2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: Drive review

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The Chevy Camaro ZL1 packs 580 hp in its supercharged V8.
The Chevy Camaro ZL1 packs 580 hp in its supercharged V8.

By: J. P. Vettraino on 1/17/2012

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What is it?

The new ZL1 is the ultimate factory Camaro--now and probably ever. It's surely the the majority powerful, by means of 54 proportion additional horsepower supposed the infamous COPO-option, big-block 1969 Camaro ZL-1. Development engineers say one-third of the ZL1's lesser are unique, better by means of the present fifth-generation Camaro SS. All of persons sole parts, save the ZL1's Alcantara dash insert, now upgraded to get better performance.

It starts beneath the hood by means of General Motors' supercharged, 6.2-liter LSA V8. Familiar as of the Cadillac CTS-V, the LSA is similar but not identical to the LS9 small-block in the Corvette ZR1, and its distinctions go additional than a smaller Eaton twin-scroll supercharger. The ZL1 engine is assembled in Silao, Mexico, as,at the same time as the Corvette LS9 is hand-built at GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich., by means of titanium between rods and valves and dry-sump lubrication.

Nonetheless, present are improvements to the LSA for the ZL1, preliminary by means of a additional well-organized intercooler. Packaging in the Camaro intended improved eating and exhaust flow, by means of a 30 proportion decrease in run restriction better by means of the CTS-V. The consequence is 580 hp at 6,100 rpm in the Camaro, and 556 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm--that's up 24 hp and 5 lb-ft as of the CTS-V. The ZL1 surpasses the LS3-powered Camaro SS by 154 hp and 136 lb-ft and moves to the top of the pony-car pecking arrange (for now), edging the 2012 Ford Mustang GT500 by 30 hp and 46 lb-ft (though Ford has announced 650 hp for the 2013 GT500).

The ZL1 moderator normal by means of a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual, addition a twin-disc clutch, tighter ratios and 30 proportion additional torque ability supposed the Tremec in the Camaro SS. Its shifter was urbanized by Chevrolet, by,by means of slightly longer throws supposed the Hurst wrap up in the Camaro SS, and was optimized for a street route rather supposed drag racing.

The ultimate Camaro too rapidly amazing you can't get in a Mustang GT500 or Boss 302: an routine transmission. The not obligatory Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed is GM's highest torque-capacity automatic, obtainable merely in heavy-duty trucks and the CTS-V. Control algorithms are adjusted ,specially for the ZL1, prefilling hydraulics for the after that cog to pace upshifts and allowing filled physical cog selection, no routine override. Chevy's path numbers say the ZL1 routine is quicker supposed the physical to 60 mph and from side to side the quarter-mile (12.0 place vs. 12.1 seconds).

There's one more skill in the ZL1 so as to you can't get in a Mustang, and it's significant. GM's Magnetic Ride Suspension (MRS), now applied in supercars genuine as the Audi R8 and the Ferrari FF, has person's name upgraded for the ZL1. The Gen III MRS stay a earlier processor and four smaller magnets in every shock, rather supposed two better ones. The object is quicker reaction time.

The ZL1 suspension starts by means of the similar spring tax as the SS in front, slightly senior tax in back, and adds stiffer bushings, bearings and tie rods. Already billed as the world's fastest-reacting suspension, the MRS magnetorheological shocks get still earlier in the ZL1. Gen III decreases reply occasion 40 percent, normal to Chevy, and in fact pulls electric present out of the shocks at what time contain require to get softer, rather supposed now waiting for the present to dissipate. Using information as of 18 dissimilar sensors, accounting for steering angle and brake application, MRS reads and adjusts damping tax each inch of journey at 60 mph.

The ZL1 stay a variable-rate steering rack, standard ratio 16.1:1 and variable-assist electric boost. GM's Performance Traction Management, adapted as of the Corvette ZR1, luckily open manage and intended the intended to tailor a variety of contemporary management systems, as of traction to MRS to steering. Mode 5 lets the computer run constancy manage merely to optimize longitudinal grip. It's future to create all but 99th-percentile drivers earlier supposed contain counting be by means of the electronics in the clouds off completely.

