Motor Trendcom March 2011 33

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2077 Chevrolet camaro convertible

then affix the optional tonneau cover and a folding wind deflector, the latter of which will forfeit the rear seats, both of which will take up space in the already downsized trunk.To make room for all the necessary roof parts, trunk space drops from 11.3 cubic feet in coupes to just 1C.2 in the convertibles. Fold the roof, and you're left with only 7.9 cubic feet of space. As in the old Cadillac XLR, a pull-out screen protects the soft roof fioiu youi caigo, wliiuh you can slash widei and arounci. the folded roof, after you get it through the same tiny trunk opening.

Putting the roof back up is a bit more of a chore. If you've got the tonneau cover in place, that's got to go back in the trunk. Then the roof needs to come up, and it's a much slower process in reverse; in our tests it took about 25 seconds to get the roof up and latched and the windows closed. Short traffic lights and heavy downpours will be your enemies. They certainly were ours Our early build tester arrived during what's been called the "storm of the decade" for Los Angeles and, naturally, the roof leaked in two places along the windshield header. As if that

wasn't enough, the rear window de-cided to dislodge itself from the soft top. Is this really the same top supplier that builds the Corvette Convertible's roof?

Such is the price of any convertible, if not typically so costly.The price you won't pay is in chassis rigidity. No, numbers people, it'3 not a3 rigid as the coupe and we never expected it to be. Chevrolet's engineers are eager to boast, however, that it is stiffer than d vaunted BMW 3 Series convertible.They have to disclose, of course, that it took more than little blue pills to get the job done.

The Camaro Convertible features new ^braces under the front and rear of the car, a new transmission brace, a new front shock tower brace, and a new sheer panel below the drive shaft. All the bracing, along with the various folding roof parts, adds some 253 pounds to the curb weight of an already hefty car. On the plus side, it does help shift the weight balance rearward slightly and closer to a 50/50 split.

Good news is the difference isn't noticeable from behind the wheel. The Camaro coupe always felt a bit too heavy going down the road, and we're happy to

■■Ml report the convertible isn't any worse. In fact. Chevrolet says it's been worldng on the Camaro's handling, and both the convertible and the coupe have revised damper settings for belter on-center feel and less understeer. Those damper changes don't do much :o affect the ride, which is still rather firm as befit3 a 3port3 car. To our fingers, the convertible's steering had a bit more heft and better communication with the tires than the last coupe we drove. It's jusL Lcjo bad you still have to feel it through that uncomfortable, overstyled steering wheel.

The real effects of the weight gain ar.d chassis modifications can be found on the track. Our V8-powered SS model hurled itself to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, 0.2 second slower than the last SS coupe we tested. The ragtop followed up with a 13.2-secor.d quarter-mile sprint at 109.2 mph, just behind the coupe, which did the deed in 13 1 seconds at 110.8 mph. Sixty-to-0 braking took just 107 feet, one foot shorter than the lighter coupe's 108-foot performance. On the slddpad,the convertible was able to pull 0.89 g, a bit worse than the coupe's 0.93 g, and ran through our figure-eight course in

TOP IT OFF One of the Camaro's weak spots is its overstyled steering wheel, but overall the convertible looks great and feels solid and well-planted.

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