SOMEWHERE ALONG I-90 EAST OF ERIE, PA – Chevrolet Camaro fans sure get their share of grief, given all the stereotypes about their Members Only jackets, mullet haircuts and Newport menthols.

It might be high time to retire those antiquated clichés, because General Motors has extinguished the dinosaur that typified the last-generation model of the bow-tie sports coupe. A sixth go-round of the Camaro produces a lighter, faster, more refined and, dare we say, sophisticated animal.

So put those old thoughts to the curb like a bleach-blonde girlfriend in acid-wash jeans. It’s time to think black turtlenecks, Chukka boots and iced matcha lattes. OK, skip the lattes, but you get the drift – the redesigned ’16 model turns everything you previously thought about the car on its ear.

And just to be fair, the last Camaro wasn’t all that bad. After all, it has sold 549,248 copies in its last run and a mash-up with the Transformers film franchise made the yellow-and-black Bumblebee every boy’s bedroom pinup. GM kept it fresh, too, adding incremental technologies with each special edition and the last one of those, the Z-28, is a flat-out scream to drive.

But the new Camaro, arriving at U.S. dealers in the coming weeks, is such a departure from those old clothes it moves the conversation from Camaro vs. Mustang to Camaro vs. BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Yes, the new Camaro is so well done it conceivably could compete with the highfalutin Germans.

Matting the throttle of an SS variant on the interstate here returns the familiar, deep baritone of GM’s 6.2L LT1 V-8, a two-time Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner making its first appearance in the Camaro. An all-new 3.6L V-6 also is available and a 4-banger will bow in the car for the first time this spring in the form of 2.0L turbo mill.

The 6.2L LT1 is the star, however. And, boy, does it shine on a meandering, 800-mile (128,800 km) road trip from Detroit to Syracuse, NY. That historic exhaust note is accompanied by an exhilarating thrust of power known only to the small-block family, now in its sixth generation of playing playground bully. At 80 mph (129 km/h), the LT1 has plenty of kick left to shove me back in my seat and whisk me past by the masses dutifully obeying 65-mph (105 km/h) speed limits.

If speed limits happen to be your thing, by the way, the Camaro may not be your car. But if you insist, you’ll reap the reward of cylinder deactivation as a standard technology on models with 8-speed automatic transmissions. Whether cruising in the slow lane or puttering about town, four of the LT1’s eight cylinders shut down to conserve fuel. How’s that for next-gen muscle?