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2018 Camaro ZL1 BG - image 1

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Base Price
$61,140
Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
Curb Weight (lbs) 3887
City (MPG) TBD
Hwy (MPG) TBD
Horsepower 650@6000
Torque (lb-ft) 640@4400
Wheelbase 110.7
Length (in.) 188.3
Width (in.) 74.7
Height (in.) 52.4

The potent ZL1 is the high-performance variant of the Camaro. Also available in summer-friendly convertible form, the coupe combines aggressive looks and a 650-horsepower supercharged V8 with surprisingly good handling dynamics and ride quality thanks to GM's trick Magnetic Ride Control system.

Recent Changes
For the new ZL1's second model year, the 1LE model receives a new "Extreme Track Packageā€ which includes a rear bench seat, exterior carbon fiber elements, and dynamic spool valve shocks.

Overview
Power for the ZL1 comes from a 6.2-liter V8 engine called LT4 internally that uses a large supercharger to pump out 640 horsepower and 640 lb-ft. of torque. The eight-cylinder's grunt is sent to the rear wheels via either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional ten-speed automatic unit -- a first in Chevrolet's 105-year long history.

Designed to hit the track, the ZL1 benefits from a drive mode selector, six-piston front calipers, Chevrolet's Magnetic Ride Control technology, and an electronic limited-slip differential. It also comes standard with no less than 11 heat exchangers to keep the powertrain cool during hot laps.

To make the ZL1 more aerodynamic, Chevrolet has added a model-specific body kit which brings a bigger front splitter, a deeper grille that increases airflow, a re-shaped hood with a carbon fiber insert, and wider front fenders. The kit also includes new side skirts and a sizable wing on the trunk lid. Finally, the ZL1 rides on 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped by Goodyear Eagle F1 tires that were developed specifically for it.

Inside, the front passengers sit on Recaro bucket seats, and the steering is commanded through a three-spoke flat-bottomed wheel. The trick Performance Data Recorder that's already offered on a handful of high-performance Chevrolet and Cadillac models can be ordered at an extra cost.

Magnetic Ride Control
The trick to the ZL1's excellent ride/handling compromise is GM's Magnetic Ride Control system. This technology uses valve-less damping and Magneto-Rheological fluid technology in its shock absorbers to control resistance. Essentially, the system can magnetize particles to change the flow resistance on the fly and adjust the ride from hard to soft, or soft to hard - mitigating body roll during hard cornering and keeping the ride comfortable while cruising.

The third-gen system uses new twin-wire/dual-coil dampers at all four corners, rather than a single, larger single-core on the outgoing generation. The new system allows for even more precise control and a wider range of comfort levels, allowing up to 1,000 adjustments per second.

Standard and Optional Features
Standard features include heated leather seats with microfiber suede inserts with six-sway power adjustability, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, unique alloy pedal covers, ZL1 door sill plates, Boston Acoustics-provided premium audio, complete with nine speakers, four auxiliary gauges including boost, rear park assist, rear camera display in the mirror and more.

Options include a power sunroof, stripe package, exposed carbon fiber hood insert, interior suede microfiber package (covers steering wheel, shift knob and shift boot), the previously mentioned automatic transmission and forged aluminum wheels.

1LE
Billed as the ultimate track-day Camaro, the ZL1 1LE receives a model-specific suspension built using lightweight components and available dynamic spool valve shocks. Chevrolet points out users can easily dial in race-ready settings at the track, and return to street settings when it's time to go home.

The ZL1 1LE rides on Goodyear tires designed to warm up quickly. They're wrapped around forged aluminum wheels that are an inch wider and an inch smaller in diameter than the standard ZL1's wheels. Importantly, they're lighter than the stock wheels in spite of the added width.

No race car would be complete without comprehensive aero upgrades, and the ZL1 1LE delivers. Notably, there are dive planes on the front bumper used to generate downforce, and a huge carbon fiber wing out back.

Power comes from a supercharged LT4 engine that sends 650 horsepower to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with a rev-matching function. Brembo brakes bring the action to a stop. Performance specifications haven't been released yet.

The ZL1 1LE is lighter than the coupe it's based on, but it isn't a basic, stripped-down race car. The list of standard features includes a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and even a Bose premium sound system.

Key Competitors
The Camaro ZL1 faces competition from the Ford Shelby GT500 and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Other cars that offer the firepower and handling comparable to that of the Camaro ZL1 are far pricier performance machines like the Nissan GT-R and the Porsche 911 Carrera S. Chevrolet's own Corvette could also be seen as a competitor.