When General Motors decided to build the new '10 Camaro, they wanted the car to perform, but that term means different things to different people. The vast majority of people have never driven a truly fast car. They get out of their Honda Civic to test drive a '10 SS and feel like they've been strapped into a rocket ship. They take a curvy road and feel like they're on rails. However, a small minority of people out there know better. They've driven fast cars that can carve corners with the best of them, and it takes a bit more to peg their "fun meters." Chances are that if you're reading this magazine, you fall into the latter group of miscreants.
The main problem with the new Camaro is that it's big, not in a dimensional sense, but certainly in terms of weight. Mass in motion wants to stay in motion, and the more weight you have shooting along in a given direction, the more difficult it is to get that petrol-fueled mass on another trajectory. Add in the fact that GM's main concern is making the majority of buyers happy, and it's easy to see how our little minority of performance junkies is left wanting more.
Detroit Speed Inc. saw the limitations of the '10 Camaro SS right away and decided to engineer a kit that would help the heavy Camaro transition from one direction to another with greater ease. They also wanted to make the system easy to install and affordable.
The result is a kit that doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but rather make that wheel better than it was. Bigger sway bars to help tame body roll work in concert with higher rate coil springs. The effect is a Camaro that ends up feeling a lot lighter than it really is. As a side benefit, it also drops the stance down to the level that is aesthetically pleasing, yet not so low that you end up cringing in terror at every speed bump or slightly inclined driveway.
And while we appreciate a killer stance as much as the next guy, we really felt we needed "before" and "after" testing. After all, this is Camaro Performers, not Camaro Posers. With that in mind, we baseline tested our project SS on both the skidpad and the slalom. We then installed the DSE parts and retested the SS on the same tires and wheels that it had from the factory. No trickery or other shenanigans to sully the results.
Follow along as we upgrade the Camaro Performers '10 SS.
Back To The Track Prior to doing the suspension upgrades, we took our bone-stock SS to our test venue to get some baseline numbers. The two tests applicable to these suspension upgrades were the slalom and the skidpad. The slalom we use is 420 feet long consisting of cones spaced 70 feet apart. Our skidpad test measures a car's lateral grip buy hauling ass around a 200-foot diameter circle. The best time clockwise is averaged with the best time counter clockwise and that number is plugged into a formula that gives us an average g-force reading. This method makes it extra tough to hit the magic 1g number, but then again, it's not supposed to be easy.
On our baseline testing the stock Camaro managed a best average speed of 45.7 mph through the cones, while on the skidpad the car was good enough for .84 g's-pretty stout numbers for a stock hot rod.
After installing the Detroit Speed suspension components, and keeping the stock tires and wheels in place, we put the Camaro through the paces once more.
On the slalom course, the speed shot up to 48.1 mph. This is an impressive improvement over stock. While the skidpad numbers showed a small improvement at .87g's, it was obvious the stock tires ran out of lateral grip well before the suspension's abilities. We don't attribute this to the actual softness of the tire, but more to the lack of contact patch. Once we get more meat on these wheels, things will certainly improve.
Now, testing is all about the numbers, and that's a great guide for the mathematical performance, but getting the car on a road course is where the fun really comes into play. In a previous issue, we talked about how well the car did in stock trim on the GingerMan Raceway in Michigan. Recently, we had the opportunity to open up the car once more; this time at Buttonwillow Raceway with the upgraded suspension. We're excited to report that the handling improved dramatically over stock. The stiffer springs and sway bars kept body roll to a minimum, yet the car felt compliant and much lighter throughout the course, especially in segments like the esses. Throughout the day, our '10 Camaro easily kept up with many of the lighter, more nimble cars on the track, even while sporting the stock tires and wheels (there's not much left of the stock tires, by the way).
As important as performance is at the track, getting there was also part of the test. With Buttonwillow being over 160 miles away, the Camaro would have to deal with a long stretch of California's underfunded highways-not the smoothest by any means. Although concerned that the stiffer suspension might make the drive slightly less comfortable than with the stock stuff, that wasn't the case. The new springs managed to deal with the highways like a champ. Sure the ride was slightly stiffer, but we just used it to our advantage and kept the hammer down while making our way over California's notorious Grapevine (a section of the northbound 5 Freeway that get's you the hell out of Los Angeles).
A by-product of the suspension upgrade is the newly acquired stance. Even though the springs lowered the car only about 2 inches, it now has a much more aggressive appearance. After all, looks are almost as important as performance ... almost.