? Well, the car with the Aisin-built six-speed manual transmission carried a steering wheel with shift paddles on it. Wait...what? "Oh that," said our passenger, Camaro Chief Engineer Doug Houlihan. "That's a wheel for an automatic car they just threw in here."

And we must say for the record that we will be a bit circumspect about making any major pronouncements about what the production vehicle will be like based on this early drive.

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 will not be the lowly poseur's car we've come to expect of the small-engine pony car.

Oh wait, circumspect, right? OK. Well, let's say that if all the parts and pieces come together as planned and the engineers' estimates prove accurate then the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 will not be the lowly...and so forth and so on.

Not the Executive Assistant's Car
The long-standing tradition in pony car circles is to utterly dismiss the six-cylinder version as the ride of choice for sorority girls or guys who are into the vocal stylings of Huey Lewis. When Chevrolet released specifics on the new Camaro, though, the performance details for the V6 model were certainly more surprising than those of the V8.

The 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 is the same 304-horsepower engine as the upgrade engine choice in the Cadillac CTS. Officially, General Motors is saying that the Camaro V6 will make 300 hp even. Except any time you talk to the engineers, they just give you the look and say, "Well...," and then they stop short. So expect a few hp above the magic 300 mark.

Either way, it wasn't that long ago that 300 hp was a number for V8 output. It still is for the Mustang GT's V8 — at least until an upgraded version arrives in the 2010 model. This is 90 hp more than Ford's current Mustang V6 option and, perhaps more distressingly, about 50 hp more than the V6 in the newly introduced Dodge Challenger SE.

Further, the V6 Camaro won't be short on gears (six), or wheel size (18 inches standard) or appeal (use your eyes).

Paint by Numbers
The acceleration numbers we pulled on the 2009 Challenger SE with its mandatory four-speed automatic transmission were as unimpressive as you would expect from a 3,819-pound car with a 250-hp engine. Zero to 60 takes 8.1 seconds. The SE eats up 16.1 seconds traveling through the quarter-mile.

Chevrolet is estimating that the V6 Camaro can get to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and complete the quarter in 14.4 seconds. That's with either the standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic. Houlihan thinks that with final tweaking, his team will be able to get that figure down to 5.9 seconds to 60 mph. That's not going to be enough to beat a 350Z, but it would surely take down a Mazda RX-8.

Even accounting for the not exactly impartial source of this information, it's pretty clear the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 will be quick enough to at least get a car enthusiast's attention.


Video & Photos at link ^
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