It’s a 2012 ZL1 Camaro.
That’s correct, Chevrolet is banking on this model’s modest price ($54,095) and what it says is excellent performance to take on the Audi R8 GT ($196,800), Maserati Gran Turismo ($122,800) and Mercedes SLS AMG ($185,750).
“From the original Camaro to the current Corvette ZR1, Chevrolet has a long history of delivering world-class cars that outperformed competitors at several times the price,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing. “The ZL1 is no exception. There are very few cars at any price that can match the power, features, and track-capability of the Camaro ZL1.”
And there are few cars that come with a venerable reputation in American automotive history as the Chevy Camaro.
Plus, there is nothing more “American” than apple pie, Chevrolet and baseball.
Of course, speed, sharp handling and power help.
It zooms from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds (automatic) and 4 seconds (manual), with top speeds of 184 (automatic) and 180 (manual).
So what’s behind this powerful car?
How about a supercharged 6.2L engine that is SAE-rated at 580 hp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque.
What that and much more means is that Chevy has made the 2012 ZL1 the most-powerful production Camaro ever.
It comes with the dual-mode exhaust system.
Customers have a choice between a six-speed manual or an automatic.
So it’s a Camaro on adrenalin, but how does it compare to the three other cars mentioned earlier?
“With 0 to 60 taking less than four seconds, and a top speed in excess of 180 mph, the power and acceleration of the Camaro ZL1 rivals many supercars,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “And, horsepower is only half of the story, as the most significant measurement of the ZL1’s potential is lapping the Nurburgring in 7:41.27. That is a great testament to the power, braking, grip, and balance of the Camaro ZL1, and to the well-rounded performance of the ZL1 that sets the bar for the sports-car segment.”
Before you scoff at the super-car claim, there is more information to consider.
The Camaro ZL1 features several track-capable technologies that are standard.
The Camaro ZL1 is the first sports car to feature the third-generation of Magnetic Ride, which is an advanced suspension system that makes the car very easy to handle, to corner, etc.
“Traditional suspension systems at some point compromise ride quality for road-holding grip and body control,” Oppenheiser said. “With Magnetic Ride Control, we can offer customers the best of both worlds: A comfortable ride that makes the ZL1 appropriate as a daily driver and the incredibly precise body control that makes the ZL1 so enjoyable on the track.”
Another standard feature is the Camaro ZL1 is Performance Traction Management that was first introduced on the Corvette ZR1.
Chevy says this system “integrates magnetic ride control, launch control, traction control, electronic stability control and electric power steering response to enhance performance.”
“With Performance Traction Management, the launch control feature (manual transmission only) automatically modulates engine torque for the best-possible acceleration without excessive wheel spin,” according to Chevy. “When the driver pushes the throttle to the floor, the system holds a predetermined engine speed until the driver releases the clutch. Then, the system modulates engine torque 1,000 times per second to maximize the available traction.
“Similarly, on a road course, the driver can apply full throttle when exiting a corner and Performance Traction Management will automatically manage acceleration dynamics to maximize exit speed based on available traction.”
Follow all that?
It’s less complicated to say that the Camaro ZL1 has been engineered to be track-capable from the factory, and then to give you more technical details about more standard equipment: a rear-differential cooler, an integrated engine- and transmission-oil cooler, and brake-cooling ducts.
Not bad for standard equipment, which is something Chevy notes when it says, “The ZL1 offers many technologies and features not available on the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500.”
Ouch. A little competition never hurt anyone.
The Camaro ZL1 Coupe is already offered at some dealerships. Prices will vary, but I found a new one online at a San Francisco dealership for $54,095.
If you live in a moderate climate, I would opt for the convertible. Why buy a premium coupe and not be able to enjoy a drive along the coast, or a mountain road, etc.?
And, no, I won’t bother with gas mileage. If you are concerned about that, buy a Prius, Volt, Leaf, MiEV or some other electric or hybrid vehicle.