The most track-capable road car GM has ever sold
We’ve all heard about the bad old days at GM when no car was allowed to challenge the Corvette’s performance supremacy. Those days are long dead. Team Camaro has applied its 1LE handling philosophy to the monstrously powerful ZL1, and the resulting monster is the most track-capable road car GM has ever sold.
Up front, the standard Camaro ZL1’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 still makes 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque because frankly it didn’t need to make more. Being an enthusiast’s car, a six-speed manual is the only transmission on offer. An electronically controlled differential rounds out the powertrain. Out at the corners, magnetic shocks are replaced with Multimatic spool-valve shocks, and like the rest of the suspension, they’re hard-mounted with metal bushings, not rubber. The ride height, front camber, and rear anti-roll bar are all manually adjustable. A bigger grille improves cooling, and dive planes on the front corners and a massive rear wing provide downforce across the car. Equally massive brakes do the stopping.
It’s Best Driver’s Car week! Don’t miss the incredible story of how we chose the 2017 Best Driver’s Car right here, and stay tuned for the World’s Greatest Drag Race, coming soon.
Put it all together, nail the launch, and you’ll see 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and an 11.7-second quarter mile at 123 mph (198 km/h) flat. Going the other way, the 3,837-pound (1,740 kg) ZL1 1LE will stop from 60 mph in a scant 91 feet. Put it on a skidpad, and it’ll pull 1.11 average g. Fling it at the figure eight, and you’ll get a 23.0-second lap at 0.93 average g.
“This car needs five-point harnesses because the dampers are so unforgiving. It’s true this 1LE has incredible grip; however, the compression damping is way too harsh while the rebound damping is just right. I’m not sure where they tuned this, but it clearly did not have a lot of bumps and jumps. The steering is freakishly quick. It took me three corners to calm my hands down, so I didn’t steer into and across the apex. The power seems to be well matched for the chassis, for a change, unlike the Z06. Third gear seemed very tractable and had a wide bandwidth. This feels like what I imagine a ’60s-’70s Trans Am car would be like.” – Chris Walton
“I know Jonny loves this car, but I just can’t warm to it. Probably because I’ve lost all my fillings, and my kidneys are bruised. With the exception of the best roads, the ride in this Camaro is punishing. I’ve encountered smoother paint mixers. I had to remind myself that based on the numbers, this car is fantastic. Endless grip, fade-free brakes, abundant horsepower. But the thing is, I didn’t care. The bouncing was so bad that I found myself reacting to that instead of focusing on sheer act of driving. The Camaro might be brilliant on the track, but I wouldn’t want to drive this to get there.” – Derek Powell
Read about other 2017 Best Driver’s Car contenders:
- Ferrari 488 GTB
- Porsche 911 Turbo S
- Porsche 718 Cayman S
- Lexus LC 500
- Mercedes-AMG GT R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
- Aston Martin DB11
- Nissan GT-R NISMO
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
- McLaren 570GT
“Simply tremendous … tremendous grip, tremendous brakes, and tremendous power. And how about that third pedal? This added that special connection to the vehicle that the Ferrari or 911 Turbo simply can’t match, which is why I ranked it higher than those two fancy (and expensive) machines. With the Camaro, I felt like I—not some fancy software—had a big part in conquering 198.” – Erick Ayapana
“That’s a driver’s car! When the aero and the tires shake hands, it’s a moment of revelation. You are suddenly driving a hard-mounted race car. Unreal. So much power, so much control, so much stopping ability. An absolute monster of a machine. This is an uncaged race car. Being able to actually use all 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque is mind-boggling. I’m not sure how this car isn’t a podium finisher.” – Jonny Lieberman
“Long name, amazing results! Everywhere a competitor put a wheel in the air, the Camaro stuck like glue. There’s a lot of vertical movement in the cabin, but the car just sticks no matter what. It never jumps sideways a foot when it hits a mid-corner bump, never moves around laterally at all. Even when it feels like you’ve carried too much speed into a corner, it sticks. I can’t count how many times I put the throttle flat on the floor. In a 650-hp car this stiff on this bumpy road, that’s seriously impressive. The eLSD takes a little getting used to. If you start to feed in power mid-corner, the car turns in more as the diff gets to work. Steer with the throttle? Yes, please!
“Brakes have huge stopping power and great pedal feel. Squeeze, don’t stomp, and get exactly what you want.
“I thought this car would be too stiff for the road, and that’s coming from someone who drove the Z/28 for a year. I was wrong.” – Scott Evans
“It was not perfectly balanced for me. I’m really trying to smear a little lipstick from the perfection here, but it would go from a little teeny bit of understeer, which was perfect, to a little bit of oversteer, which is almost perfect. But when we put it in the context of what it is, which is a front-engine rear-drive car with 650 horsepower, the traction was incredible. It put down power extremely well, I could drive it with everything turned off, and for me, that’s just so much more satisfying.
“The dampers felt great. Basically I never thought about it. Which means nothing came into my awareness as being, oh, this is too stiff. Or that is too soft. I don’t sense roll. So when I just turn for the corner, it just lies over there. That’s not good terminology because I don’t feel it roll. I’m sure it does, but I don’t feel it. Which means it’s got good damping. When I’m down in the corner, in the middle, I still have a steering response, and I can still tighten it up.
“It was happy coming out of the corkscrew. That’s always hard in a powerful rear drive car. Put the power down. When you’re in a low gear and it’s a hard right. It wants to power oversteer. But this one was pretty damn good. Especially at that power level. See, we have to keep this in context.
“The car generated a tremendous amount of braking force, but for the first time in any high-performance Camaro, it had a long pedal. I was pumping it a little bit, and I remember going up that Corkscrew thinking, ‘Jesus and Heaven above, let these work.’ And boy did they work. It stopped so well. It was very, very pleasing and satisfying how late I could brake in this—what is a relatively heavy car. It’s light for a Camaro, a supercharged Camaro. A bad driver could crash it immediately, but for a reasonable guy who can drive really fast and doesn’t need stability control, this is the ultimate pony car right now.”
|2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (1LE)|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Supercharged 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||376.1 cu in/6,162 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||650 hp @ 6,400 rpm*|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||650 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm*|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||5.9 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||15.4-in vented, 2-pc disc; 14.4-in vented, 2-pc disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||11.0 x 20-in; 12.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES||305/30R19 98Y; 325/30R19 101Y Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R (Tread 100)|
|TRACK, F/R||64.1/62.8 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||188.3 x 74.7 x 52.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.7 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,837 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||55/45%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.5/33.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||43.9/29.9 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||55.0/50.4 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||9.1 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.5|
|QUARTER MILE||11.7 sec @ 123.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||91 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.11 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.0 sec @ 0.93 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||1:34.30 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,900 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$73,090|
|AIRBAGS||8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||19.0 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||14/20/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||241/169 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.20 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|