2016 Chevy Camaro goes topless

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

As if the svelte, all-new 2016 Chevy Camaro isn't sexy enough, now it's going topless.

Just a month after rocking the muscle car faithful on Belle Isle with a lightweight coupe, Chevrolet pulled back the curtain on the convertible version at the MotorCity Casino in Detroit Tuesday. Chevy is betting the drop-top will trump rival Ford's hot-selling Mustang by offering the segment's first, fully-automatic, stowed roof.

"With a top like this, the people down the street in Dearborn need to be worried," said Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser.

Like its sibling Chevy Corvette Stingray and Porsche's Boxster, the sixth-generation Camaro's top can be opened and closed with the push of a button while traveling at speeds of up to 30 mph. Conventional soft tops on the current Camaro and Mustang, operate only when the vehicle is stationary and require some manual muscle to decouple from the roof.

What's more, the Camaro's soft top — designed by Tom Peters who also oversaw the Stingray convertible — will disappear when stored under a rear tonneau cover that is indistinguishable from the car's sheet metal.

"We are the only ones in our segment doing a soft top with hard tonneau that cycles at speed," Oppenheiser said. "It'll be commensurate to convertible pricing today, which starts at about $33,000."

Convertibles make up just under 20 percent of Camaro sales and 15 percent of Mustang buys.

Adopting sophisticated convertible technology previously found only on luxury sports cars complements the new Camaro's Alpha chassis architecture — the same platform that anchors the Cadillac ATS sedan and coupe.

Camaro's clean-sheet redesign has largely kept the car's old, chiseled design cues intact. But Chevy is counting on the car's advanced handling and technology to turbocharge sales. If Mustang is the pony car segment's iconic brand and the 700-horsepower Challenger Hellcat, the power king — then Camaro aims to set the standard for handling.

Like the coupe, the convertible will be offered with three engine options: a base, 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4; a 335-horse, 3.6-liter V-6; and the ground-shaking, 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 455 ponies.

Chevy says the convertible will arrive on dealer lots in early 2016.