The new 2021 Chevy Camaro brings with it the full breadth of its history, from the quarter-mile duels and Trans-Am racetrack victories of old to the modern crucibles of time attack and drifting. Originally designed and built to be the ultimate pony car, the Camaro has always brought with it a certain set of expectations.
All enthusiasts know it. Camaros are powerful, Camaros are affordable, and perhaps most of all, Camaros have attitude in spades. Subtlety was never what the Chevy was about, and that small but potent truth remains as factual as ever with the current 2021 Camaro. Come along and find out what this new vehicle brings to the party that few other vehicles ever have.
New Tech, Old Attitude
The sixth-gen Camaro is built on the brand new Alpha Platform, a backbone that lightens the new Camaro substantially. Weight is the enemy of performance is just about every equation, but it also increases wear and tear on the vehicle and tends to rack up higher bills at the gas station. Because all of that is terrible, Chevy opted for a lighter and better-optimized platform to build the Camaro on, and thanks to that, pretty much every spec on the new car gets an instant bump over the previous generation that can’t easily be made up for through aftermarket modifications.
Something the sixth-generation Camaro has that even its 1960s and 1970s ancestors lacked is something that could be called Muscle on Demand. When you ride in a proper muscle car or pony car from that golden era of American iron, just sitting at a light is eventful. Hearing the engine thump, practically feeling every revolution of the crank as that performance cam chops away, you don’t even need to be moving to feel amazing. That said, having all those things happen day in and day out for months or years at a time quickly goes from wondrous to annoying for just about anyone.
Modern muscle cars, especially the Camaro, manage to provide that special feeling when you want it while remaining comfortable when you don’t. Before you open up the taps, a 2021 LT1-powered Camaro might as well be a perfectly mild-mannered commuter car. But the second you decide to let loose, all those horses howl, and suddenly you’ve got all the best parts of a late 1960s muscle car experience without any of the downsides.
The flagship engine of the Camaro will always and forever be a small block Chevy V8, pushrods included. But these days, engines that guys at stoplights used to scoff at will leave those same guys in the dust if they aren’t careful.
The Turbo I4 option packs a substantial 275 horsepower in a very lightweight package with incredible tunability. Not to mention the sleeper factor of having a Camaro with half the normally expected cylinder count. Both the head and block of this engine are composed of lightweight aluminum, with variable valve timing and direct injection standard. Despite the small displacement, these engines provide a healthy 295 pound-feet of torque from the factory.
For many, the term “V6 Camaro” might inspire a condescending smirk, but that smirk would be awfully short-lived these days. The 3.6-liter aluminum V6 available in the 2021 Camaro makes 335 horsepower, enough to embarrass the owners of V8 SN95 Mustangs all day long. If the smug satisfaction of outperforming your rivals using a V6 is not enough to convince you of this powerplant’s decency, perhaps EPA-rated 29 miles to the gallon rating on the highway will. More cruising for less money is never a bad thing.
Saying the LT1 and LT4 V8 engines need no introduction is an understatement, but for the sake of consistency, we can just say these beautiful lumps of aluminum are what God intended to be under the hood of an enthusiast’s Camaro. Providing prodigious amounts of power and torque, these engines are more than propulsion, more than victory – they are a hallowed tradition.
Racing Through the Eras
That tradition started in the late 1960s, with the first generation of Camaros almost literally flying out of showrooms. Part of the original golden age of muscle cars, the pony car Camaros proved to be far lighter and more agile than their larger purebred muscle car siblings and competitors. This led to them being the ideal candidate for Chevy’s entry into the Trans-Am racing series.
Proving that even the original muscle cars could be made to turn, Camaros mixed it up with the best road cars of the era in Trans-Am, proving it could run with the best of them. Very soon after getting into the series, Camaros had a stretch of dominance and took the championship in 1969. More traditionally, Camaros were always a common sight at the dragstrip, laying the competition low with that tried and true muscle car combination of a big engine in a small car.
These days, Camaros of any generation make for an excellent basis for just about any kind of performance build or endeavor. SCCA racing has commonly featured Camaros, as well as modern grassroots entries in such demanding sports as time attack and drifting. Camaros have been used by multiple professional Formula Drift drivers, giving the old Chevy pony cars a solid spot in the motorsport with the most powerful production-based cars in history.
While racing at both the professional and grassroots levels is in the very DNA of the Camaro, it should really be said that simply as a daily driver, it is better now than it ever has been. The 2021 Camaro has available features that would’ve seemed ridiculous on a Camaro even twenty years ago. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a heated steering wheel, navigation, built-in Wi-Fi, and a litany of other capabilities elevate the humble Camaro into something that can only be described as a muscle car grand tourer.
Comfort is standard, but performance is mandatory. The modern Camaro goes like none that have come before it, and the several dedicated performance variants blow minds today, let alone those from previous decades. The standard LT1 and SS models pack a considerable punch already, and those are just the start.
The 1LE package can make just about any six-gen Camaro into a corner-carving master, while the LT4-powered supercharged ZL1 boasts an eye-watering 650 horsepower and pavement-wrinkling 650 pound-feet of torque. Whether you’re in the game to build a monster or buy one ready to go, Camaro has you covered.
Get Ready To Race
The 2021 Chevy Camaro remains the everyman’s performance car, but these days adds plush comfort and convenience to earth-shattering power and organ-rearranging lateral-G capability. The Camaro has matured from the barebones pony car it was in its youth while keeping the ability to give its owners and passengers that exciting warm and fuzzy feeling that a muscle car can provide.
In addition to a more plush interior and more powerful powertrain, the sixth-gen Camaro is significantly lighter than its predecessor, all while offering ever more capable performance trims and options. As always, those three truths about the Camaro remain factual. It’s affordable, it’s powerful, and it’s got attitude. But now, it also has class.