Track Tested: 2010 Camaro V6 vs. 2009 Dodge Challenger SE


camaro-vs-challenger-flipper.jpg

So yesterday we showed you how the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 stacks up against the Hyundai Genesis V6. Not exactly your typical foes, but as the numbers showed, a surprisingly even matchup.

Today it's a more traditional fight, Chevy versus Dodge. A classic rivalry maybe, but let's face it, the Dodge is a little overmatched here. What used to be considered adequate power for a V6 has now been rendered, well, just adequate.

The sizes of their engines only vary by a tenth of a liter, but the Camaro's 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 out muscles the Dodge's 3.5-liter V6 by 54 horses. Add in the Challenger's extra 100 pounds of weight and four-speed automatic and it never really had a chance.

All the results after the jump.

Vehicle: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT (with the RS package)

Price: $26,845

Specifications:
Drive Type: rear wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed Manual
Engine Type: V6
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 3,564 cc (217 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 304 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 273 @ 5,200
Brake Type (front): 12.6-inch ventilated disc, single-piston caliper
Brake Type (rear): 12.4-inch ventilated disc, single-piston caliper
Steering System: variable ratio rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multi-link, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/45ZR20
Tire Size (rear): 275/40ZR20
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P-zero
Tire Type: summer performance
Wheel Size: 20 X 8.0 front - 20 X 9.0 rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): aluminum alloy
Manufacturer Curb Weight (lb): 3,728

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.4
0 - 45 (sec): 4.0
0 - 60 (sec): 6.0
0 - 75 (sec): 8.8
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph):  14.2 @ 98.9
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.7
30 - 0 (ft): 27
60 - 0 (ft): 107
Braking Rating: Very good
Slalom (mph): 68.2
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): .89
Handling Rating: Very good

Acceleration Comments:  Strangely, the V6 Camaro can overwhelm its rear tires almost as easily as the V8, so a low engine speed is needed for launch. Starting with the revs at about 3200 rpm we dropped the clutch and let the tires spin about two-thirds of the way through first gear. Once the clutch is out, pedaling it is needed to keep wheelspin in check. Tranny really doesn't like to be rushed in this car. Second gear crunched every shift during acceleration testing. Slower shifts were never a problem.

Braking Comments:  Despite its less capable single-piston calipers, the V6 Camaro's single-stop performance matches or beats the Brembo-equipped V8 car. We did experience marginal pedal fade after six 60-0 stops, so its heat capacity isn't as high as the more powerful and costly Brembos. Still, 107 feet from 60 mph is impressive.

Handling Comments: Largely the same as the V8 car, the V6 Camaro's handling is on-par for the segment. And it suffers the same visibility issues. Its small glass area makes placing the car precisely difficult at first. I never felt like I was as close to the cones as I should be in the slalom until I actually hit them. Having less power is the only trait which hurts the V6 car's performance through the cones where exit speed (through sharp acceleration) can make a difference. Otherwise, this car feels the same as the V8. Around the skidpad it burdens its front tires less than the heavier SS and it lacks the power to influence its balance as easily. Powerslides are not easy in the V6 which lacks the oomph to rotate on the throttle.

Vehicle: 2009 Dodge Challenger SE

Price: $ N/A

Specifications:
Drive Type: rear wheel drive
Transmission Type: 4-speed Automatic
Engine Type: V6
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 3,518cc (214.7 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 250 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 250 @ 3,800
Brake Type (front): 12.6-inch ventilated disc, single-piston caliper
Brake Type (rear): 12.6-inch solid disc, single-piston caliper
Steering System: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, short and long arm
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multi-link
Tire Size (front): 225/60R18 99H
Tire Size (rear): 225/60R18 99H
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: Summer performance
Wheel Size: 18 X 7.5 front - 18 X 7.5 rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Aluminum alloy
Manufacturer Curb Weight (lb): 3,819

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 3.0
0 - 45 (sec): 5.1
0 - 60 (sec): 8.1
0 - 75 (sec): 12.1
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph):  16.1 @ 88.3
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.8
30 - 0 (ft): 29
60 - 0 (ft): 129
Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 59.5
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): N/A
Handling Rating:  Average

Acceleration Comments: The SE favors being held against the brakes until revs reach about 2,000 rpm. Some chirp off the line with ESP turned off which just means a lenient version of ESP. Engine revs all the way to the 6,500-rpm indicated redline and upshifts are moderately fast, but smooth. Why no AutoStick in this sporty coupe? Also seems like a five-speed automatic would make better use of the V6 engine.

Braking Comments:  First braking effort from 60 mph was the shortest at 129 feet and grew slightly longer from there to a 134-foot max. Although the pedal showed no signs of spongy fade, the odor from hot brakes suggested otherwise. In the slalom the front end gives up long before the rear does.

Handling Comments:   Slalom: Light steering and front end gives up early. With ESP all the way off it becomes a guessing game. Also, without Autostick I had to select third gear which sometimes kicked down to second on exit. Only moderate roll stiffness, but decent impact-reducing damping. In the end, the limits are defined by the ESP.

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