Camaro Chief: 'Rock-Star' 4-cylinder Set for Mustang Fight

Greg Migliore

It was inevitable, the 2016 Chevy Camaro had to have a four-cylinder engine. The archrival Ford Mustang packs a spunky 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-banger, and everyone from BMW to Subaru uses four-cylinders to great effect to power their sports cars. Now it's Chevy's turn. Again.

The Camaro ran the infamous Iron Duke four-cylinder with 88 to 92 horsepower in the 1980s. It was a fuel-economy play at a time when performance was not a priority. After the 1970s muscle-car era, output even for the V8s didn't top 200 hp again until the mid-'80s. Thankfully for enthusiasts, things have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.

The gen six Camaro will offer a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder with 275 horsepower. It's the standard engine, slotting below the 335-hp V6 and the 455-hp V8. But don't mistake the new I4 for an Iron Duke encore. Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser called it a "rock star" and said cars equipped with it feel lighter than V6 models. The four-cylinder (295 pound-feet at 3,000-4,500 rpm) also summons more torque in quicker fashion than the V6 (284 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm). Chevy expects the Camaro to hit 60 miles per hour in "well under six seconds," according to press materials. The Mustang EcoBoost (310 hp, 320 lb-ft) clocks times in the low to mid five-second range.

Al Oppenheiser"We're not doing it just so we have one," Oppenheiser said. "We're not doing it because like in gen three you're forced to do it because of fuel economy. We're doing it because it belongs in the car. It has a distinct character."

Speaking with Autoblog recently at the Detroit Grand Prix racecourse on Belle Isle, Oppenheiser said he expects the I4 to attract a younger crowd to the Camaro and will put up stiff competition against the V6 for sales. "I've read blogs where younger folks won't buy a Camaro because it doesn't have a 2.0-liter turbo or a turbocharged four-cylinder," he said. "So we're going to excite them."

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