2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The potent ZL1 is the high-performance variant of the Chevrolet 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.
Power for the ZL1 comes from a 6.2-liter V8 engine called LT4 internally that uses a large supercharger to pump out 650 horsepower and 650 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.
The trick to the ZL1's excellent ride/handling compromise is the aforementioned 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.
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 high-tech Performance Data Recorder already offered on a handful of high-performance Chevrolet and Cadillac models can be ordered at an extra cost.
Standard and optional features
Highlights from the list of standard features include heated, six-way power-adjustable leather seats with microfiber suede inserts, leather upholstery on the steering wheel and the shift knob, unique alloy pedal covers, a nine-speaker sound system from Boston Acoustics, additional gauges, and rear parking sensors.
The list of options includes a power sunroof (for the coupe model only), a stripe package, an exposed carbon fiber hood insert, the 10-speed automatic transmission, and forged aluminum wheels.
Adding the optional 1LE package creates what Chevrolet calls the ultimate track-day Camaro. The ZL1 1LE receives a model-specific, fully-adjustable suspension system. 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.
The Camaro ZL1 faces competition from 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.