Browse over 9,000 car reviews
What's the difference?
Nobody really needs to drink beer and absolutely nobody needs to go skydiving. You don’t need tattoos nor to eat ice cream, nor put art on their walls, and absolutely nobody needs to play Stairway to Heaven, badly, on guitar. Likewise, nobody needs to buy a Chevrolet Camaro.
And there’s your answer if anybody has a go at you for arriving home in this big American muscle car, because if we only did things we needed to do, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be having as much fun.
The Chevrolet Camaro has been the Ford Mustang’s recurring nightmare since 1966, and this latest, sixth generation of the Chevy icon is available to continue the fight here in Australia, thanks to some re-engineering from HSV.
The SS badge is also legendary and was emblazoned on our test car, although it’s really a 2SS, and we’ll get to what that means below.
As you’re about to see, there are many good reasons to buy the Camaro SS and a few that might make you reconsider, but think about this – within the next two decades it’s entirely possible a car like the Camaro, with its 6.2-litre V8, may be banned because of emission regulations. Outlawed. You also never know how much longer HSV will continue to sell it in Australia. Maybe that’s reason enough to get one? Before it's too late.
There's something about Italy and four-wheeled transport. Even the most functional vehicles developed there somehow morph into high-performance hot rods.
For example, as the SUV phenomenon has swept the world Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati have more than matched the German big three and others in elevating the humble family truckster to supercar status.
And the Grecale Trofeo is the latest example of Maserati's inability to let an SUV be simply practical. It's a mad twin-turbo V6 all-wheel-drive version of the more typically four-cylinder-powered mid-size SUV.
We spent a week with this ferocious beast to see how much spice it can add to family life.
The Camaro 2SS is a real-life Hot Wheels car. This beast looks amazing, sounds incredible and is not overpowered, making it usable as a daily driver.
Now about that score. The Camaro 2SS lost big marks for not having AEB, lost more marks for the short warranty and no capped-price servicing and also some for its price, because compared to the Mustang it’s expensive. It’s also impractical (space and storage could be better) and uncomfortable to drive at times, but this is a muscle car, and a great one at that. It's not for everybody, but truly perfect for some.
In its surprisingly crowded premium performance SUV segment, the Maserati Grecale Trofeo offers something different. Next to the X4s, GLCs and Macans of this world, it's quietly confident and charismatic with the performance, practicality and value to back up its distinctive good looks. Despite some gripes around warranty, fuel consumption and ride compliance, it's a compelling alternative to those more predictable choices.
As was the case with Ford’s Mustang, something seemed to go bizarrely weird in the styling of the Camaro in the early 2000s, but by 2005 the arrival of the fifth generation saw a design that re-imagined the original (and I reckon the best) 1967 Camaro. Now this sixth-generation car is a sharper resolution of that, yet not without causing a bit of controversy.
Along with styling changes, such as redesigned LED headlights and taillights, the front fascia was also given a tweak, which involved repositioning the Chevy ‘bow-tie’ badge from the upper grille to the black-painted cross bar that separates the top and bottom sections. The reaction from fans was enough for Chevrolet to quickly redesign the front and move the badge back.
Our test car was the version with the ‘unpopular’ face, but I reckon it gets away with the look, thanks to the body colour being black, which means your eye isn’t drawn to that cross bar.
Here’s some pub ammo for you – Chevy calls the ‘bow tie’ on this Camaro a ‘Flow Tie’ because its hollow construction means air can pass through it to the radiator.
Big on the outside but small inside, the Camaro’s dimensions show it to be 4784mm long, 1897mm wide (not including mirrors) and 1349mm tall.
Ford’s Mustang is elegant, but Chevy’s Camaro is more macho. Big haunches, long bonnet, flared guards, nostrils. This is one mean-looking monster. Those high sides and ‘chopped’ roof design may also make you assume the cabin is more cockpit than lounge room.
That assumption would be right and in the practicality section further down I’ll tell you just how cozy the interior is, but for now we're just talking about looks.
I’m not sure what David Hasselhoff’s apartment looks like, but at a guess I reckon it would have a hell of a lot in common with the interior design of the Camaro 2SS’s cabin.
