Camaro Al Fresco
"Is this in the job description?" I asked my drive partner as laughingly, we reassured each other that we were indeed working.
Instead of a stuffy cubicle, our work place today was the open cockpit of the 2011 Camaro Convertible headed towards cottage country.
Our day began at the General Motors headquarters in Oshawa, where we were handed the keys to a jet-black 6-speed Camaro SS with scarlet racing stripes.
Although we're given a brief demonstration on the retractible roof's operation, a fiddly process taking just under 20 seconds, it's a beautiful morning and we're hopeful we won't have to put it to use.
I'm content to ride shotgun for the first leg, which gives me a chance to admire the dramatic red and black leather interior. I've never been a huge convertible fan, since aesthetically I prefer the flowing lines of a hard top. But I have to admit this is pretty attractive, and without the coupe's slammed roofline and gun-slit windows, the cockpit is bright and open. More importantly, it completely alleviates the Camaro's biggest flaw - lack of visibility.
There is a price to pay however, the trunk sacrifices about a quarter of its 10.2 cubic feet with the roof stowed. Best leave the skis and golf clubs at home.
Accelerating onto the highway, my drive partner Gary hammers the throttle, awakening the 426 horsepower, Corvette-sourced LS3 engine under the Camaro's long snout.
I'm enjoying the pop and burble of the glorious exhaust note, when I suddenly realize that most of our gear has taken flight: coffee cups and note books tumble into the rear seats, and our drive route book disappears into the wind behind us. Quickly, we raise the windows and the turbulence diminishes. It's quiet enough for normal conversation, but long-haired folks take note: you'll definitely need a hat.
Leaving the highway, we're delighted by the course we're given. It encompasses some of the prettiest country roads in this part of Ontario. If they lack the tightly winding twists of the Forks of Credit, they provide plenty of broad, sweeping curves that are tailor-made for the Camaro's ample proportions. This is no agile little Bimmer made for alpine switchbacks, but a swaggering beast with a lineage dating back to the halcyon days of Detroit's finest muscle.
Yet for a large car, the Camaro convertible handles well, hugging the road tightly, its 20-inch Pirellis sticking like glue in the corners.
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