2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Road Test Review

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Some cars were simply meant to be convertibles. And frankly, any car as curvaceous as the new Chevrolet Camaro absolutely screams to be seen topless. Happily, Chevrolet's engineers knew what they were working with when they designed the car, and designed the Camaro from the onset with convertible-ism-ing in mind.

Unfortunately, they didn't have bankruptcy in mind when the car was designed though. So we had to wait a few years after the 2008 introduction for a folding roof to admit the light of day into the Camaro's interior. Things change though, the wait is over, the sun is shining, and the Camaro convertible is here to play. And, it is one good-looking car.

As the Camaro convertible is available with both the 312-horspower, 3.6-litre V6 and the 426-horsepower, 6.2-litre V8, you can have yours as mild or as wild as your proclivities demand. Chevy's six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, though you can also avail yourself of a six-speed automatic. Be apprised though, if you decide automatic in an SS you'll incur a 26 horsepower penalty. Chevy installs a 400-horsepower version of the 6.2-liter V8 with the automatic.

Our test car was the 426-horsepower SS model with the six-speed manual, and few things in automotive life are as satisfying as relishing the bubbly burble of a powerful V8's overrun reverberating off canyon walls in an open car. Headily intoxicating, you'll find yourself driving way out of your way to hear it again and again and again. The Camaro SS convertible is both huge fun to drive and viscerally stimulating as well.

Raising and lowering the top is the epitome of simplicity. One simply rotates the centre latch located on the windshield header just above the rearview mirror and depresses the button with the picture of the car with the top down. The windows drop and about 20 seconds later (yeah, it's a bit on the slow side) you'll be welcoming Ra.

When it's time to put the top back up, simply repeat the process-but be prepared to wait about 10 seconds longer. Yes, that beauty comes with a price, and the price is quickness. Also, it would have been much better if the button had been placed down on the centre console. Waiting for the top to complete its cycle can be somewhat tiring when you're reaching up for so long to press and hold the button.

The top folds in a "Z" pattern, so when it's down, the inside of the roof is protected. Thanks to this, you can forego the tonneau cover Chevrolet offers as an option. We absolutely recommend doing so, as it is a pain in the asterisk to install and remove. Plus, when it isn't in use, storing it takes up space in the already compromised trunk. The engineers had to make the top go somewhere when it is lowered, and that somewhere is in the top half of the Camaro's smallish trunk.

A window shade-like vinyl panel pulls out to separate the top from the cargo in the trunk. Retractable, it frees up the rest of the trunk when you need to carry larger items with the top raised. Just make sure it's pulled out before you try to lower the top, otherwise the top won't move.

Deployed, the roof looks really nice on the car. The design accentuates the Camaro's broad hipline and to a lot of people (ourselves included) the convertible looks better than the coupe with the top up or down. The top is nicely finished too. Inside the Camaro convertible with the top raised, looking at it, one is hard-pressed to tell they're in a convertible. Visibility to the rear is mildly compromised with the top up, but the side view mirrors are easily adjusted to make up for the blind spots created by the roof.

Chevrolet's design team specified a thick headliner material to keep road and wind noise somewhat at bay. We say somewhat, as the convertible's decibel count on the move will never allow it to be mistaken for the coupe, which is decidedly (and understandably) quieter. A heated glass rear window is part of the package as well. A real win for the engineering team is the clever placement of the radio antenna. To keep the Camaro convertible's lines as clean as possible, you'll find the radio antenna in the rear spoiler on cars equipped with one. Otherwise, it's mounted on the deck lid in a shark fin.

Underway, the chassis flex endemic to so many convertibles is noticeably absent from the Camaro. As we mentioned before, the car was designed from the onset with a convertible version in mind. You'll experience good structural rigidity and the Camaro convertible handles just as well as its coupe counterpart. Often, engineers will specify a softer suspension calibration for a convertible to keep rigidity from becoming an issue. According to Chevrolet's spokespeople, the suspension components and calibrations of the Camaro convertible are exactly the same as the coupe.

All in all, it was well worth the wait.

Pricing for the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible starts at $35,445. The SS convertible starts at $44,705.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Chevrolet, 2011, Camaro SS Convertible, $40,000 - $49,999,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page