Soft, black leather seats with SS badging, giant metal air vents, door handles that look like chrome exhaust tips and a display screen that is oddly tilted towards the floor.
There’s also an ambient LED lighting system that lets you choose from 1980s-neon colour palettes, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Ken Done’s outstanding depiction of a Koala family sitting down to a barbecue lunch.
I’m not knocking it, I love it, and even though the guys in the office thought it would be hilarious to set the lighting to hot pink, I kept it that way because it looks awesome.
At close to 4.9m long, a fraction under 2.0m wide and less than 1.7m tall, the Grecale is a 'large' medium SUV with a robust, thick-set look and a low-key design approach relative to its often more overtly muscular competitors.
Signature Maserati elements include a trio of porthole vents in the front fenders, the broad vertically-slatted grille with trident emblem sitting proudly in the centre, and a smaller version of Neptune's weapon of choice adorning the broad C-pillar.
There's also more than a touch of MC20 around the raked headlights (including the DRL signature), a pronounced splitter-style nose piece and broad intakes on either side.
It can also emit a response signal when it receives a voice command or morph into a G-meter.
From there, the double saddle stitched perforated leather trim, exposed carbon-fibre elements and brushed metal finishes complete a highly polished cabin environment.
The Camaro 2SS’s cabin is cozy for me at 191cm tall, but even with a similarly proportioned photographer riding shotgun it wasn’t too cramped. Believe it or not, we were able to carry all his equipment and lights, plus batteries for our night shoot (have you seen the video above – it’s very good). I’ll get to the boot size in a moment.
The Camaro 2SS is a four-seater, but those rear seats are only going to suit small children. I was able to fit my four year old’s car seat into place with a bit of gentle persuasion, and while he could sit behind my wife, there was zero space behind me when I was driving. As for visibility, we’ll get to that in the driving section below, but I can tell you he couldn’t see much from his tiny porthole.
Cargo capacity of the boot is small, as you’d expect, at 257 litres, but the space is deep and long. The problem is not the volume, however, it’s the size of the opening, which means you’ll have to cleverly angle larger items to get them in, like pushing a couch through your front door. You know, houses are big, but their openings aren’t. I know, profound.
Cabin storage is also limited, the door pockets were so thin my wallet couldn’t even slide into it (no, it’s not the wads of cash), but there was just enough room in the centre console storage bin for it. There are two cupholders, which are more like elbow holders, (because this part wasn’t swapped over in the conversion and that’s where your arm lands while driving) and a glove box. Rear-seat passengers have a large tray to fight over in the back.
The 2SS doesn’t have a wireless-charging pad like the ZL1, but it does have one USB port and a 12V outlet.
At close to 4.9m long and nearly 2.0m wide, the Grecale is a big medium five-seater and with a 2.9m wheelbase to play with, interior space and practicality are more than respectable.
There's plenty of space up front and in terms of practicality, decent door bins, two cupholders in the centre console, a lidded oddments tray in front of them (housing USB-C and USB-A sockets), a large lidded box between the seats (which doubles as a centre armrest) with a 12-volt outlet lurking inside as well as a generous glove box.
Boot volume is a healthy 570 litres with all seats up, which is 35L more than the lower GT and Modena grades because rather than a space saver spare, the Trofeo cops a repair/inflator kit. Boo...
It's enough room to fit our three-piece luggage set or the CarsGuide pram with ease, and the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat liberates even more space.
There are seat release handles in the cargo area as well as multiple tie-down anchor points, a 12V outlet, bag hooks and a two-piece load cover set-up to deter prying eyes.
You know how people talk about cars not always being a rational purchase? This is the type of vehicle they’re talking about. The Camaro 2SS lists at $86,990 and the total tested price of our car was $89,190, because it was fitted with the optional 10-speed auto for $2200.
In comparison, the V8 Ford Mustang GT with the 10-speed auto is about $66K. Why the big price difference? Well, unlike the Mustang, which is built as a right-hand-drive car in the factory for places such as Australia and the UK, the Camaro is only built as a left-hand drive. HSV puts about 100 hours into converting the Camaro from left to right-hand drive. That’s a big job and involves gutting the interior, taking out the engine, swapping the steering rack and putting it all back together again.
