Only a few days ago GM released what would be their highest horsepower Camaro to date, the ZL1. Upon arriving at the NYIAS the ZL1 was on the top of the list. It’s safe to say photos do not pay proper homage to this car. First glance reveals a lower, more aggressive stance than its baby brother SS due in part to carbon fiber ground effects on the rockers as well as the carbon fiber front splitter. The ZL1 also manages to earn itself a ZL1 specific lower and upper grille as well as it’s own hood.
As we continue our way back we notice a raised spoiler giving this car a serious track oriented look. It was clear that form over function was the motto on this one, but they managed to pull it all off in a seamlessly beautiful fashion. Aesthetically speaking it’s hard not to love the ZL1. The car has a sort of presence to it that is very rarely felt in the automotive world. It’s hard to believe that you could ever get bored of looking at this car.
One could argue that looks really have no reason why this car is as highly regarded as it is, these people would argue that the 640 horsepower supercharged LT4 is behind all of this. As expected the Camaro team borrowed Corvette’s engine. Unlike the 5th gen, the 6th gen ZL1 received a direct replacement Corvette engine. ZL1 loyalists may be somewhat bitter that they didn’t get their own engine this go around, but the LT4 gives them 640 reasons not to complain.
Arguably the transmission of all things is making the biggest waves with this car. The ZL1 comes with the possibility of a flappy paddle 10-speed auto or a traditional six-speed manual. The 10-speed was built in collaboration with the boys in blue. The 10-speed was designed for the F-150 Raptor, that being said we are still waiting for it to find its home at Ford. We are happy to see that a manual still found its home in the ZL1 as it has been killed off in the CTS-V. Although we love our manuals we expect the 10-speed to out perform the ZL1 on the track.
What is truly great about this car is the limits that it is pushing. As we all know the 6th gen is an Alpha chassis vehicle. The chassis, all things considered, has been relatively untested on the track. This car has all the ingredients to push the Alpha chassis to its absolute limits. With the ATS-V, CTS-V and ZL1 all being of the same chassis heritage it is clear that the ZL1 has the best opportunity to show off for GM.
While looking at the ZL1 you can’t help but notice two huge meats staring you down. The ZL1 comes standard with a 305/30/R20 on the rear and 285/30/R20 tires on the front. These massive tires stopping ability is aided by some six piston Brembo’s up front followed up by a pair of four pistons in the rear. The suspension is also special to this model as it has performance tuned Magnetic Ride Control. Thanks to this system the suspension can alter itself up to 1,000 times per second.
Things inside the car are almost as edgy as things outside. The car’s interior clearly states its purpose yet is still quite nice to live with. With suede Recaro seats standard the driver feels placed in the proper position. Suede as well as carbon fiber accents the interior to give it a stylish yet effective look. Although the ZL1 was built as a racing machine there are very few comforts that you are forced to live without. With a dash display out of a 6th gen SS you feel as though you are amply equipped.
The Zl1 answers a lot of questions, but it opens itself up to many as well. What comes to mind is “What will Camaro do next?”. We all have our hopes set on a Z28, but it’s hard to see how they could improve on the current ZL1. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a stripped down model with another boosted LT based engine. For now we are going to sit here and enjoy the ZL1 because you’d have to force yourself not to.