Driven: The Look-At-Me Chevrolet Camaro RS

By Seyth Miersma

July 07, 2009

In our new Third Look series, the Winding Road staff will take another, more focused view of cars that have already been through our wheelhouse. Though Driven reviews, comparison tests, and our Ask It section in the Forums are all instructive, multiple chances to drive a particular vehicle always yield new, sometimes subtle impressions. In Third Look, we’ll try to highlight these and bring to light some thoughts we might not have had the first time around.

Case in point is the Camaro RS that we had the opportunity to test over the Forth of July holiday weekend. As a staff, we’ve had ample opportunity to test the 2010 Camaro, in both V-6 and V-8 varieties (read what Rex Roy had to say, here). But there was something especially compelling about driving the new American icon during the most patriotic of holidays.

The Camaro, suitably screaming in its Rally Yellow paint, didn’t go unnoticed anywhere we went in it. That’s an understatement really—the car was kind of a traveling sideshow. Sure, the confluence of it’s starring role in the new Transformers movie, the fact that we were traveling through the muscle-car loving American Midwest, and the high-profile nature of the Camaro nameplate all helped to encourage this attentive blitz, but it does seem as if Chevy sipped a bit from the “new hotness” well. We’re not ready to call the Camaro anything like lovely just yet, but there’s no mistaking the visual punch that the low, hard-edged styling delivers. It’s an impressive translation from the hugely well-received concept car, and one that hasn’t seemed to suffer from the long gestation period from concept to saleable model.

After the ink was dry on the first round of Camaro reviews, it was pretty clear that the bulk of the motoring press found the car’s interior treatment to be largely lacking in quality. That same critical view wasn’t held by the members of the public that we let paw through the yellow RS. By and large they seemed to find the confines friendly, with older gentleman commenting that the car seemed like one that would be, “very nice to ride around in.” Fair enough. We’ll maintain that the same cabin might not hold up so well to scrutiny after a year of use—time will tell.

In all, the Camaro seems to have the makings of, a sensation somewhere in the league of the New Beetle or the PT Cruiser, but with more legs because of the model’s longstanding popularity in this country. That’s good, that’s a start. We’re hopeful that the fact that Camaro is also a (borderline) proper sports car in this iteration, especially in the V-6 powered RS specification, means that it will have legs amongst driving enthusiasts as well. There are major hurdles in the form of poor visibility and poor overall feedback to overcome, but we think the low price point, huge power, and well-judged suspension should help make the case. And, well, just look at it—everyone else is.