If you still think $89K is a lot to spend on a Camaro, then think again because the top-of-the-range hardcore race-car-for-the-road ZL1 Camaro lists for about $160K.
Those are only the two grades of Camaro in Australia – the ZL1 and 2SS. The 2SS is a higher-specified version of the 1SS sold in the US.
Standard features in the 2SS include an eight-inch screen, which uses Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 system, a nine-speaker Bose stereo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, head-up display, rear-view camera and rear camera mirror, dual-zone climate control, leather seats (heated and ventilated, plus power adjustable in the front), remote start, proximity key and 20-inch alloys.
That’s a decent amount of kit and I’m particularly impressed by the head-up display, which you don’t get in the Mustang, and also with the rear-vision-mirror camera, which turns the entire mirror into an image of what’s behind the car.
At $174,900, before on-road costs, the Grecale Trofeo sits in the middle of a pack of performance-focused mid-sized SUVs spanning a roughly $50,000 price band from around $140K to $190K.
Sure, the 2SS doesn’t produce the mammoth 477kW of the ZL1, but I’m not complaining about the 339kW and 617Nm it does make from its 6.2-litre V8. Besides, 455 horsepower from the 2SS’s naturally aspirated LT1 small block is plenty of fun and the sound on start-up through the bi-modal exhaust is apocalyptic - and that’s good.
Our car was fitted with the optional 10-speed auto ($2200), with paddle shifters. The automatic transmission was developed as a joint venture between General Motors and Ford and a version of this 10-speed is also found in the Mustang.
This traditional torque-converter automatic isn’t the quickest shifting thing, but it suits the big, powerful and slightly lethargic personality of the Camaro 2SS.
It produces 390kW, which is well in excess of 500hp, and grinds out enough torque (620Nm) to pull a small cottage off its foundations.
It's brimming with performance and efficiency-focused tech. Everything from twin-spark dual-chamber heads and cylinder deactivation to high-pressure direction-injection and variable valve timing.
Drive goes to all four wheels via a ZF-sourced eight-speed auto transmission and an all-wheel-drive system incorporating an electronic self-locking limited slip diff at the rear.
Okay, brace yourself. During my fuel test I traveled 358.5km and used 60.44L of premium unleaded, which comes out to be 16.9L/100km. That sounds awfully high, but actually it's not as bad as it looks, considering the Camaro 2SS has a 6.2-litre V8 and I wasn't driving it in a way that would conserve fuel, if you get my drift. Half of those kilometres were on motorways at 110km/h, the other half would have been in bumper-to-bumper city traffic, which would have driven up the fuel usage, too.
The official fuel consumption after a combination of open and urban roads is 13L/100km.
Maserati's official combined cycle fuel economy number for the Grecale Trofeo is 11.2L/100km, emitting 254g/km of CO2 in the process.
We covered urban, B-road and freeway running, not to mention some enthusiastic driving along the way, and recorded an average of 16.9L/100km. Which is thirsty, but not outrageous relative to the competition.
The fuel tank requires 64 litres of 95 RON premium unleaded to fill it which translates to a theoretical range of around 570km, dropping to just 380km using our real-world number.
Even if you're okay with the Trofeo's hefty consumption rate, regular visits to the fuel pump will be kind of a pain.
Exactly how an American muscle car should be – loud, a bit uncomfortable, not all that easy, but a hell of a lot of fun. Those first three attributes may sound like negatives, but take it from somebody who owns and loves hot rods - it’s part of the appeal. If an SUV is not easy to drive or comfortable there's a problem, but in a muscle car it can enhance the engagement and connection factors.
That said, there will be many who think the ride is too firm, the steering heavy and that it feels like you’re staring out a letterbox slot through the windscreen. It’s all true, and there are other performance cars out there which make as much horsepower, handle better and are so easy to drive they can almost (and some do) pilot themselves, but they all lack the feeling of connection the Camaro offers.
Wide and low-profile Goodyear Eagles (245/40 ZR20 at the front and 275/35 ZR20 at the rear) provide good grip, but also feel every blemish in the road, while four-piston Brembo brakes all round pull the Camaro 2SS up well.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h isn’t disclosed by HSV or Chevrolet, but the official line is that it’ll nail it in under five seconds. Ford reckons its Mustang GT can do the same in 4.3 seconds.
