Each and every year, Motor Trend hosts their Car of the Year program, where they gather all of the best new or significantly updated cars for the current model year. They then put the cars through a battery of tests, including real-world driving courses, track driving and test the cars’ efficiency. All of this is to determine which car is the best overall new car on the market. Quite a lot goes into this test. It isn’t just which car is the fastest or which performs better or which is the most economical. The car that combines a quality performance in every single category wins.
This year, there were quite a lot of excellent cars invited to the test, including a couple of BMWs (340i and 7 Series). Some of the other contenders included the excellent new Audi TT and A6, Mazda’s fantastic new MX-5 Miata, Chevy’s new Camaro and the absolutely stunning Mercedes-AMG GT. So there’s quite a lot of excitement going on in this test. You can make an argument for a few of these cars taking the COTY honors. The new 7 Series is the pinnacle of luxury performance and technology in its segment and packs innovative new technology, including an Adaptive drive setting and Gesture Control. The Audi A6 is an excellent do-it-all luxury car with some serious performance chops at a good price. The new MX-5 is probably the best smiles-per-dollar deal on the market and the Mercedes-AMG GT is just fantastic in nearly every possible way. But none of those four cars took MT’s COTY award.
That’s right, Motor Trend’s Car of the Year is…The Chevrolet Camaro.
This came as a shock. Honestly. I could have never imagined the Camaro taking any sort of award. I’ll admit, today’s GM is far different form the GM from even just a few years ago. Some of the cars coming out of Detroit are far better than originally anticipated. But Car of the Year? That’s truly shocking.
The new Camaro is built on GM’s new rear-wheel drive Alpha platform, the very same platform that underpins the Cadillac ATS and CTS, two cars that are very good. So it’s no surprise that the new Camaro is pretty good to drive. But Motor Trend is claiming this to be one of the best driving cars in the world. I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that.
The reason I, as well as many others, am so shocked is that the previous Camaro was absolutely awful to drive. It wasn’t that it was only okay, it was quite bad, actually. It was sloppy, heavy, slow, it understeered and it just felt wooden and cheap. Not to mention the sight lines were awful, thanks to the high beltline and massive A-Pillars, and the interior was as if Fisher Price had built it. It was a truly poor attempt at performance. So it’s hard to imagine this new one being as fantastic as MT says it is. Here are some of the things MT said about it.
“We were talking about future Camaro comparison tests against BMWs, Audis, and AMGs. I’d even throw Porsche into that mix,” said Johnny Lieberman.
“A revelation. Absolutely world-class sports car performance and dynamics from an American icon. The new Camaro is one of the finest driver’s cars in the world. And that’s before you even talk about the price,” said Angus MacKenzie.
One of the finest driver’s cars in the world, says MT. That’s a big statement, especially considering the state of performance cars today. Now, let me get one thing clear, I’m in no way saying that Motor Trend is wrong or that I don’t necessarily believe them, but it is quite a shock to believe that the ugly-duckling Camaro turned into a beautiful swan overnight. I can now imagine the same feeling people felt when Galileo told people that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
If this is true, and the new Camaro is truly the special performance car it’s being claimed to be, than BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz had better look out. The V8 Camaro SS starts life at around $37,000. That’s $4,000 cheaper than the four-cylinder 428i. To get similar performance from BMW, you’d have to step up to the 435i which would set you back, after taxes and destination, about $50,000. That’s a mighty big difference in price to have similar performance. Obviously, the 435i will be a bit sharper and much more luxurious. But if performance is all you’re after, and the new Camaro is as good as advertised, then it will be hard to ignore the big Chevy.