It might sound a bit odd to compare a Chevy Camaro to a proper BMW M car, but to be honest the Chevy Camaro has been getting pretty good lately and can properly take on the best from BMW. Some might even say that the Camaro SS is better than the BMW M4. But what about BMW’s best M car, the BMW M2? How does the comparable Chevy Camaro stack up?
In this latest video from Motor Trend, they compare the Camaro V6 1LE vs the BMW M2 to see which is the better six-cylinder, rear-wheel drive, manual sports car.
If you aren’t up on GM lingo, the 1LE package for the Chevy Camaro V6 gives it better brakes, sportier suspension, stickier tires and a loud exhaust button. In a nutshell, it’s the one you want. And before you shun the idea of a V6 Camaro taking of a BMW M car, know that this Camaro can hang. Packing a 3.6 liter naturally-aspirated V6, the Camaro 1LE makes 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. With a six-speed manual, it can get from 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds. That’s pretty damn good for $38,000.
On the other side is the BMW M2, which uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine to make 365 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque on overboost. That makes it considerably more powerful than the Camaro and it shows, as a manual M2 can get from 0-60 mph in around 4.2 seconds. Although, to get an M2 you need to shell out considerably more money as well, to the tune of around $55,000. So it’s about $17,000 more than the Camaro, for you math nerds, which is a lot of money. For the price of an M2, you can get the Chevy Camaro V6 1LE spend the extra $17k on a vacation to Capri, or maybe a shiny new Rolex Submariner or, like, two alpacas. It’s up to you but you can get a lot for $17,000 is what I’m getting at.
So how do they perform back-to-back, these two cars? Well, it mostly goes the BMW M2’s way. Spoiler alert.
The Camaro V6 1LE is actually a really good car but it does have some flaws. First of all, it’s massive. It’s like a small island compared to the M2, which seems dainty by comparison. The problem is that it doesn’t seem big from the inside. It’s cramped and almost impossible to see out of, making it difficult to place on the road. Say what you want about BMW but the Bavarians pride themselves on getting the little things right, like proper sight lines (though the M2’s driver seat is a bit crooked…shhhh).
The engine is also good, and makes a good noise, but it can’t match the M2’s silky smoothness or waves of torque. It’s so much more powerful and its powerband is broader, so it just surges along while the Camaro’s V6 needs its nuts revved off before it makes its power and no one likes that, save for maybe a small portion of people the internet. The M2 is also the more nimble car and easier to chuck around.
MT’s Jason Cammisa also makes a good point. While the M2 is great up to 8/10ths and sort of gets a bit sloppy at 10/10ths, it comes alive at 11/10ths. And no, that’s not some Spinal Tap reference but simply claiming that when you push the M2 past its limits, getting it to slide around, it’s flipping brilliant. It’s such an easy car to slide that it makes being a hooligan fun and easy, almost safe even. It’s BMW M at its best. So while the Camaro V6 1LE is a good driver’s car and a great value, it’s just not as good as the BMW M2. Oh, and the M2 spanked the Camaro on the track.