The brakes are fundamentally the similar as persons on the CTS-V. Rotors and swept region are better supposed the clear competition's, and the wrap up is a bit additional complicated (read, costly). The front rotors are two-piece aluminum/iron, and all of the calipers are aluminum, by means of six pistons in front and four in back. The ZL1's wheels measure 20 decrease in diameter (as opposite to 19 for the additional guys), obtainable in two styles by means of inquisitiveness finishes and fitted by means of Goodyear F1 Supercar Gen II unidirectional tires (285/35ZR front, 305/35ZR rear).

The ZL1 moderator normal by means of path stuff you don't get on a GT500, counting a broadcast cooler, differential cooler and brake-cooling ducts, and its aerodynamics contain person's name optimized for far above the ground speed.

A key constituent is the carbon-fiber insert in the ZL1's high-dome hood, construct Chevy strong-minded the Mohawk. The mixture of an extended front splitter, taller inferior grille and an extractor in the Mohawk mechanically 265 pounds additional front aero power supposed the Camaro SS at 150 mph (that's 65 pounds of downforce by means of the ZL1 v. 200 pounds of lift by means of the SS). The ZL1 has two stomach pans to decrease turbulence and cool mechanicals underneath, extended rockers for stone protection and a taller back spoiler by means of integrated brake glow (this spoiler counting hide the rear-window CHMSL in the SS).

That Alcantara dash trim? It's coordinated by means of a ZL1 logo, lest the intended not remember he or she is heavy the ultimate Camaro. There are too Alcantara inserts in the power, heated front seats, red stitching in the leather and embroidered logos on the headrests. The ZL1 moderator normal by means of all the niceties, counting nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and rear-park help by means of a rearview camera. The head-up show rapidly four monitor choices by means of a variety of data, counting a g gauge and shift guide.

Even by means of all the niceties, the ZL1 lapped the Nordschleife a number of 40 place earlier supposed the Camaro SS (watch the video here). Chevy inappropriately growth built-in a 24-hour, high-speed flog at GM's proving ground in Milford, Mich., by means of a 150-mph-plus top pace every lap and an standard of 88 mph, attract merely to alter tires and brakes.

ZL1 manufacture is underway in Oshawa, Ontario, and dealerships be hypothetical to see a steady stream of hardware by spring. The coupe debuts at $54,995, counting a $900 destination charge. Options are incomplete to the routine ($1,195), sunroof ($900), suede steering wheel and shift knob ($500), a stripe wrap up ($470) and a clear-coated Mohawk so as to exposes the carbon-fiber weave ($600).

A ZL1 adaptable weapons on sale in the summer as a 2013 model. Chevy expects the ZL1 to explanation for 5 proportion to 10 proportion of sum Camaro manufacture in excess of the extended haul. Early demand determination be approximately exclusively manual, but it's predictable to rotate in the direction of 50 proportion routine by means of time.

The ZL1 has a improved front/rear heaviness equilibrium supposed the Mustang Boss 302 or the GT500, a substantially longer wheelbase (plus 5.2 inches), a better tire scrap and a completely self-governing back suspension. It's too substantially heavier--488 pounds heavier supposed the Boss, 300 pounds heavier supposed the GT500. As a result, the ZL1's power-to-weight ratio falls each so slightly shy of so as to of the 2012 GT500. We hesitation anybody determination notice.

The ZL1 has additional jobs supposed also of its straight competitors. Ford has subdivided the top of the Mustang lineup, offering the Boss 302 for additional frequent track-day rank and the GT500 for persons who desire the main swinger for sunny Sunday afternoons. The ZL1 has to plug together roles, with no armed on the Corvette's toes. So come again? precisely is the ultimate Camaro? A super-muscle-pony game coupe, and probably additional belongings supposed any pony car before.

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What is it similar to to drive?

Remarkable, for its mix of daily civility and path capability. On the street or the racetrack, petroleum pony car or power car (or what we name Camaros and Mustangs as,at the same occasion as days) approximately construct the concept of compromise obsolete.

As a street car, the ZL1 is amazingly nice--tame, even--except for a number of recognizable Camaro things, construct we'll get to below. Only the LSA's rumble hints at its ability on a track, anywhere it's up to now concerning no substance which mortals can abusively bring and eagerly waits for more. The ZL1 is additional at ease supposed a Camaro SS as a each day intended and additional manageable on a racetrack, by means of senior limits. As path cars go, Ford's Mustang Boss 302 is not chiefly brutal on the street, by means of its physically adjustable suspension set soft. But if ride excellence is an issue for anyone, the ZL1 is better, and the worth of the MRS shocks and self-governing back suspension be hypothetical to not be underestimated. Better still, you don't contain get out of the ZL1 and physically regulate the suspension at what time it's occasion to mallet it.

