PAY attention long enough and you will see that nature has a funny way of setting up rivalries everywhere. Day or night? Crocodiles or alligators? Pepsi or Coke? Ice-cream or gelato? However, one of the longest-running adversaries have always been Holden or Ford, Red or Blue, Commodore or Falcon.
With the discontinuation of the locally built versions of both large, rear-drive sedans, a new class of car has emerged to carry on the competition between the two working-class brands – enter the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
While Ford has had a free hit in the muscle car segment since the launch of its sixth-generation Mustang in 2016, Holden has finally decided to come to the table and leverage its Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) division to convert the sixth-generation Camaro to right-hook form.
Leaving the badges where they are supposed to be mean the Aussie Camaro – due in mid-2018 – will still wear Chevrolet’s iconic golden bow tie, but Holden will sell the muscle car straight from its showroom floor right next to the likes of the Astra hatchback and Equinox SUV.
At first though, only a single specification of the Camaro will be on offer – known as the 2SS – powered by the likeable 6.2-litre LT1 V8 that produces 340kW of power and 615Nm of torque under the bonnet of the US-spec coupes.
Paired with either an eight-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, the Camaro will also be loaded with HID headlights, 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, heated and ventilated front leather sports seats, dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, a head-up display and a drive mode selector.
How’s this compare with Ford’s perennial Mustang then, a model that just so happens to be due for an update around the same time the Camaro is set to land.
Well, the Mustang actually opens its range with a 233kW/432Nm 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine (the same motor powering the charismatic Focus RS hot hatch), meaning the Camaro won’t be able to compete at the lower end of the spectrum.
On to the range-topping 5.0-litre Coyote V8 mill then. Under the rear-drive Mustang, the engine produces 306kW and 530Nm but is due for a power bump with this year’s updated version.
The Chevrolet Camaro easily blows the Mustang out of the water on paper then, but there is one area where the Ford is expected to handily trounce its compatriot American rival – price.
Having produced the Mustang in right-hook form from factory, Ford is able to bring in its sports coupe from $45,990 before on-roads for the EcoBoost, $57,490 for the V8-powered coupe with convertible versions adding around $9000 to the cost.
While Holden and HSV have yet to reveal pricing for the incoming Camaro, it is rumoured that the Chevrolet muscle car will wear a sticker price in the vicinity of $90,000, or about 50 per cent more expensive than its Mustang rival. Ouch.
With Mustang going gangbusters on the sales charts – even two years after its launch – the Camaro isn’t expected to match Ford’s sales success given its higher price.
However, reports from the US indicate that the Camaro is more than a match for the Mustang where it, arguably, counts most – from the driver’s seat.
Those who opt for the Camaro will also be buying exclusivity – an often overlooked factor when looking at the purchase of a sportscar, after all, you want to be the only person on the block with one parked in the garage, don’t you?
In its sixth-generation guise now, the Camaro has evolved substantially since it was first introduced in 1967 – just two year after the debut of the Ford Mustang.
When it first arrived on the scene, the top-spec Camaro Z28 was powered by a 4.8-litre V8 boasting 216kW of power on the brochure, but actually made closer to 261kW in the real world.
Surviving just two years of production until 1969, the Camaro nameplate evolved over three successive unbroken generations until 2002 where it was discontinued before returning in fifth-generation guise in 2010.
After an eight year hiatus, Chevrolet resurrected its Camaro nameplate with an all-new muscle car based on the same Zeta platform developed by Holden for the then-new VE Commodore.
Topping out with a track-focused ZL1 variant that used a supercharged 6.2-litre LSA V8 engine to develop 427kW/754NM, the Camaro could blitz the quarter mile in just 11.94 seconds.
While the current-generation Camaro is now almost two years old, its long heritage and strong pedigree will make it a worthy rival to the Ford Mustang as both cars set to battle it out on Australian soil in 2018.