Those who thought rearward visibility of the coupe couldn't get any worse need only to throw the convertible into Reverse with the top up to see just how wrong they were. The infamously lengthy C pillars of the hard top have somehow swollen in the convertible, and while the back glass looks large enough, its angle and height make for a narrow field of view.
GM equipped this particular SS-branded beast with a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 engine with 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The duo is the most desirable engine and gearbox combination available and is borrowed straight from the coupe. There are some mechanical differences between the two, however. Engineers added additional bracing in four key areas to give the Convertible as much of the rigid feel of the coupe as possible. A sturdy aluminum strut tower brace, a transmission support reinforcement brace, an underbody tunnel brace and front and rear underbody V braces are all tacked in place to combat torsional flex. The company says that all of the work helps give the Camaro Convertible the same stiffness as the BMW 3 Series convertible.
While we didn't have the pleasure of putting a 335i Convertible through its paces against the big Bow Tie (probably a good thing), we will say that the engineering work paid off. Typically, wrenching the roof off a coupe leads to dreaded cowl and column shake as the chassis contorts over rough road surfaces. The typical engineering response is to soften the springs and dampers to the point that the effects are less pronounced. GM is proud to remind us that the Camaro Convertible uses the exact same spring and damper rates as the hard top, which results in an incredibly similar driving experience. Under most normal circumstances, there's little telling the two apart. Only under some serious thrashing did we notice even a hint of column shake during a deeply-cambered downhill right – a situation that the vast majority of Camaro Convertible buyers will never find themselves in.
While the standard Camaro is no great pantheon of handling, the fact that its large, topless sibling can come close to matching pace is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the convertible is lugging around a substantially larger curb weight, which colors the driving experience accordingly. According to GM, the Camaro SS Convertible tips the scales at 4,116 pounds in our tester's spec. That's a full 267 pounds heavier than the SS Coupe, with most of that weight lodged over the rear axle. As a result, acceleration feels somewhat dulled even though GM claims that the vehicle can get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds – two-tenths of a seconds slower than the hard top. The convertible simply feels heavy to drive, with braking, cornering and straight-line grunt all taking a hit.
But the Camaro Convertible does well as a comfortable cruiser and there's no denying how good it looks cruising through town or rolling down a deserted highway at dusk. The optional high-intensity discharge headlights of the RS package on our tester are appropriately threatening with their halo ring and the long, lunging hood is unmistakably Muscle. With an as-tested MSRP of $42,995 including the $850 destination fee, the exterior was covered in a black vinyl stripe package, while the loud orange interior accent package rang up an additional $500, with another $1,200 for the RS package.
GM doesn't seem to be trying to convince anyone that the figure is a small price. In fact, the company calls the BMW 3 Series convertible its chief competitor instead of the Ford Mustang GT Convertible. The latter will cost you $38,310 plus destination for a GT Premium Convertible while the German commands a lofty $46,450 plus destination for the significantly less powerful 328i Convertible.
So where does that put the Camaro SS Convertible? Buyers seeking the near irresistible nostalgia of the coupe combined with the joy of being able to put the top down will find exactly what they're looking for. It easily trades its performance credentials for cruising machismo, and in a machine like this, that's no slight.