By this point, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to get my chance at flogging a V-8. Quite honestly, it couldn't have worked out better. After a day and a half, I was pretty well versed with the V-6s, so getting to drive the V-8 last was really the right way to end this experience. For this final leg, I found myself behind the wheel of a Silver Metallic SS with the six-speed. Unlike the earlier sections, this portion of the cruise had several stretches of desolate road, including very tight corners that seemed never-ending.

The instant I hit the go pedal, I could feel the difference. Everything about the car felt better over the V-6. Maybe it was more mental, but I certainly liked how the ride felt. It was definitely firmer over its V-6 counterpart, but not so harsh that it would cause any discomfort or wear you out during those long driving excursions. Another area that felt a bit more refined was during clutch engagement and the overall feel of the TR6060 six-speed. The shifts just felt a lot more solid, and it slipped right into gear with little argument. And of course, there's no mistaking the healthy LS3 tone; personally, I could go for a little more noise, but I certainly understand that not everyone wants to wake up their neighbors at the crack of dawn. Still, it'll be easy enough to modify should anyone else want to.

I will say that the 304hp V-6 felt great and pulled well from 4,000 rpm and all the way to 7,000, but I felt much more at home with the 426hp V-8. Acceleration is healthy. As for the people I've read complaining about its weight, I strongly suggest they get in the seat and take one out for a spin. Having a curb weight of 3,849 for the manual is up there, but you also have 426 hp to help you forget about that. Then again, you have to keep it in perspective and realize that many of our favorite muscle cars were never lightweights. Take the Chevelle and second-gen Camaros, for example. Unless you're building a dedicated race car, nobody wants a stripped-down rattle can. The fifth-gen is comfortable and unbelievably quiet, keeping road noise to a minimum when you have the windows up.

You see where I'm going with this? That's right: This is a performance driver. Of course, with the acceleration, you'll need improved braking. While some say it is standard fare for the SS to come equipped with antilock four-piston Brembo discs on all four corners, I say they're anything but standard fare. Mash the brake pedal and you're coming to a halt, very quicklike.

Considering the roads we were taking, we were able to take full advantage of the entire package. The combination of handling, braking, and acceleration made for a very enjoyable but spirited ride, which never felt out of control. Through some of the tighter sections, I simply kept it in Second gear, braked before the turn, and was able to roll into the throttle and smoothly accelerate out without ever missing a beat.

Sadly, the time came when I had to relinquish the keys to the folks from GM. Obviously, everyone who had the opportunity to take this media drive will have varying opinions, but I am sold on the new Camaro. The production model looks remarkably close to the concept vehicle that was initially presented, and it is packaged incredibly well and competitively priced. If you're in the market for a fifth-gen, you won't be disappointed. You can take pride knowing that you're purchasing a piece of automotive history in the making.