The horsepower wars continue in Detroit, as Chevrolet has announced a new Camaro, the ZL 1. In response to the Ford Mustang GT500, the supercharged, 6.2 liter V-8 powered screamer will pump out 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm, beating out its blue-oval rival’s 5.4 liter, 550 horse power plant.
Though power, acceleration weight, and other measurements have yet to be released by Chevy, head designer Al Oppenheiser projects the ZL 1 to challenge not only the burly Ford pony car, but also that highest of echelons, the supercars. He rates the new Camaro as more power than the Ferrari 458 Italia, more torque than an Aston Martin DB9 and a power to weight ratio topping that of the Porsche 911 GTS. High praise, though expected from the father of such a machine, means Chevy isn’t looking to mess around.
The LFA engine is a close sibling to the motor powering Caddilac’s CTS-V rocket ship, but the Bowtie boys went at it with every tool in the box to make it the Camaro’s own. Besides the supercharger, a Roots-type Eaton Twin Votices Series blower sucking air through a prominent hood splitter, reportedly one third of the engine has been tweaked in some way to make this street devil track ready when ever you feel the need to truly shred pavement. The steering has been changed to electric assist from power steering, so as to allow more engine power to the supercharger and thus the wheels. 20-inch wheels all around wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Superca r(305 width in the back and 285 up front) rubber grip the road and six-piston Brembos brakes up front (four-piston in back) allow the car to stop on a dime. Or so the company hopes.
The new Camaro is available in either an automatic or six-speed manual that has 30% more torque capacity than its little brother, the SS. The new Tremec stick shift reportedly has higher shift quality while not taking away from the vitality of the gear change. The automatic is the same 6L90 found in everything from the Hummer H2 and CTS-V, a six-speed manu-matic job, but has been fiddled with to make it a viable option for enthusiasts. Three modes, Drive, Sport and Manual, adjust launch and gear shift aggressiveness. Drive starts in 2nd gear, Sport in first with more hardcore shifting, and Manual has the driver work the shifter and gear changes are as fast as possible.
Corvette parts in the chassis and suspension are the de rigueur in this new bad boy, including the Performance Traction Management system found on the ZR1 ‘Vette that adjusts traction control, suspension damping depending on conditions.
Projected to come in north of $50,000 on the price tag, the Camaro ZL 1is a monster to behold, and a shot across the bow of Ford as well as the European big boys. Whether the car will have the same polish as the Porsches, Ferraris and Astons of the world remains to be seen, but Chevrolet is plainly not backing down from any fight.