The banquet begins by means of the engine. The LSA delivers a primal surge of whoosh at now concerning any pace up to its quite sudden petroleum shutoff (6,200 rpm). The supercharger is extraordinarily quiet and it keeps forcing air evenly approximately to the redline. There's no old-school dip in grunt at far above the ground revs. The bottomless pool of torque construct road, cog assortment and now concerning all but pure, adrenaline-pumping armed up superfluous. The sounds? The ZL1 has an lively exhaust scheme by means of vacuum-controlled valves borrowed as of the Corvette ZR1; it delivers the filled rumble merely on top of 3,000 rpm and 50 proportion throttle, or at idle to impress by means of friends. At filled roar petroleum Camaro is not fairly as aurally pleasing as a Boss 302, but the exhaust note isn't amazing so as to counting power our choice.

With all of its horsepower and 1 g grip, the ZL1's the majority excellent asset strength be its level-headed go,shift toward to business--particularly knowledge the way approximately an unfamiliar racetrack. It's a big, serious car but it a number of cruel action to create it bite. Its constancy manage scheme is no substance which but a straight jacket, allowing together trimmings of the car to slide preceding to the electronics go to work. Only a talented intended determination be clever to run 580 hp improved supposed Performance Traction Management in Mode 5. The ZL1 intended manifold options or reach on a track, thanks to its composure and huge torque.

The grasp is meaty by means of a obvious engagement point, but not excessively rigid or painful. We'd name it excellent. The shifter is nice, chiefly to anybody who remembers the old F-body Camaro, and we genuinely similar to the automatic--as a great deal as we similar to automatics in any high-performance car. It's chiefly smooth as a street transmission, and it intended filled manage and unfettered cog assortment as a manual. On the track, in game routine mode, it shifted additional rapidly and managed gears by means of additional acumen supposed we could.

The ZL1's steering fake high-quality job filtering the rubbish but not the feel. Both speed and help alter suitably by means of speed, and subjectively, petroleum strength be the ZL1's main edge on the hot-rod Mustangs. The Boss 302's steering strength be a mark quicker overall but it large fewer linked supposed the Camaro's. Initially, at least, it characteristic a better leap of faith.

What's not to similar to in the ZL1? The seats are a bit soft for a path car. Smaller folk determination go,shift approximately a lot in them, and there's no oh-s***! bar for the passenger. Then there's so as to recognizable Camaro stuff, construct probably matters the majority at what time it moderator to transportation (as opposite to entertainment). The as extended as obviously detained sway in excess of the packaging populace at what time petroleum car was conceived, and so as to translates to a hunkered-in, pillbox sight as of the driver's seat. The windows are far above the ground and quite narrow, and the view lines are complicated, chiefly in excess of the shoulders. All of so as to can create the Camaro additional difficult to drive on filled of activity roads or in crowded locales--perhaps additional power intensive, or tedious.

Do I desire it?

For one replica day at least, the ZL1 is the horsepower king of the pony cars. It has presentation technologies the Mustang GT500 doesn't bring and overall ability that's firm at $55,000. In a number of respects it's a bargain, and at what time you think its civility, fairly an achievement.

That unaccompanied doesn't denote you desire it. Particularly by means of pony cars, the majority of us create predisposed in the direction of a exacting brand. If you're in so as to center come into view and mind merely concerning come again? the car does, you strength desire to believe concerning the ZL1. We're not certain it's improved path car supposed a Mustang Boss 302, but the option is difficult. The ZL1 strength create additional populace happier additional of the time.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Price: $54,995

Available: Spring 2012 (coupe)

Layout: Four-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive coupe and convertible

Drivetrain: 6.2-liter supercharged V8, 580 hp @ 6100 rpm, 556 lb-ft @ 3800; six-speed physical or six-speed torque-converter routine broadcast

Curb Weight: 4,120 lb

0-60 MPH: 3.9 sec (auto), 4.0 sec (manual)

Fuel Economy (EPA): 16 mpg

Top speed: 184 mph (mfr)

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