From the moment the 2010 Camaro was conceived, Chevy had every intention of recreating an iconic look that spans all ages and demographics. The aesthetics were every bit as important as the functionality of the two-door sports car. It stands to reason, given first- and second-generation Camaros are still some of the most popular and sought after muscle cars, despite the level of performance and quality GM has mastered in its latest creations. It was so important that Chevy spent more time developing the fifth-gen's shapely body than possibly any other model in the modern era. The Bowtie boys even assembled a group of 15 consumers or "disciples" to weigh in on what a Camaro should and should not be, and went to people's homes to get an even more diverse set of opinions. GM even listened to the Ford and Mopar faithful discuss their lifestyle and the type of car they would like to buy. So as the result, after the concept had finally been developed, displayed, evaluated, and approved by the boys upstairs, the engineers were forced to dedicate themselves to changing as little as possible while still creating a strong chassis capable of meeting the 5-Star Safety Rating, a comfortable interior that looks and feels like a much more expensive car, and the overall performance to which the Camaro name has become synonymous.
Chassis and Suspension
First, the bad news: with a belt line that starts at 3,741 to 3,750 pounds for V-6 models and goes all the way up to 3,860 to 3,913 for V-8s, the new Camaro is no featherweight. Its steel body, frame, and 190.4-inch length by 75.5-inch width dimensions are mostly to blame, though increasing safety standards also played a part. The up side is that "F-bodfather" Scott Settlemire assures us that the 2010 Camaro will meet the 5-Star Safety Rating, the body panels will prove durable and strong, and shutting the doors will feel "vault-like"-indicative of a sturdy, well-built car. Thankfully the weight is spread throughout a 112.3-inch wheelbase for an impressively balanced 52/48 (front/rear) distribution.
The Camaro will also attempt to hide that weight with a carefully tuned suspension that employs what GM calls a "multi-link strut" setup up front with a "direct-acting stabilizer bar," double-ball joint, and progressive-rate coil springs. This arrangement is similar to the Pontiac G8, which was built upon an older generation of the Global Rear Wheel Drive platform (Zeta I), except the front axle has been moved forward to fit the Camaro's already established body lines and the chassis has been stiffened considerably (making it sometimes referred to as Zeta II). Good news for autocrossers and road racers: caster, camber, and toe angle are fully adjustable.
The rear suspension is unique to the Camaro and has been dubbed a "4.5-link independent" arrangement, also making use of progressive-rate coilover shocks and a stabilizer bar. While the lower control arm is a traditional wishbone style, the upper control arm uses an innovative L-shape for both lateral and longitudinal ride control instead of the extra "5th link." This was crucial in meeting GM's design goals for reducing unsprung mass, according to GM Vehicle Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser, as well as overall performance and cost effectiveness. Camber and toe angle are adjustable, thanks to the lower control arm and toe link, which has an optimized dampening rate on both the FE2 (LS and LT) and FE3 (SS) suspension. Besides the toe link durometer and bushing rate, the FE3's lowered ride height also differs from the FE2, which are both designed to be quite evident at the Camaro's limits in Competitive Driving Mode. The IRS is also double-isolated from the chassis for a smooth and quiet ride. A mere 2.5 turns lock-to-lock will prevent you from having to saw at the wheel excessively, while hitting a 37.7-foot turning circle thanks to the variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering. The rack is located forward of the (front) axle to enhance driver feedback via a more direct action, eliminating the numb steering effect typical of late-model muscle.
Though the Independent Rear Suspension does bear some resemblance to the GTO's and CTS-V's units, it is more closely related to the Pontiac G8 and GM assures us it is a much stronger piece designed with the knowledge of its future dragstrip abuse. A limited-slip differential is housed in an aluminum case, which is isolated from the frame at three points with rubber bushings for a smooth ride. Meanwhile staggered diameter halfshafts are used to eliminate wheel hop. The lower control arms are a wishbone-style, to which the coilovers mount, and the upper control arms have an L-shape to save unsprung mass. Adjustments to the toe angle are made through the toe link, and the camber is tweaked through the lower control arms. The trailing link controls longitudinal movement during acceleration and hard braking, while the stabilizer bar modulates body roll.