If you were wondering if you could live with the Camaro daily, the answer is yes but, much like wearing leather pants, you’ll have to suffer a bit to look this rock and roll. I put 650km on the clock of our 2SS during my week with it, using it daily in peak-hour traffic into the city, in supermarket car parks, and for daycare drop offs, with country road and motorway drives on the weekend.
The seats can get uncomfortable over long distances and those low-profile ‘run-flat’ tyres and firm dampers don’t make life any comfier. You’ll also find that wherever you go people will want to race you. But don’t get sucked in; you’re slower than you look - another muscle-car trait.
Sure, it’s not the quickest performance car I’ve steered and on winding roads its handling capability is not up there with many sports cars, but that V8 is responsive and angry in Sport mode and smooth in its delivery of grunt. The exhaust note is sensational and the steering, while heavy, offers great feel and feedback. The sound isn’t electronically enhanced but it uses bi-modal valves, which open and close at different engine and exhaust loads to produce its addictive bark.
Engage the standard launch control function, step through the blast-off procedure and Maserati says you'll rocket from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds, which is supercar fast.
And the way this twin-turbo V6 delivers that kind of performance is impressive; beautifully linear without a hint of lag.
Trundle along at 60km/h, pin the throttle and you'll be in 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' territory in the blink of an eye. This is a full-blown rocket sled.
All 620Nm of peak torque is available from 3000-5500rpm with maximum power (390kW) arriving at 6500rpm. No matter which drive mode you've selected (more on that shortly), thunderous performance is only an extension of your right ankle away.
Braking is professional grade with big ventilated and cross-drilled rotors front and rear with fixed Brembo calipers at both ends - six piston front and four-piston rear.
Maserati claims the Grecale Trofeo will slow from 100km/h to a standstill in less than 40m, which is not a lot of metres from that speed.
I had one telling 'will I, or won't I?' situation when presented with an amber light and in deciding to give the brakes a workout (there was no one behind me) was rewarded with a secure and insanely rapid stop.
In terms of general observations, the placement of the start button and drive-mode dial on the steering wheel is a nice touch, the front seats are superb in terms of support and comfort, the media interface is quick and easy to use and the only strong hint of Maserati's Stellantis ownership came in the form of familiar 'Jeep-style' audio control rocker switches on the back of the steering wheel.
The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS doesn’t have an ANCAP rating, but it’s certain that it wouldn’t achieve the maximum five stars because it doesn’t have AEB. There is forward-collision alert which warns you of an impending impact, there’s also blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and eight airbags.
For child seats (and I did put my own four-year-old in the back) there are two top-tether points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
There's no spare wheel here, so you’ll have to hope you’re within 80km of home or a repair shop, because that’s how far the Goodyear ‘run-flat’ tyres will get you.
The low (ish) score is for the lack of AEB. If the Mustang can be fitted with autonomous emergency braking, then the Camaro should be, too.
No independent ANCAP safety assessment at this stage but the Grecale Trofeo is fitted with active crash-avoidance tech including AEB (with pedestrian recognition) operating from 5.0-258km/h, adaptive cruise control (with stop and go function), 'Active Lane Management' (including lane-keep assist), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and 'Drowsy Driver Detection'.
There's also a 'Surround View' camera system, 'Traffic Sign Assist' as well as front and rear parking sensors, and 'Rear Cross Path' (incorporating rear AEB).
If a crash is unavoidable, six airbags (dual front, front side and full-length side curtains) are onboard and there are three top tethers across the rear for baby capsules/child restraints, including ISOFIX anchors on the outer positions. There's even an emergency triangle and first-aid kit.
The Grecale Trofeo is covered by Maserati's three-year/unlimited km warranty, which is off the market pace, with five years/unlimited km the expected norm. Roadside assistance is included for the duration of the warranty.
Maintenance intervals are 12 months/15,000km, and service over the first three years will set you back $4639, or $1546 per workshop visit. Not cheap, but again, not out of line for a performance model in this part of the market.
Maserati also warrants the body for "perforation by rust corrosion" for four years, extendable up to eight if vehicle maintenance, from an authorised dealer, is up to scratch.