Speaking on the sidelines of the New York auto show, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the drivetrain under consideration for the Camaro is the same high-performance one used in the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters. It’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder rated at 260 hp. Lutz said that if fuel prices continue to climb, the four-cylinder Camaro could see production.
GM has said it plans V-8 and V-6 versions of the Camaro but otherwise has been secretive. Lutz confirmed to Automotive News that the V-6 version of the Camaro will be powered by the same high-tech V-6 used in the Cadillac CTS. It’s a direct-injected, 3.6-liter four-cam V-6. In the CTS, the engine is rated at 304 hp.
Low-priced version dropped
In the Camaro, the 3.6 liter’s horsepower should be around 260, Lutz said, Fuel economy, he said, will be around 17 mpg city and 25 highway. That would place the V-6 Camaro among best in class for a performance car.
Lutz said GM has dropped plans to offer a low-priced, entry-level Camaro with one of GM’s low-tech V-6s. GM will position both the V-6 and V-8 versions of the Camaro as premium cars compared to the Camaro’s chief rival, the Ford Mustang.
The base model Mustang uses a 4.0-liter overhead-cam V-6 rated at 210 hp. The base model Dodge Challenger, due in the fall, will use a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6.
Most enthusiast attention has focused on the Camaro’s V-8 engine, which is likely to be a 6.0-liter with about 400 hp. Lutz said the V-8 will have a cylinder cutoff system that shuts down half the engine when the car reaches cruising speed. That will help it get better fuel economy.
But Lutz said he thinks most buyers will opt for the V-6 because the performance will be strong, especially when the engine is combined with a manual transmission.
“Back in the old days, if you wanted a muscle car, to get a decent one, you had to buy the V-8,” Lutz said. “And if you bought the V-6, you got a fairly rough, unrefined pushrod engine with low horsepower and weasely performance.
“This time, the V-6 is 260-odd horsepower, four overhead cams, very smooth and decent 0-to-60-mph times. And now the V-6 is in its own right a very fast, very legitimate car.”
We are going to be above Mustang”
Lutz said that with the V-6, the Camaro achieves a nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution: “With the V-6, it is not a heavy car. The Camaro will be a very lively and engaging car,” he said.
Lutz would not talk specifically about the Camaro’s pricing. The car is scheduled to go on sale next February as a 2009 model, but Lutz did say GM views the Camaro as better equipped than the Mustang, and the price will be higher.
The Mustang V-6 coupe has a base price of $20,235. The V-8 GT coupe begins at $26,825. Both prices include shipping.
“We are going to be above Mustang,” Lutz said. “We have a very sophisticated suspension system and, frankly, a much nicer interior. We are not going to try and match the Mustang on price. We are going to be premium-priced compared to the Mustang.”