I was in Napa, California, for a wedding a few weeks ago and needed to rent a car to get me around, as well as get me and my girlfriend to and from the airport – I was able to negotiate a Chevy Camaro for a very small upgrade fee and couldn’t pass on that opportunity.
The model I received was equipped with the V6, but I will say that the V6 Camaros have come a long way compared to the way I remember them – plenty of pep and power, no longer the “looks fast but is anything but…” mentality that V6 Camaros used to embody. As I drove the car through Napa, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face as I mashed down the accelerator and heard & felt the Camaro compliantly respond with 312 horsepower thrusting me down the road.
What I liked most about the Camaro:
- Having a convertible – and driving with the top down through Napa – you can’t beat that…
- Exterior styling – it is a cool looking car
- Nice wheels – it’s nice to see 18″ OEM wheels that fill the fender nicely, which is especially uncommon on a rental car
- Plenty of power – I was surprised by this, but the car definitely felt quicker than my A4, and much quicker than I thought a V6 Camaro would ever be
- Nice exhaust note – quiet during normal driving, but a really nice sound when you romp on it. Better than most factory exhausts and probably better than a lot of aftermarket exhausts I’ve heard too
- Decent rear seat space – I filled the car up with me and four other female passengers we drove around from vineyard to vineyard (it’s tough being me sometimes), and surprisingly it wasn’t nearly as cramped as you’d think. The car is very big, and given all of that space Chevy was actually able to provide a decent rear seat.
However, as the weekend went on I began to miss the refinement of my A4 – even though my A4 is 5 years older, the interior is years ahead over the Camaro. Likewise the overall fit and finish is still behind the standard set by German cars, leaving something even more to be missed.
My major dislikes about the car:
- Cheap & gimmicky interior – the interior was supposed to be “retro-chic” but it kind of just looked tacky and gimmicky. Cool for a weekend, but I think the car deserves a more serious interior. This was my biggest gripe, as I could see this car as being a pretty decent daily driver if it wasn’t for the kitschy interior.
- Awful road noise – you might as well leave the top down all of the time, because when the top is up it is just as loud as if it weren’t. The road noise would be maddening for a long road trip, especially if it were raining on top of that.
- Blindspots galore – perhaps this is common to most convertibles, but I felt like the blindspots on this car were particularly large and concerning compared to what I’m accustomed to, even with my mirrors properly adjusted. I guess that’s another argument in favor of leaving the top down at all times.
- Curb weight – given the nice performance of the engine, I could only imagine how much quicker it would be if the car weren’t so bulky and overweight. My A4 weights 3,549 lbs and the Camaro weights 3,700 lbs, given the A4 is a sedan and the Camaro is a two-door, you’d think the sedan shouldn’t be 150 lbs lighter would you?
Overall, my impression is that the Camaro would made a great weekend date, but not a long term relationship – I would be hesitant to buy the car and own it long term, mostly due to the interior, but it was a nice car for vacation.
My biggest gripe is still the retro-chic design of the interior – I can’t imagine how old & gimmicky it will look 5 or even 10 years from now, much like a tattoo you sorely regret getting. As the Camaro “grows up” it needs to mature in its design as well – with a proper interior and some additional sound dampening, I think this car could be a really nice vehicle for daily use. Without those refinements, I think the Camaro will be viewed as a novelty not taken serious by car buyers looking for a convertible that they’ll want to own for an extended period of time.
…with all that being said, I’d rent it again in a heartbeat!