Friday, February 11, 2011

Chicago Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

It’s an epic, decades-long battle waged in showrooms, at the race track, at stoplights, and in internet forums. Chevrolet versus Ford, Camaro versus Mustang. Commencing in the mid-’60s, the clash has been marked by tit-for-tat product introductions, as each brand seeks to match its competitor in every conceivable pony-car niche. Currently, the cars face off in the V-6, V-8, and droptop arenas, but the latest Camaro has ceded the high-performance crown to the Mustang and the brutal, 550-horse Shelby GT500. That ends now.

Welcome the reborn Camaro ZL1.

It’s been a bit of an open secret that GM was working on a high-po Camaro to slot above the 426-hp SS model. Spy photos revealed the car’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, and most assumed that car would wear the storied Z28 badge. But Chevy’s product planners had something different in mind, and we now know the car will wear the reclaimed ZL1 moniker. (SLP Performance previously held the rights to the historic alphanumerics.)

A quick look back is in order. The 1969 Camaro ZL-1 was one of the ass-kickingest machines to ever roll out of Detroit. Dressed up in nothing fancier than base Camaro trim—including dog-dish hubcaps—that original ZL-1 looked like a measly six-cylinder wimp. Without even an engine-designation badge, its only real giveaway was the factory-installed cowl-induction hood. (Well, until you started it up and brought the aluminum big-block 427 to life.) The car was only available via Central Office Production Order (COPO), which installed the 427 option in the Camaro shell. Just 69 copies were built, and the ZL-1’s official 430-horse output figure was grossly underrated, mainly for insurance purposes. It was a quarter-mile king, and is among the quickest factory-built and street-legal beasts ever created.

Back in the present, the 2012 ZL1 aims to grow the legend, and it comes well prepared with a supercharged LSA V-8, borrowed from the Cadillac CTS-V. Producing an estimated 550 hp—a figure on par with the actual output of the original—and 550 lb-ft of torque from its force-fed 6.2 liters, this burly Camaro is seemingly built to terrorize drag strips rather than road courses, so perhaps ZL1 is more appropriate than Z28. (The Z28 was a racer, after all, competing and winning in Trans-Am.) A short-throw, six-speed Tremec manual is the only transmission.

Aiding driveline longevity and pavement adhesion are a beefed-up driveshaft and differential with asymmetrical half-shafts; the latter twist fat, 305-width ZL1-specific Goodyear Supercar F1 gumballs. The 20-inch forged wheels are 10 inches wide in the front and 11 in the rear, but the overall wheel-and-tire package is 22 pounds lighter than the Camaro SS's narrower 20-inch setup. We (conservatively) estimate the ZL1 will cover the 0-to-60-mph run in four seconds flat, while 0 to 100 mph should be accomplished in 9.9 seconds and the quarter-mile in 12.5. Monstrous two-piece Brembo rotors—measuring 14.6 inches in the front and 14.4 in the rear, and squeezed by six- and four-piston calipers—are the centerpieces of the braking system. The latest adaptive magnetorheological shocks sit at all four corners, and drivers can choose between Tour and Sport settings. The ZL1 also marks the introduction of a new electric power-steering system. Weight is said to be about the same as the Camaro SS's—the stronger driveline added weight, but some was pulled out with stuff like the wheels and hood, so it's roughly a wash—which puts this top-spec Camaro at 3900 pounds or so.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

No comments:

Post a Comment