Chevy's offerings at L.A. Auto Show are all over the map
From the small to the massive, the Bow Tie brings something for everyone.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible
Chevrolet is feeling pretty nimble for its 100 years, it looks like. How else to explain the changes of direction exemplified by the models debuting at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show? Chevy sees the writing on the wall in the compact market and it's in Italian; the new Spark aims to poach young buyers who might otherwise give the Fiat 500 a go. Also, just when you thought it was safe, here comes another Camaro variant — the 580-horsepower ZL1. Chevrolet is taking aim at new targets and doing everything it can to hit them.
2013 Chevrolet Spark
What's hot? The Spark's full complement of media devices and capabilities is impressive for a car that will have a base price closer to $10,000 than $20,000. General Motor's 100,000-mile powertrain warranty will be a great lure for those young buyers who don't have the income to handle repair bills, too.
What's not? The Spark has been on sale overseas for nearly two years now. For a car whose design is neither as retro-chic as the Fiat nor as quirky-cute as the smart fortwo, two years of exposure doesn't help establish its freshness.
How much and when? No official word on pricing, but rumor has it the Spark will be available in the U.S. and Canada sometime in the middle of 2012.
MSN Autos' verdict: The price of the Chevrolet Spark is going to determine whether it lives or dies in an increasingly crowded market of really good subcompacts. If the Spark has a base price anywhere near the Fiat, expect a short, sad life for it in the American market. If it's priced to become the car that college grads can afford or that parents can buy for their children, the Spark could make quite the splash next summer.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe
What is it? The latest version of the Camaro is a top-speed monster with horsepower to rival some of the world's most renowned sports cars.
What's hot? 580 horsepower and a massive 556 lb-ft of torque propel the ZL1 from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 184 mph. The 2012 ZL1 is the most powerful production Camaro ever built.
What's not? Suspension upgrades such as Magnetic Ride and Performance Traction Management are meant to improve cornering for track-day drivers, but we'd like to see the Camaro go head-to-head with some of the supercars that Chevy is comparing it to before crowning the ZL1 anything more than a straight-line star.
How much and when? The 2012 Camaro ZL1 starts at $54,995 and is expected to arrive early next year.
MSN Autos' verdict: Camaro enthusiasts will rejoice at this new benchmark of snarl and grunt. We remain wary of such power in a car not particularly known for its handling, but can't help but grin at the numbers associated with it. The burnout potential alone is mind-boggling.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trendand European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.