It’s never fun to play alone, so the sixth-generation Ford Mustang will be happy to hear that GM has unveiled the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The latest Camaro, also in its sixth generation, is touted as not only the best Camaro ever, but one of the best performance cars available. LT and SS models will go on sale late this year.

GM’s pony car is all new, with only two parts carried over from the fifth-gen – the rear bowtie emblem and SS badge. Weight reduction was a main goal – around 70% of the architectural components are unique to Camaro, and while structural rigidity was increased by 28%, body-in-white mass was reduced by 60.5 kg.

Add in an aluminium instrument panel frame (instead of steel, 4.2 kg saved), and aluminium front suspension links plus steel rear suspension links with lightening holes (12 kg less) among other things, total curb weight was cut by more than 90 kg.

“The driving experience is significantly different. Immediately, you will notice how much lighter and more nimble the Camaro feels. That feeling increases when you drive the Camaro harder – it brakes more powerfully, dives into corners quicker, and accelerates faster than ever,” said Aaron Link, the Camaro’s lead development engineer.

The Camaro features a new MacPherson strut front suspension with Camaro-specific geometry. The double-pivot design provides a more precise feeling of control, including more linear and communicative feel from the quick-ratio electric power steering. At the back, a new five-link independent suspension imprives wheel control and reduces “squat” during acceleration. Magnetic Ride Control, previously limited to the Camaro ZL1, is available on the Camaro SS for the first time.

All 2016 Camaros offer Brembo brakes. 345 mm front rotors with four-piston fixed calipers and 338 mm rear rotors with four-piston fixed calipers are standard on SS, while the LT can be had with 320 mm front rotors with four-piston calipers and 315 mm rear rotors with single-piston sliding calipers. 18-inch wheels are standard on the LT, while the SS gets 20-inch rims. The bigger rollers are optional for the former.

The new Camaro will be offered with six different powertrain combos. The LT’s standard engine is a new 2.0 litre turbo with 275 hp and 400 Nm, 90% of the latter available from 2,100 to 3,000 rpm. The four-pot will deliver 0-96 km/h (0-60 mph) acceleration in less than six seconds and offer the best ever fuel economy on a Camaro. To compare, the S550 Mustang’s 2.3 litre EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 310 hp and 434 Nm, good for 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds.

An all-new 3.6 litre V6 is available in the Camaro LT, producing 335 hp and 385 Nm. The engine incorporates a trio of technologies for efficiency and performance, including direct injection, variable valve timing and, for the first time, Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation, which disables two cylinders under light throttle to enhance efficiency.

The 2.0 turbo and 3.6 V6 engines are offered with a six-speed manual or the all-new Hydra-Matic 8L45 eight-speed auto with shift paddles. It’s based on the 8L90 eight-speeder, but scaled to suit smaller engines. It offers an estimated 5% efficiency improvement over a comparable six-speed auto, GM says.

The SS is powered by the 6.2 litre LT1 V8 engine introduced on the Corvette Stingray. About 20% of the components are specific for the Camaro’s architecture, including new, tubular “tri-Y”-type exhaust manifolds. The direct injection VVT engine comes with Active Fuel Management on automatic models. Output is 455 hp and 617 Nm, making it the most-powerful Camaro SS ever.

The LT1 is available with a six-speed manual – with new Active Rev Match that blips the throttle for perfectly timed downshifts – or the Hydra-Matic 8L90 paddle shift eight-speed auto. With the improved handling and performance, Chevy says the Camaro SS delivers better lap times than the fifth-gen’s track-focused Camaro 1LE package.

Sound is very important, and all three have enhanced voices. The 2.0 turbo features active noise cancellation, which uses sound waves to cancel unwanted cabin noise. Models equipped with the Bose audio system also feature engine sound enhancement, which “amplifies the native sounds” of the four-pot, and can be disabled if you prefer things natural.

Both the V6 and V8 feature mechanical sound enhancers – resonators that direct induction noise from the engine bay into the cabin. They are also available with a dual-mode exhaust, which features electronically controlled valves that bypass the mufflers under acceleration, delivering improved performance and louder tunes.

Last but definitely not least is the design. It’s immediately recognisable as a Camaro, but the exterior is more sculpted and muscular than before, while looking lower and wider too, even though it is within five centimetres of the outgoing car’s footprint.

“From every angle, you’ll never mistake this for anything but a Camaro. We’ve taken that iconic design and amplified its proportions to reflect a more dynamic driving experience – like the T-shirt on a muscular physique,” describes Tom Peters, design director. So, which looks better, Camaro or Mustang?

The interior is brand new and looks a lot more special than the previous cabin. Two analogue dials dominate the instrument cluster, but an eight-inch-diagonal high-definition centre screen that can be configured to provide navigation, performance, and infotainment features can be specified. Another eight-inch screen, in the centre of the dash, serves as the interface for the enhanced next-gen MyLink system.

You would have noticed the unconventional placement of the central air vents, located below the big screen and just ahead of the gear knob. That’s not the only thing unique about the vents – their rings act as temperature controls, a different kind of integrated controls from those on the new Audi TT.

No more handbrake-yanking showboating now, because GM has opted for an electronic parking brake. This has enabled designers to reposition the cup holders so to not get in the way of manual gear shifting.

An available LED ambient lighting system – integrated in the dash, door panels and center console – offers 24 different colours, as well as fade and transition effects. There’s even a theatrical “car show” mode that cycles randomly through the entire colour spectrum when the Camaro is parked! The ambient lighting is one of eight attributes the driver can adjust using the Camaro’s new Driver Mode Selector, which has Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and – on SS models – Track settings.

To go on sale late 2015, the 2016 Camaro will be produced at GM’s Lansing Grand River plant in Michigan.