2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Gets OfficialMarch 15th, 2016
The 2016 Chevy Camaro is already an impressive car, and now Chevy made it just that better, with the official announcement of the performance-oriented Camaro ZL1. I’ve had to bite my tongue about this announcement for almost a week now, after Chevy gave me an up-close look at the new ZL1, and then sent me around Nevada’s Spring Mountain racetrack for a hot lap in one of the prototypes, with Chevy’s Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development behind the wheel. All I can say is that it’s bonkers in the best possible way.
The new Camaro ZL1 packs everything that’s awesome about the 6th-gen Camaro – a stiff chassis, tight steering, amazing handling and suspension – and amps it up to 11, thanks to the wonders of supercharging. Roaring beneath the hood of the ZL1 is a 6.2-liter LT4 V8 that’s been supercharged to deliver 640 hp and 640 lb-ft. of torque. This is the same engine found under the hood of the Corvette Z06 and the Cadillac CTS-V.
That engine is paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a brand new 10-speed automatic, which performed like a boss as we flew around the racetrack. As much fun as a manual can be, there’s no denying that a quick automatic with tight gearing can beat all but the best pro drivers on the track. Also, while I didn’t get to drive it on the street – Chevy made it clear that they want the ZL1 to not just be a great track car, but one you can drive home every day.
There are also lots of useful aero and airflow bits, including a grille with huge openings that not only serves a purpose, but looks really cool. Even the Chevy bowtie logo has been opened up to allow airflow. There’s a massive splitter up front, a heat extractor on the hood, widened front fenders, and a substantial rear wing to help keep it planted. And judging from my brief experience on the track, those bits all did their job brilliantly. I couldn’t believe how flat we went through turns, and just how much grip we had as we cornered.
Inside, there are sporty and supportive Recaro seats, and a D-shaped sueded steering wheel, and the whole interior has a look that just means business, with a mix of sueded surfaces and red sport stitching set amongst the Camaro’s bold and angular lines.
The ZL1 has also been fitted with other enhancements, including a tweaked Magnetic Ride suspension system, an electronic limited-slip diff, 20-inch aluminum wheels shod with sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and massive Brembo brakes – yes, those front rotors are a whopping 15.35″ in diameter. While I don’t have any pictures I can share, there was something immensely satisfying about seeing those flaming red hot discs coming into the pit at the end of a long day of hot laps.