Automotive

Chevrolet pitches 640-hp Camaro ZL1 as ultimate all-round pony car

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is packing a 640-hp supercharged V8
The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is packing a 640-hp supercharged V8
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The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is packing a 640-hp supercharged V8
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The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is packing a 640-hp supercharged V8
The big Brembo brakes are specific to the ZL1 package
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The big Brembo brakes are specific to the ZL1 package
The rear wing and fenders are designed to improve high speed stability
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The rear wing and fenders are designed to improve high speed stability
Recaro buckets join a new suede wheel in the ZL1's more performance-oriented interior setup
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Recaro buckets join a new suede wheel in the ZL1's more performance-oriented interior setup
The ZL1 uses a hollowed-out flow-tie instead of the normal Chevrolet bowtie badge
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The ZL1 uses a hollowed-out flow-tie instead of the normal Chevrolet bowtie badge
The car's bigger rear wing is a product of over 100 hours spent on the track and in the wind tunnel
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The car's bigger rear wing is a product of over 100 hours spent on the track and in the wind tunnel
A suede wheel is designed to soak up the sweat when you're going hard
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A suede wheel is designed to soak up the sweat when you're going hard
The Camaro's interior is largely unchanged from the regular SS' setup
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The Camaro's interior is largely unchanged from the regular SS' setup

As muscle cars move away from their unrefined past in search of broader appeal and better handling, the number of choices facing prospective buyers continues to grow. People keen on the Chevrolet Camaro already have to decide between four-, six- and eight-cylinder options, but the decision just became more difficult with the addition of the 640-hp, supercharged ZL1, a car designed to be the perfect all-rounder for fans of powerful pony cars.

Central to the appeal of the new ZL1 is its supercharged V8 motor. Punching out 640 hp (477 kW), the 6.2-liter motor is a massive 138 kW (185 hp) more powerful than the naturally aspirated mill in the regular Camaro SS, putting it in the same league as tuner specials like the Callaway SC610.

The rear wing and fenders are designed to improve high speed stability
The rear wing and fenders are designed to improve high speed stability

To make the most of all that grunt, the ZL1's exterior has been toughened up to reflect the extra horsepower lurking under the hood. The traditional Chevrolet bowtie badge has been replaced by a hollow "flow-tie" so every last bit of air rushing into the grille makes it through to the motor. The lower grille has also been redesigned to provide more cooling than the Camaro SS' lower bumper can manage.

In an attempt to cut down on weight, the bonnet has a carbon fiber section to accompany the new vents and heat extractor cooling the engine from above.

Aside from keeping the motor cool, the new Camaro's bodykit has been designed to create more downforce. Chevy is coy about just how much downforce the big front splitter, unique rockers, wide front end and big wing create, although it claims to have spent over 100 hours in the wind tunnel and on the track honing the car's shape.

Unsurprisingly, Chevrolet's handling upgrades extend beyond a new aero package. The standard Camaro's Magnetic Ride Control system has been updated, and traction control, the car's electronic limited slip differential and launch control have all been tweaked in the transition from SS to ZL1.

Recaro buckets join a new suede wheel in the ZL1's more performance-oriented interior setup
Recaro buckets join a new suede wheel in the ZL1's more performance-oriented interior setup

Away from the software side of things, the car sits on 20-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. With a 285 section front and massive 305 section at the rear, those tires are almost as wide as the Michelins fitted to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Lurking behind the car's forged aluminum wheels are 390 mm (15.35 inch) front rotors, grabbed by Brembo six-piston monobloc calipers.

So far, the ZL1 sounds like a focused, cohesive package for daily drivers keen to do some track work, but there's one element of the new package that seems uncharacteristically pedestrian. Alongside the standard six-speed manual gearbox is Chevrolet's new 10-speed auto. Given the car's 868 Nm (640 lb-ft) of torque, flexibility and in-gear acceleration aren't likely to be an issue, so we have to ask, why so many gears?

Our tip would be to spec the manual for now, and leave the auto to Silverado and Malibu buyers when it reaches them. After all, the auto's shift lever wouldn't match the new suede steering wheel and Recaro buckets.

The ZL1 will go on sale later this year, and will be displayed at the New York Auto Show.

Source: Chevrolet

9 comments
Nathan Salter
What baffles me is not in the mufflers for this thing it's the fact that we're still putting these huge engines in these cars. What does it get for mileage? The rest of the world is desperately trying to prevent the mothership from over heating and the US is still racing towards larger and more gas guzzling muscle cars. Cars are to the planet what AIDS is to the human body. Full speed ahead for the Empire.
Daishi
I wonder what roads would be like if you gave every driver a 640 HP car with the traction control off for a day. I've never driven a car with that much power but I'm guessing you could probably light the tires up in mostly any gear.
guzmanchinky
I'm sure it is SUCH a blast, but I can't help wondering if these cars' days are seriously numbered. I mean, a 6 seat electric car can outrun it. Easily. Once they come up with quick charging batteries, isn't the concept of revving up an engine and a super complex transmission to finally get power to the tires going the way of the dodo?
Chevypower
There's always a whiney baby liberal on the comments section. This Canaro will get better fuel economy on the highway than a Santa Fe. There won't be too many out there, and people won't use them as a daily driver. So get in your Prius and be quiet.
Canis Dirus
What to do with 300 extra horsepower? Not much. As it stands right now, only the Corvette can match Japanese and European sports cars in an all around match up. Hopefully the Camaro has some serious engineering besides the engine, because it takes a lot more to make a really great sports car.
dreamer.redeemer
So, based on the definition of "pony car" per Wikipedia, this is expected to be priced under $19k...? Somehow I doubt that.
Grunchy
Lots of gears = narrow powerband. 10 speeds is no more than your typical tractor trailer. Also, narrow powerband = better fuel efficiency. 1 liter of gasoline = 8.9 kWh, so you can figure out how expensive gasoline is to electricity, comparatively. If a fillup is 75 litres, that's about 666 kWh. Depending on local prices you are likely to do better with electric: for me it's about 80 cents Cdn per litre vs about 5 cents Cdn per kWh. So a gas fillup is $60 whereas an equivalent electricity fillup is $33.30. Mind you, gas can last for months before it goes 'bad', whereas electricity stored in batteries is slowly yet constantly depleting due to internal resistance. Neither is really an issue with a daily driver. Electric vs gas is rapidly becoming like fuel injected vs carbureted. Personally speaking, I still have several carbureted vehicles which are quirky and interesting, but I acknowledge are hard on the environment, inefficient, and maintenance-intensive. One day soon that's how we will regard all gas-powered cars.
Captain Danger
@ guzmanchinky So what 6 seat electric car will easily out run this car. The Camaro will have a 0-60 time of less than 4 seconds and probably run the 1/4 in the mid to high 11's and have a top speed north of 160. Supply some data along with your comments.
Michael Wilson
Camaros like this are meant for enthusiasts and priced as such. This car goes fast in a straight line, corners well and has excellent grip. The grip numbers on this camaro easily outpace European exotics from companies like Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini costing 2-3x as much. Plus, it comes with a real manual gearbox!!!!! Sorry folks but electrics still are not quite there yet. You'd be a fool not to admit the Tesla would out-sprint this car to 60, but it still cannot complete a spirited lap around a track because of the heavy weight of batteries or the fact that electric motors run all out overheat quickly. Plus, range. The tech is coming, but it is still not yet there. I follow Formula E races, as the tech in those cars matter, because as of current, they're still swapping cars between laps. The new design is supposed to integrate a better battery pack and higher speeds, but it will be awhile before battery chemistry catches up with fossil fuel energy density.
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