The 2015 and now 2016 Ford Mustang was a long awaited car for so many reasons, a modern chassis and a higher quality driving experience chief among them. For Chevrolet Camaro fans, they had less to want for in the 2016 six-generation, but it indeed brought more to the table as well.
To see how they compare today, we combined our recent test drives of the 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost with Performance Package with our test of the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6 with RS package.
Before you start cussing us for making an unfair comparison, let us roll out our rationale. First, while the Mustang is also available with a V6 it’s actually rated at less horsepower than the 2.3 liter EcoBoost four.
The EcoBoost has 310 horsepower and a strong 320 pound-feet of torque, where the 3.7 liter V6 only pumps out 300 horsepower and 280 pounds of twist. The EcoBoost is Ford’s mid-range engine option.
Second, the Mustang V6 is not available with a Performance Package of options that helps it compete with Chevrolet Camaro’s RS package which also comes with better tires and wheels among other details.
At the end of the day, our comparison is based on the premise that if you ask both Ford and Chevrolet for a performance non-V8 of their respective cars what you see here is exactly what they will hand you. And they are very closely matched at that.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6 RS has a 3.6 liter naturally aspirated V6 rated at 335 horsepower which is more than Mustang, but has less torque at 284 pound-feet. Both of our test cars came with a six-speed manual, and a six-peed automatic is optional on Mustang, an eight-speed autobox in Camaro.
With the Camaro RS package you get 20-inch wheels, the Mustang EcoBoost Performance Package 19-inch alloys – both come with stickier performance rubber. Both of them come with a nicely tuned sport suspension as well.
When it comes to dimensions, the two cars took different routes with their redesign. The Mustang EcoBoost weighs in at about 3,352 pounds. When they redesigned the Camaro it lost a good deal of weight, the V6 RS coming in now at just under 3,400 pounds. So they are almost the same.
Remarkably though, in our test drives which you can see in our companion video here, the Mustang while the best it has ever been still feels the heavier and less agile of the two. The new Camaro benefits from GM’s latest Alpha platform which also underpins the Cadillac ATS.
These bits and pieces while in spec are near identical to the Mustang with their dual-ball joint front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, the outcome in how the two cars feel on the same road when pushing it into tight curves could not be more different. The Camaro just feels more fit and nimble.
When it comes to power, the push in the back is nearly the same between the two. While we didn’t get to do instrumented tests acceleration is very similar because where one lacks additional horsepower, the other makes up for in torque.
The differences lie in the sounds these two very different powerplants make and how they feel when you are rowing them through the gears. GM’s 3.6 liter V6 is truly one of the best on the market in terms of refinement and robust spirit. It’s smooth and very responsive.
Adding to the appeal of the Camaro was the optional dual-mode exhaust system which opens flaps at certain speeds to really let it howl. And the good news here is that both the piped in soundtrack from its induction and its exhaust are very pleasing to the ears.
The Mustang’s EcoBoost four-cylinder lacks this rich set of qualities that make up for the trade off you made in power by not getting a V8. Its sound just isn’t all that appealing, especially when its pushed hard. Add that to a clunkier and less refined personality, with a rougher idle, it just isn’t as fun.
The last big measure was quality control here. The new 2015+ Mustang is as good as Ford’s pony car has ever been in terms of fit and finish, material quality, and overall aesthetics. Still, our tester exhibited the same lack of body panel alignment and rattles that we have come to know from Ford. Even though we are dyed in the wool Ford guys here, we aren’t blind.
So when compared to the new Chevrolet Camaro which rolls down the same assembly line as the Cadillacs where the same eyes and hands put them together, the differences show. There wasn’t a single rattle or shake inside the Camaro, and not a single panel gap inconsistent or mis-matched. It was very well put together.
In the end, this comparison is an exercise. If you are a brand loyalist this will only cement your current opinions or make you mad at hell at us for daring to run askew of them. Bottom line is that Chevrolet’s new Camaro is good, damn good. The boys in Dearborn have some catching up to do.