Chevy’s latest and greatest Camaro evolution is the ZL1 — a car SO powerful and so, so fast that it may shame any Mustang GT350R and even the 707HP Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
Those include the 640Hp LT4 engine derived from the latest Cadillac CTS-V, but with new internals like a flat-plane crankshaft to really howl like a racecar for the first time.
Also in the mix? A standard six-speed stick and the available 10-speed automatic on its first-ever outing in a General Motors car. This new autobox evolves the incredible strength of the available eight-speed auto in the Corvette Z06 — promising surreal levels of in-gear power at all times at any throttle aperture. That Corvette drivetrain surprised even its chief engineer on the first timed sprints: 2.95-seconds to 60-mph beats even the quickest-shifting human/launch control combination in the stickshift model by more than 0.3-seconds.
This slick new auto speaks to the ZL1’s ultimate purpose in the Camaro line. Where the upcoming new Z/28 will stay a track-attack weapon with racing suspension and corner pace, the ZL1 is a road-oriented model that just happens to be Godzilla-fast.
The sprint times for the new ZL1 are not yet known or even rumored, but we’ll start the speculation at 3.5-seconds. For a rear-drive vehicle that might even have the top down during that sprint!? Unreal!
The pace is sure to be a worry for the Mustang folks, and the SRT team as well.
The new ZL1 arrives in late 2016 as a 2017 model-year, with pricing likely in the $53k ballpark to start.
2017 Chevrolet CAMARO ZL1 Convertible
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Debuts at New York Auto Show
Unprecedented levels of refinement, track capability and drag-strip performance
DETROIT – The 2017 Camaro ZL1 is poised to challenge the most advanced sports coupes in the world in any measure – with unprecedented levels of technology, refinement, track capability and straight-line acceleration.
“The Camaro ZL1 is designed to excel at everything,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development. “It’s a 2+2 coupe offering incredible performance – acceleration, handling and braking – with the highest levels of technology and perfect chassis damping, making it suitable for everyday driving. It will compare well to any sports coupe, at any price and in any setting.”
Acceleration for the ZL1 is delivered with a new supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine estimated at 640 hp (477 kW), and either a six-speed manual transmission with active rev matching or an all-new 10-speed automatic. Handling capability starts with the lightweight, stiffer structure of the all-new sixth-Gen Camaro, married with Magnetic Ride suspension and an electronic limited-slip differential. Standard technologies include Driver Mode Selector, dual-mode exhaust and advanced connectivity features.
The Camaro ZL1 goes on sale late this year.
Designed for Performance
Functionality defines the Camaro ZL1’s form, with the exterior shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel testing and on-track validation to improve aerodynamics and cooling for track use. Accordingly, its exterior elements all play a part in managing airflow over, under and through the ZL1.
“The design supports the Camaro ZL1’s exceptional performance and does so with compelling style,” said John Mack, Camaro exterior design manager. “From every angle, the elements coalesce to give the car a purposeful, super aggressive attitude.”
The lower grille opening, for example, offers greater airflow compared to the Camaro SS, and the upper grille incorporates a new version of the “flow-tie” open bowtie insignia. There’s also a new hood, with a carbon fiber insert and heat extractor that pulls hot air from the engine compartment. Additional changes include a larger front splitter, unique rockers, a wing-style rear spoiler and wider front fenders – all tuned to improve aerodynamics for greater high-speed stability.
Inside, there are standard Recaro front seats, along with a sueded flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob. Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder is available.
Fast with finesse
A cohesive suite of performance technologies tailors ZL1’s performance for street and track. Features include an updated Magnetic Ride suspension, Performance Traction Management, electronic limited-slip differential, Custom Launch Control and Driver Mode Selector. It also has a stronger power-to-weight ratio than its predecessor, weighing 200 pounds less, while offering approximately 60 more horsepower and 80 more pound-feet of torque.
The result is a one-of-a-kind driving experience.
“Driving the Camaro ZL1 is best described as ‘fast with finesse,’” said Reuss. “It is beautifully balanced, with perfect damping and isolation for optimal performance and driver confidence in virtually any situation – from the Pacific Coast Highway to Willow Springs to Pomona.”
Additional chassis features include:
- Unique 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear tires
- Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro to offer exceptional grip on the track
- Brembo brakes with six-piston monobloc front calipers – featuring the ZL1 logo – and massive, 15.35-inch (390 mm) two-piece front rotors.
Supercharged performance and new 10-speed automatic
Underhood, the ZL1 features a supercharged LT4 6.2L V-8 Small Block engine, with intake and exhaust systems tailored for Camaro. It is rated at an estimated 640 horsepower (477 kW) and 640 lb-ft of torque (868 Nm).
The LT4 is backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission or all-new, available paddle-shift 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed automatic has 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears. It enables the LT4 engine to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration, particularly when exiting corners, for quicker laps and lightning-quick responses on both up- and down-shifts.
This is the first Chevrolet application of the new quick-shift 10-speed, with unique calibrations and hardware developed exclusively for the ZL1. By the end 2018, GM will introduce the new 10-speed automatic in eight vehicle models.
Finally – and unlike some competitors – there’s no need to purchase an optional package to make the ZL1 track ready. Track capability comes standard, with features including an impressive 11 heat exchangers for optimal powertrain cooling.
UPDATE: Chevrolet today revealed the 2017 Camaro ZL1 convertible. It offers comparable performance to the coupe model, thanks to the Camaro’s modular and rigid body architecture, which was designed at the outset to support a high-performance convertible. As a result, only a few minor structural differences separate the coupe and convertible models, enabling the coupe’s track-honed chassis and driver control systems to carry over unchanged. The Camaro ZL1 convertible goes on sale in early 2017.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
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