The comfort of the SS sport seats, a rumbling 6.2-litre, V8 and the glory of air conditioning eliminates the discomfort of the Sunshine State’s clammy atmosphere.
Orlando, FL. – Stepping into the humidity of Southern Florida’s air can feel like a sudden slap to the face.
Within moments of leaving the hotel, the fresh and clean sensation of a good night’s sleep and a rejuvenating shower can be wiped away, only to be replaced by that sticky feeling we try to avoid.
Soon after, the comfort of 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS sport seats, a rumbling 6.2-litre, V8 and the glory of air conditioning eliminates the discomfort of the Sunshine State’s clammy atmosphere.
Getting this vehicle was the luck of the draw. Here’s why.
Chevrolet created a not-so-conventional drive program for the launch of their iconic, sixth-generation muscle car. Drivers picked keys out of a bag to make it fair for everyone, meaning, there weren’t enough of any one type of car, whether it was a V6 or V8, manual or automatic transmission.
All I wanted was a manual. Didn’t matter the engine size. I ended up with a six-speed manual Camaro SS. Divine.
Instead of the conventional turn-by-turn drive route, we were challenged to find our own way to our final destination. My outbound flight would be from New Orleans. I had 36 hours to get there.
Even though I was flying without a co-pilot, I teamed up with newfound friends from techradar.com (Matt and Max) in another Camaro.
Initially, the desire was to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, AL was the first destination. Though, a late start and upwards of 1,000 kilometres to drive in less than eight hours would be difficult.
Nevertheless, we set off north towards Birmingham. We would stop along the way to check out the “Live Baby Gators” at the Florida Citrus Centres.
We drove along interstate 10 heading west with weeping willows swaying overhead. We stopped at the Waffle House – a southern US dining staple – for some less than healthy sustenance.
Our marathon drive continued along stretches of highway where huge billboards were the only scenery. When we needed to communicate, we could use the Camaro’s Apple CarPlay to send messages to each other. Handsfree, of course.
The Driver Mode Selector allowed me to swap between Sport, Tour and Snow/Ice (and also Track with SS.) These drive modes instantly tailor up to eight different vehicle characteristics. The Tour mode would seem to be a natural fit for the long drive, but I had it in Sport and loved every second.
Eventually, we pulled into John’s City Diner in Birmingham for a late dinner of some deep-fried goodness. Over dinner, we debated the next step: we could stay in Birmingham or push forward to Jackson, Mississippi. Staying in Alabama would make for a longer journey the next day.
We pushed on and when I shut her down at that chosen destination I had clocked 1,291 kilometres (807 miles).
Surprisingly, after over 12 hours behind the wheel, my back wasn’t aching as much as I had expected. The sport seats proved to be firm yet flexible enough to still be comfortable and keep me in place.
Even with the chassis 28 percent stiffer, the ride isn’t bone-jarring, not for me at least. Though, don’t expect it to take road imperfections gingerly. It is a performance vehicle after all so running a tight ship is mandatory. Besides, there aren’t 455 horses under the hood without reason. My voice had tired from singing at the top of my lungs and talking on the phone – I was driving alone, after all.
The desire to venture along this section of the program that spanned over the 48 contiguous states was purely personal. I’d never driven in this part of the United States – with the exception of Florida – and wanted to experience what it had to offer.
The scenery wasn’t quite as epic as the sultry waves of Florida’s coastline, and all in all, it was quite barren, but there was still joy in the journey.
From downtown Jackson, Mississippi, we continued our last leg of the trip towards New Orleans, Louisiana. The total count of states we had driven through four states, adding 1,600 kilometres to the odometer (actually the US-spec car counted in miles!)
When I stepped out of the car in New Orleans, a familiar humidity greeted me. I embraced it with open arms, stretched and thought about how my next trip to this part of the US would include the Barber Motorsports Museum, more deep dried food and an evening on Bourbon Street. And, I hope another 2016 Camaro SS with a manual transmission.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS with the six-speed manual has a starting MSRP of $42,150 (excluding destination charges, fees and applicable taxes.)
Visit www.chevrolet.ca for more information on the 2016 Camaro.