(Photos: General Motors) The Chevrolet Camaro has certainly shed most of it’s sketchy, questionable past with the sixth-generation. The four-cylinder is nothing to be ashamed of and is more than enough for day-to-day driving. The V6 will surprise the hell out of you and makes for a very balanced track-day machine. The standard V8-powered SS models have more than enough grunt to get you into or out of trouble and are a riot to rip through the gears with, and as we found out during some track time last fall, the 1LE Performance Package just adds to the sharpness and precision that Camaro has become renowned for. So where do you go from that kind of base? Up.
In the current Camaro hierarchy, the ZL1 is the top-dog up for sale. It’s supercharged 6.4L LT-4 engine cranks out a nice 650 horsepower and 650 ft/lbs of torque and is backed either by a six-speed manual with active rev matching or a new 10-speed automatic…it’s not Hellcat numbers, but it’s still enough to raise your pulse and scare the meek, and when you take into consideration the weight savings over the big Dodge, you start to see what Chevrolet’s approach is. FCA’s Hellcat twins are sledgehammers, and the Camaro ZL-1 is meant to be more of a razor blade. But what if you want a surgical scalpel? That’s where this beast comes into play: the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE Performance Package. Out and out grunt, meet the ability to turn a corner.
Ok, so what makes the Camaro ZL1 1LE that much more of a car compared to the standard ZL1? We will let Chevrolet explain here:
- Aerodynamics: New aero features including a carbon fiber rear wing, specific air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia produce grip-generating downforce to help the car stick harder and drive faster in turns.
- Adjustable suspension: The ZL1 1LE features racing-derived, lightweight Multimatic DSSV® (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers front and rear for exceptional wheel and vehicle control. The front-end ride height is adjustable with the front dampers, which are used with all-new, adjustable camber plates. The rear stabilizer bar also offers three-way adjustability. All of the components are designed for quick changes at the track for optimal performance and a quick return to street settings when the track day ends.
- Wheels and tires: New, lightweight forged aluminum wheels are an inch wider but an inch smaller in diameter, front and rear, than standard ZL1 wheels and are used with new Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires (305 series front, 325 series rear) that deliver max lateral grip of 1.10g. Developed exclusively for the Camaro ZL1 1LE, the 3R tires are designed to warm up faster to help maintain more consistent grip and speed, lap after lap. The overall footprint grows approximately 10 percent over the ZL1, but the wheel-and-tire package weighs about 1.5 pounds (3.3 kg) less per corner.
- Lighter weight: The lighter wheels and dampers, along with reduced thickness rear glass and a fixed-back rear seat, contribute to an approximately 60-pound (27 kg) lower curb weight than a standard ZL1 Coupe.
So is all of this really substantial, or is it just hot-looking parts and a big price tag? According to Chevrolet, in testing at their 2.9 mile, 18-turn Milford Proving Grounds test track, the ZL1 1LE thumped the standard ZL1 by three seconds. Cars will go on sale later this year, with pricing being announced closer to the on-sale date.
Ford brings out a track-day weapon with the GT350, Chevrolet answers with the ZL1 1LE. FCA is bringing out a dragstrip terror with the Challenger SRT Demon…hmm…you know something? There is still one more model name that Chevrolet hasn’t used yet. Z/28. We didn’t forget our time with the Drag Race Development prototypes, and with the Demon on the way, let’s just say we have a hunch or two…