Chevrolet kicked off its 2015 Innovation Day here in Detroit by unveiling the drop-top companion to the all-new sixth-generation Camaro that we first saw just over a month ago. Frankly, there aren’t many real surprises here but at first glace, Chevrolet seems to have done a much better job on execution than the last car. Like the outgoing edition and its chief competitor for Dearborn, this one gets a power retracting fabric top that slips into a cavity behind the rear seats but it does seem to outdo the competition in several respects.
Like the new-generation Mustang convertible, the new Camaro gets a multi-layer fabric roof with acoustic linings that should make for a more refined drive with the top up. However, Chevrolet has gone above and beyond Ford in several ways with the Camaro.
While Mustang drivers still need to manually release a central latch at the windshield header before pressing the button that opens the skies, the Camaro top is now fully automatic including the latches. That provides several benefits starting with the ability to drop the top using the key fob as you walk up to the car.
Camaro convertible drivers can also raise or lower the top at speeds up to 30 mph whereas Mustang drivers have to slow down to below 4 mph before they can move the top. While Ford did a really nice job designing a top that folds almost flat and looks good even without snapping in the two end caps, Chevrolet has gone further. The Camaro drop top has a hard tonneau that automatically moves out of the way and then back into place. The result is a very nicely finished appearance that is far better than any previous Camaro while preserving the muscular lines of the new coupe.
Another interesting difference from Mustang is the decision to retain an electrohydraulic drive mechanism for the top rather than use a fully electric drive like the Ford. The electric drive is quieter, lighter and faster than the hydraulic system it replaced. Chief engineer Al Oppenheiser explained that the system which is produced by Magna CTS is a scaled up version of the system used on the Opel/Buick Cascada and will actually operate faster than the 20-second cycle time of the current Camaro.
The new Camaro convertible will be available with the same powertrain lineup of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 3.6-liter V6 or 6.2-liter V8 as the coupe along with either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions. The convertible will go in sale in the first quarter of 2016.