2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Review – by Performax International
Location: Lakeside Raceway, Queensland.
Model Tested: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS - $135,000
It’s been a while since I've had to set my alarm for 5.00am, but when you have an invite to pair up with a couple of motor racing heroes like Kevin (KB) Bartlett and rising V8 Supercar star Lee Holdsworth for a few hot laps around Lakeside in a spanking new 2010 Chevy Camaro SS, that’s exactly what you do.
I’ve always had a thing for US muscle cars, especially performance editions from either the Corvette or Camaro model range. It’s about good old-fashioned US patriotism and heritage, and these two iconic nameplates have truckloads of both.
Chevrolet released the Camaro in 1966 and while sales of 235,147 cars still trailed that of the Ford Mustang, the Camaro was easily the popular choice for the motoring enthusiast.
Re-birthed as ‘Bumblebee’ in the 2009 blockbuster movie ‘Transformers’, the new Camaro SS with its 6.2-litre all- aluminium V8 donk, is still very much positioned within the muscle car category.
Sitting on the tarmac at Lakeside are two immaculately prepared Camaro SS cars, which have been made available to a small group of the motoring press by Queensland based Performax International, for a proper evaluation on track.
After spending time with company bosses Greg Waters and Brian Learoyd, it doesn’t take very long to work out that Australia’s leading independent importer of American cars is a thoroughly professional outfit with excellent credentials.
With over 20 years of experience in Right Hand Drive engineering, converting literally thousands of American made vehicles, these guys have an encyclopaedic knowledge when it comes to conversions of brand new cars.
I’ve known the hard charging ‘KB’ for near enough to 18 years, and apart from his legendary roll over in the Channel Nine Camaro during the 1982 Bathurst 1000, he was also regarded by many 'in the know' as a guru when it came to preparing race cars.
He’s also not big on small talk and has a tendency to tell it how it is, 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth' sort of thing. So when KB came in after several laps in the car with a smile on his face and said, “it’s a great piece of gear and the right hand drive conversion has been done absolutely without compromise” you can assume that Performax have got it right.
And he’s spot on. From the moment you get behind the wheel of the Performax Camaro 2SS, it’s a total quality experience.
You’d be hard pressed to ever pick this car didn’t come straight off the assembly line in Oshawa Ontario, such is the impeccable engineering with this conversion.
It’s an impressive looking car from any angle, and one of the few modern-retro designs that delivers the goods.
It's pretty well loaded too, and comes with a substantial list of standard kit including; leather heated seats with driver’s six-way power adjustment, Bluetooth, Boston Acoustic 245 Watt audio system with nine-speakers and USB input, along with six airbags.
Fire up the 426 horsepower (318 kW) LS3 engine and it makes all the right noises, but without sounding anything less than the refined powerplant it is.
I’ve never driven at Lakeside, so Lee Holdsworth has kindly offered to show me the line around the track.
Mind you, we won’t be doing any racing today, as several chicanes have been put in place on the circuit to curb any sudden bursts of enthusiasm by drivers of the press corps. This is more a test drive in a safe environment rather than an opportunity to hone one's track skills.
Although, I doubt Lee got quite the same instructions, as coming into turn one off the main straight, and the Camaro is well and truly ‘into it’ before powering through the first chicane.
The first thing you notice about the car, apart from the line I should be taking through the various corners, is the complete and utter absence a single rattle or creak. It’s very well screwed together, no question.
The second thing that stands out, is how comfortable the Camaro is, and I don’t mean how well the seats are padded, which that they are.
Admittedly, we’re on some good quality tarmac here, but even so, you can feel the compliance in the suspension and the ride quality seems like a good balance between sports performance and everyday driveability despite riding on large 20-inch rims.
It’s also a very well sorted chassis with what feels like good weight balance and excellent grip through the corners. There’s a little body roll through the chicanes if you’re on the pace, but no more so than you would expect from a car weighing in at 1755 kilograms.
Now it’s my turn to steer and Lee to ride shotgun. It’s not often you get the chance for some one-on-one driving instruction at Lakeside, with a super talented V8 Supercar driver and genuinely nice bloke.
I’m driving the six-speed manual edition Camaro 2SS and the ratios are quite tall with little need for any gear higher than fourth during today’s session.
I’ve got too much throttle into turn one, but even so, the Camaro has loads of grip from the Pirelli PZero 275/40 tyres, and there is no absolutely no tyre squeal at this stage.
Turn-in is also impressive for a big car and I’m surprised how quickly it hammers through the corners and stays on line.
The only thing not perfect on this lap is I, not wide enough in the second part of the double apex, but the car seems unruffled.
I would reckon this particular ‘bumble bee’ coloured Camaro has been non-stop for about 40 laps, and yet there isn’t a hint of fade from the four-pot Brembos mounted on all four corners.
I also like the driving position, you’re sitting deep into the car, but there’s still plenty of forward vision, so no problem in placing the car exactly where it needs to be on turn in.
Charging down the main straight at full throttle and there’s a superb V8 supercar like exhaust note that’s fits perfectly with the Camaro’s muscle car character.
Steeping out of the car and watching KB and Lee on the charge, and the car looks a treat. It’s got massive road presence, which is underpinned by Australia’s best right hand drive engineering company.
I’m back riding shotgun again, but this time the chicanes have been removed and Lee is taking full advantage of a clean track, as the pace has just got a whole lot quicker.
If I was offering praise up to the Camaro previously, now I’m prepared to shower it with the stuff.
The more he pushes it, there is still no loss of traction or any sign of tyre squeal. The chassis seems better than ever and again, the brakes seem impervious to fade.
Lee agrees, he too seems impressed with how the Camaro is handling the pace through the corners, but always with excellent road manners.
I know we’re here to review the Camaro, but sitting over near the garage all on its own, is what I rate as one of the world’s most accomplished supercars, the monster powered and wickedly quick, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
It’s powered by a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 with an exceptional power to weight ratio. That’s 620 horsepower (422 kW) and a mind warping 805 Nm of torque.
I’ve taken enough shots of the car, the carbon fibre aero bits in all the right places and some of largest brake calipers I’ve ever seen.
Performax International have prepared this 200 mph rocket for some very lucky Australian buyer, but not before I beg for a quick run down the straight with the boss himself.
Its been a while since we tested the stupidly quick Bugatti Veyron in France, but the moment Greg Waters buried the throttle in the ZR1, I may as well have been in the Veyron at full tilt.
Even better, he wasn’t slowing down for turn one, well, just a quick dab on the brakes and he’s back on the throttle for yet another bout of nausea.
I’d heard from colleagues in America that the ZR1 goes around corners as well as anything from Europe, and I can tell you, they’re 100 percent on the money.
This thing annihilates anything resembling a bend and barely slowing for the chicanes, and that’s straight out of the box.
Now I understand why a convoy of slightly lessor powered ZO6s won their class at Le Mans last year, unchallenged.
Performax International and their 40 dedicated employees have worked hard to carve out their own niche in Australia, so its little wonder that they already have 10 deposits and another 12 interested customers for the Camaro 2SS.