new ATS premium-compact car, due in mid- to late 2012 as a 2013 entry. Today’s fifth-generation Camaro uses a cut-down version of the Zeta 1 architecture developed by GM’s Holden branch in Australia and which featured on the 2008-09 Pontiac G8 large sedan.
Like the car it will replace, the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro will be offered as a coupe and convertible with powertrain choices ranging from mild to wild. Reporting by website GM Inside News (GMI) suggests overall size and weight may be little changed, even though a smaller, lighter Camaro would seem almost mandatory in light of escalating federal fuel-economy standards and growing consumer preference for more fuel-efficient vehicles of all kinds.
According to GMI, the Alpha program originated in late 2004 as another Holden project, but languished until 2007, when Cadillac decided to develop the platform for a long-desired challenger to the likes of Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. However, as GMI notes, the project suffered “mission creep” as Cadillac decreed more and more changes that “quickly turned a light, sporty platform on its head…” Among the conditions imposed by the luxury brand were space for V6 engines as well as the intended 4-cylinder units; engineering to accommodate optional all-wheel drive; and a larger “Alpha +” platform for the next-generation of Cadillac’s CTS premium-midsize sedan.
As a result, says GMI, “Each addition has caused another issue to engineer around, thus causing the Alpha program to exceed GM’s mass requirements...by nearly 500 pounds. It is unclear how heavy Alpha products will be, but every independent Alpha source…has indicated that the final curb weight could push 4,000 pounds unless GM puts the program on a [crash diet] before launch.” GMI goes on to cite company insiders and supplier sources as saying “the Alpha program has been a near-constant stream of drama and problems for GM, which were compounded by the company’s June 2009 bankruptcy. Even today, as the program nears its final stages...problems are still being worked out.” Among those are a planned multi-link front suspension that no longer works as intended with the accumulated flab and is being given the band-aid treatment rather than a full do-over.
GMI reports that engineers are “now struggling to reduce Alpha’s mass by a quarter-ton,” a huge amount for a new platform at such a late design stage. “One source has indicated that GM is willing to throw all sorts of new composite technologies at the body, structure, and powertrain to achieve that goal [for both] the Cadillac Alpha cars and the sixth-generation Camaro.”
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