When I was just a tike, every Volkswagen Beetle I saw was a Herbie. It didn’t matter the colour, whether it was sedan or convertible, or even if said Beetle was missing the signature #53 atop the hood.
As I see original Beetles today, I’m always brought back to the Volkswagen character car Lindsay Lohan almost ruined. Thankfully the car had far superior acting ability, overshadowing the horribleness of TMZ’s favourite redheaded diva.
There’s now an entirely new generation of kids who grew up not knowing what life was before the Internet. They also don’t know Transformers originated in a place far removed from Michael Bay’s Hollywood explosionfests.
EVERY KID UNDER THE AGE OF TEN KNOWS BUMBLEBEE IS A CAMARO.
Bumblebee, too, was a Beetle during the formative years of Transformers. But, the current generation of children don’t know that. What they do know is Bumblebee is a Camaro.
EVERY KID UNDER THE AGE OF TEN KNOWS BUMBLEBEE IS A CAMARO.
And this, my friends, is the character car of a new generation of kids.
How do I know this? Try driving a Bright Yellow (official name of paint and oh-so descriptive) Camaro with black Indy stripes up the hood and down the trunk. Every child who sees it has the following reaction:
1) Stares in wonderment for somewhere between three to five seconds.
2) Mouths the word Bumblebee.
3) Grabs the hand of parent/grandparent/friend/whoever is close.
4) Points at the Camaro and says very loudly: “LOOK! BUMBLEBEE!”
5) Continues to aggressively point and shout “BUMBLEBEE! BUMBLEBEE!” over and over again.
6) Parents pull their kids away in utter shame because their offspring don’t know the real Bumblebee is a Beetle.
If you want to bring joy to the hearts of children under the age of 10 wherever you go, a yellow Camaro is the car to drive. You will not get a stronger reaction out of the rug rats with any other mode of transport. I’m sure they wouldn’t even bat an eye at a hoverboard (though we would go ape if someone swooped by us Marty McFly-style).
But, this very-yellow Camaro SS Convertible will make you miserable. Let me explain.
When it comes to drop-top domestic muscle cars, you have two choices. You can have the Ford Mustang, with a V6 or V8 (and soon, as of 2015, with a blown four-pot), that’s been continually produced since 1964. Or, you can have the Chevrolet Camaro, also with a V6 or V8, enjoying steady sales since it was reintroduced in 2010 after a short hiatus since 2002.
From the outside, both cars exude a presence of power and feelings of “things were so much better in the olden days”. Both of them produce a symphony of V8 brutishness when the driver stomps on the loud pedal. And neither of them, at least until recently, could make their way around a corner.
Even from the inside, the Mustang and Camaro show off some seriously cheap looking pieces of plastic that could only originate in a bankrupt American city (though the Mustang is much better at hiding them).
It’s the driving experience – or lack thereof – that really sets the Camaro and Mustang apart.
Under the hood of our Camaro SS tester sits a 6.2L V8 L99 small-block producing 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque (the manual model makes 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque from the LS3 V8). On paper, that’s a fair amount of power, and definitely more than one might need. But, thanks to the six-speed automatic transmission, delivery of the power is lacklustre, void of all the theatrics usually provided by a V8.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a quick car. And, if you want something that’s truly fast, you can step up to a ZL1 or Z/28. But, there really should be a bit more to the SS Convertible than what there is.
If you dare take the Camaro SS Convertible on a road less travelled (and, by consequence, less maintained by our spectacular Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal here in Nova Scotia), you will feel absolutely every road imperfection. We aren’t talking about the Camaro throwing you up in the air as if you were a baby and letting you land in the arms of your favourite uncle. This is proper crash-bang levels of ride quality. It’s extremely stiff.
But it’s a sports car! It needs that stiffness for handling!
Unfortunately, the handling is nowhere to be found. Instead, you are left with a car that, at least in droptop form, weighs so much it conveys a sensation of being an exceptionally low half-ton pickup truck.
It’s not all bad though. As a weekend cruiser on nice roads, the Camaro SS Convertible is a pleasant drive. On smooth roads, the ride is great and wind noise is kept to a minimum when the roof is tucked behind the rear seats.
The built-in head-up display on the 2SS model tested has great features, such as a tachometer and a G-meter, great for trying to get that 'high score' as you wind through a few bendy bits of pavement. The seats, while not very adjustable, are still decently comfortable (the Mustang is better though). And it absolutely does look the business.
Yet, when all is said and done, it’s simply outclassed by the Mustang. I’m not talking about the new Mustang either.
I feel bad for all those kids who pointed at the car as I drove it around Halifax for a week. Now that they know Bumblebee exists in real life, it’s seared into their minds and they’ll be pining for a Camaro in their later years. After saving up their pennies nickels to finally afford a Camaro a bit larger than their 1/64th scale diecasts, they’ll be in for loads of dream-shattering disappointment.
Sorry kids. This time the answer was Decepticon.
As for me, I’ll be spending the next few weeks, trolling through autoTRADER.ca looking for the real Bumblebee. Anyone got an old Herbie?
Pricing: 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Base Price (1LT): $37,030
Base Price (2SS): $50,225
Options: $5,980 (6-Speed Automatic w/TAPshift – $1,765; RS Package – $1,380; Navigation w/ 7-inch Touch Screen – $795; Windscreen – $550; 20-inch Polished Aluminum Wheels – $540; Black Full-Length Dual Indy Stripes – $535; Bright Yellow Exterior Paint – $415)
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $57,955