Yes, two six-speeds will be offered with the V-6 (and, by the way, the V-8): an Aisin manual and a HydroMatic automatic with wheel-mounted manual shift buttons (the V-8 manual will be a Tremec unit). All base Camaros will be equipped with an FE2 suspension package, though chief engineer Doug Houlihan says Chevy is "considering" adding, as an option, the uprated FE3 suspension that'll be standard on V-8 cars. Base tires are 245/55R18 M+S BFGoodrich Traction T/As on 18-in. alloys; optional rubber will include 19- and 20-in. Pirellis (the latter available in summer or snow versions) plus an available 21-in. wheel-and-tire upgrade (summer only). Brakes are single-piston calipers all around, with cast-iron rotors (12.6 in.) up front and aluminum discs (12.4 in.) in back. (All Camaro V-8s will sport bigger, four-piston Brembo binders and a larger master cylinder for improved brake feel.) An optional RS package will include the 20-in. rims plus HID headlamps, a rear spoiler, and door-sill trim, among other upgrades.
Inside, the 2010 Camaro recalls the flavor of the '67 model that inspired it -- squarish primary instruments plus a rectangular four-pack of secondary gauges in the center console -- but it's far too stylish and modern to appear "retro." A thick, deep-dish steering wheel is unique to the new Camaro, another reminder of project cash well-dispensed. Seats will be trimmed in cloth or optional leather; one gripe, as on the Pontiac G8, is the lack of a power backrest adjustment (on the Camaro it's a manual ratchet). The wheel is a tilt-telescoping model, which in combo with the smartly placed pedals helps deliver a near-ideal driving position.
Buckle up, because the new Camaro runs like a cheetah escaping the zoo. The engine twirls for the 7000-rpm redline as if were born to live there, but at cruise it withdraws, like a fine personal valet, almost into invisibility. The high-pitched exhaust note is decidedly non-musclecar; it almost says "Asian tuner car." Houlihan admits that engineers are still tweaking the sound, though. The production car will likely emit a more baritone growl. Or not. Prepare to be surprised.
Chevy is currently recording 0-to-60-mph sprints of about 6.1 sec or so, but the goal is to break the six-second barrier. Give us a car, guys. We'll get you the 5.9-sec run you're after. Top speed, by the way, is an electronically limited 155 mph. Yes, with the V-6. Both transmissions are superb, the automatic responding quickly to shift-button commands and the manual smooth and slick (pedals are well-placed for heel-and-toe downshifts).
When outfitted with 18-in. wheels and tires and the V-6, the Camaro may wear a "base car" label, but you'd never know it by the drive. The hydraulic power steering delivers excellent feel, with deft off-center response and plenty of mid-corner feedback. The chassis, boasting a Mustang-crushing independent rear, powers through bends with a level of grip that simply obliterates any "base car" notions. Even pushed as hard as you'd dare on public roads, the Goodriches rarely protest or slip, instead digging in and doing their best to pry your eyeballs from your skull. Stability control steps in only mildly, catching minor missteps (ooohh, that corner was just a bit tighter than expected) without quashing useful dabs of oversteer. Body rigidity is exemplary, too. The Mustang can only dream of delivering handling at this level of performance and sophistication.
With moves like this in the entry Camaro - base price in the mid-to-low $20s - it's drool-inspiring to imagine what the car will do with, say, the optional 20-in. summer rubber (not to mention the mega-output V-8s with FE3 chassis tuning). What's more, even in "stripped" form the Camaro feels distinctly upmarket. Wind noise is almost nonexistent. The ride polishes off road imperfections while remaining poised to spring, catlike, to quick steering inputs. Brakes are sturdy and bite hard early into the pedal's travel. Mustang? Nah. The new Camaro feels more akin to an American Infiniti G37. And remember: Thus far, our driving has been limited to the base V-6 version.
In an era when "mega-ultra-hyped blockbuster" often means "I wasted my money on that?" the new Chevy Camaro pushes back against unfulfilled expectations. It delivers. The look is there. The performance is there. The value is there.