EXPERT REVIEW

Orlando Sentinel's view

These are rough times for sports cars. High prices and changing tastes have flattened the market for sporty coupes and convertibles.

But Chevrolet has reacted to the changing market by beefing up the performance and improving the appearance of its V-6 Camaro without jacking up the car’s price extensively.

For those of you still toying with the notion of owning a sports car, Chevrolet has a very interesting lower-priced alternative to the thundering Camaro Z28: It’s the Camaro RS.

This version of Chevy’s pony car comes with a very potent 3.8-liter V-6 that gives the car a radically different personality.

PERFORMANCE, HANDLING

The engine in the Camaro RS churns out 200 horsepower and delivers such snappy performance you’ll think there’s a V-8 under the hood. Motor Trend magazine tested an RS with an automatic transmission and clocked a zero-to-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds. Our white test RS, outfitted with a five-speed manual transmission, probably was a few ticks quicker than the Motor Trend test car.

The powerful, smooth-running V-6 offered crisp performance at all speeds. The exhaust system even made a slight rumble when the engine was revved.

Chevy engineers made the five-speed manual transmission easy to shift. The clutch pedal is easy on the leg, and the stubby gear shift lever notches smoothly into each gear.

The V-6’s power comes on evenly and smoothly. The car is quick and responsive at low speeds and capable of breezing past slower traffic on the open road.

Overall, the 3.8-liter V-6 engine gives the Camaro the refined demeanor of an expensive import, such as the Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder.

With one small exception, handling also is another impressive characteristic of the Camaro RS. Our test car wore fat 16-inch tires, and they might have been what made the turning radius a bit too wide at 42.9 feet.

However, the steering wheel is firm, and the response from the power-assisted rack-and-pinion is tight, just like as sports car should be. Our RS came with power front disc/rear drum anti-lock brakes. Stopping power is excellent.

The ride is firm but not harsh. The suspension system – short/long arm with coil springs up front and a solid axle in the rear – makes for a very civilized ride.

The test car returned 27 mpg in combined city/

highway driving with the air conditioner in use.

FIT AND FINISH

The RS option adds a ground effects package that gives the car a more aggressive look. The problem is that the air dam under the front bumper is so close to the ground that it can be easily torn off.

I heard it scraping the pavement each time I drove up and down my driveway. Bump into a cement slab in a parking space and you’ll probably rip out the air dam. But the spoiler on the hatchback lid blends cleanly into the shape of the car.

Our test car was fully loaded. It came with power windows, mirrors and door locks, an alarm s ystem, CD player, cruise control and a power driver’s seat.

Because it rained constantly during the week I had the car, I was not able to raise and lower the power convertible top more than a few times. But I can tell you that it is an easy operation that takes no more than a minute or so.

The convertible roof of the Camaro RS convertible latches down tight; there were no wind or water leaks.

The seat upholstery, black with red inlays, gave the interior a sporty ambiance, but it seemed a little garish to some older passengers.

At $25,000 and change, the brawny-looking Camaro RS convertible is a fast, well-equipped and well-built machine.

It’s another winner from Chevrolet.

Specifications: Base price: $22,720 Safety: Dual air bags, anti-lock brakes, side-impact protection, front and rear crumple zones Price as tested: $25,427 Incentives: None EPA rating: 19 mpg city/30 high ay

Truett’s tip: Quick and fun to drive, the sporty-looking Camaro RS convertible is a comfortable, affordable, nicely styled sports car.

Latest news

audi-q5-e-2021-lincoln-corsair-gt-2021-01-blue-exterior-front-angle-grey-suv
2021 Audi Q5 Vs. 2021 Lincoln Corsair: Which Plug-in Hybrid Luxury SUV Should You Buy?
infiniti-qx55-2022-09-interior-rear-cargo-space-measurement
Which SUVs, Minivans and Sedans Have the Most Cargo Space?
genesis-gv80-2021-03-angle-dynamic-exterior-front-maroon.jpg
Genesis GV80: Which Should You Buy, 2022 or 2021?