DETROIT – General Motors leaders expects the redesigned ’16 Chevrolet Camaro to appeal to a wider audience than its predecessor and they plan to roll out a number of variants in the coming years with an eye on quickly regaining the No.1 spot in the sports coupe segment.

“Every vehicle we put in the market, (we) want to win the segment,” GM CEO Mary Barra says. “We’re excited, (and) I’m confident this car will be something that current Camaro owners will want, and we’ll bring in a new customer, as well.”

The Camaro led the Middle Specialty segment in the U.S. for five straight years, including 2014 when sales grew 7.1% to 86,297 units, according to WardsAuto data. But a redesigned ’15 Ford Mustang has knocked Camaro from the top spot this year, leading the sales race through April by a margin of 42,995 to 24,229.

Asked about reclaiming the sports coupe crown, GM product development chief Mark Reuss echoes Barra’s sentiments. “That’s the aim,” he says after introducing the car at the city’s Belle Isle state park over the weekend.

The fact that Camaro held a sales edge on the venerable Mustang for such a stretch is rather surprising, given the car’s basic underpinnings were close to seven years old in the final year of the fifth-generation model. Reuss says GM kept the car fresh, though, with compelling variants such as the 580-hp ZL1 and the track-oriented Z28. A midcycle enhancement bringing a new front and rear to the car also helped, he says.

Expect the same strategy with the sixth-generation model, due at dealerships later this year.

“It was a great (previous) platform, and we had to wait a bit for the new one, but the team did a great job keeping it fresh,” Reuss says, crediting a steady line of new accessories, too.

“We’ve been doing things to the car all the way through the lifecycle,” he tells WardsAuto. “That’s what you’ve got to do. The market is so competitive. We’re not going to wait five years or six years, or whatever the length the product cycle might be to do new things.

“You’re going to see that in our truck portfolio and in our car portfolio,” Reuss adds, confirming a Camaro convertible will come very soon. “We’re going to hit it hard.”

The biggest change for the new Camaro was moving to a more sophisticated Alpha architecture, the same platform underpinning the critically acclaimed Cadillac ATS and CTS luxury cars. In addition to a slew of new technologies to enhance its driving dynamics, the latest Camaro drops 200 lbs. (91 kg).

“It’s the agility, the braking, the steering, being able to put the car wherever you want on the track or on the street,” says Reuss, who has performed engineering drives of the car. “And then to drive it at high speeds on the autobahn and have a car that is incredibly stable, that is a magical formula. We haven’t ever had that type of architecture on Camaro.”

Pricing has not been announced, but Reuss suggests the latest Camaro will not stray far from its heritage of offering stylish design and top performance in an affordable package.

The ’15 Camaro starts at $23,705 with a standard 325-hp V-6. The new one adds a turbocharged 4-cyl. as the base engine. It will achieve 275 hp, 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in less than six seconds and more than 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km).

“That is a wildly different value equation than Camaro has had at any time in its history,” Reuss says.

Barra says the car remains true to its “road-hugging” heritage.

“After a long day of work, to be able to jump in a Camaro and drive it home, it’s a pleasure,” she says of her favorite GM vehicle. “This one is more refined and even more enjoyable to drive.”

jamend@wardsauto.com