The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro May Struggle with the Hellcat Challenger
When we learned a while back that the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat would pack at least 600 horsepower and at least 575lb-ft of torque, I expect that the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro would beat out the Hellcat with help from the Corvette Z06 LT4 engine with “at least” 626 horsepower and 635lb-ft of torque. We figured that an LT4 6th gen Camaro would be a lock for the strongest American muscle car when GM announced that the Z06 would pack 650 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately for GM, the new Hellcat Hemi V8 makes significantly more power than the Z06 so the same engine will not be enough to allow the 6th gen Camaro to overpower the 2015 Challenger Hellcat.
The Camaro Needs More Than the LT4
In order for General Motors to grab the title of offering the most powerful American muscle car, the engineers would have to design a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro that has more than 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque. The LT4 delivers the same 650lb-ft of torque but “only” 650 horsepower so although the Camaro will likely be a little lighter and possibly just as fast with 57 less horsepower, being the most powerful is a big deal even if the less powerful model is faster in certain venues.
A 6th generation Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with the LT4 engine would likely give the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat a great run for its money – especially on a road course or some other track where it is more than a race of power – but the Chrysler Group would still offer the most powerful American production car (provided that Ford Motor Company doesn’t surprise us all with a super powerful S550 Mustang in the next year or so). Ford Motor Company has spent the last year bragging about how its 662 horsepower is the most powerful American production road car while the Camaro ZL1 only offered 580 horsepower. Now that both Ford and Chrysler have spent some time offering the most powerful American production car – this is a title that you would think that GM would love to hold.
However, will they look to hold that record with the Camaro or the Corvette?
Chrysler is OK with the Hellcat Outselling the Viper
When the Chrysler Group designed the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to have 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque, they obviously knew that the brawny Mopar muscle car would offer a ton more power than their flagship SRT Viper. The issue is that the Viper isnt selling well and with a base price starting over $100k, the Viper is not for everyone. On the other hand, the 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat will likely start in the $65-75k range, so it will almost certainly sell better than the Viper. Were the Viper selling very well, Chrysler would probably try to avoid doing anything that subtracted from Viper sales, but with Viper numbers already bottoming out – they would be just as happy to have those prospective buyers snatching up the 700+ horsepower Challenger.
GM Doesn’t Like the Camaro Challenging the Corvette
Over the past 30 years or so, General Motors has made it quite clear that they don’t want the Chevrolet Camaro interfering too much with Chevrolet Corvette sales. The Corvette is a high profit margin car and right now, it is selling like crazy while appealing to a different buyer than the Camaro. The next generation Camaro will likely have the same LT1 engine as the Corvette Stingray, but the added weight of the Camaro and lack of rear seat in the Corvette attract different buyers so there isn’t all that much direct competition. Those GM fans who want a supercar can buy the Corvette Z06 with a price in the $125k range and I suspect that it will be some time before GM looks to sell a Camaro that will knock the Challenger SRT Hellcat off of its pedestal.
While General Motors could most certainly come up with a street legal engine that would allow the 6th generation Camaro to be the most powerful American muscle car, it would come as the cost of trumping the Corvette – and I don’t think that GM wants to do that. Because of this, the 2016 Camaro will have a hard time competing with the Hellcat Challenger simply because GM will likely use the Corvette (for now) to represent the most powerful car in the Chevrolet lineup – and maybe the most powerful American car.