Driven press the steering wheel’s cruise control and choose buttons to release the front brakes, then roll out toward the starting tree till the 1st set of amber staging lights pop on. We change the launchcontrol system, dropping launch rpm and somewhat rising wheel slip, then creep forward till the second set of staging lights turns on. Our right foot flattens the accelerator, and our left foot comes off the brake pedal just before the tree’s green light comes on. The ZL1 claws at the black pavement for a second, then tosses us back in our Recaro as it hauls toward the end of the strip, shimmying side to side between fuel cut upshifts. Chevy claims the manual equipped ZL1 will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and turn a quarter mile in 11.8 seconds at 125 mph, the automatic equipped ZL1 will allegedly speed up from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and turn an quicker quarter mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph.
The obvious performance gap between the automatic and manual equipped cars has us wanting to know more about this all new 10-speed, which will probably be optioned on half of all new ZL1s sold and be used in seven other General Motors vehicles by 2018. “I’d pick the auto,” says Aaron Link, lead development engineer for Camaro. “It really is that more fun.” Right, then. We jump in a ZL1 with auto transmission and start our drive up Angeles Crest. Chevy starts with the base 10-speed transmission, which it shares with Ford, and upgrades the ZL1’s gear box with distinctive hardware, a new torque converter, more robust clutches and planetary carrier parts, and other pieces more able of handling the car’s outrageous power. The transmission then gets passed to Chevy’s calibration team, which tunes the software to mitigate any wandering or searching you may expect from a complex 10-speed auto, creating shift logic systems like “lift foot gear hold” mode, which holds a gear aggressively to prevent extreme upshifts or premature downshifts. “The calibration work to get you the best gear at all times helped prevent shift busyness,” says Oppenheiser. Supposedly the shifts from this 10-speed are 100 milliseconds faster than dual clutch transmissions from McLaren and Porsche, and Oppenheiser says using completely electronic changing would’ve made shifts quicker, but doing so would’ve meant no shift paddles. We would not minded. Climbing through San Bernardino National Forest on Angeles Crest Highway, we left the ZL1 in full auto mode and never once fault it, the transmission is intelligent, exact, and as smooth as it’s snappy. On this narrow, writhing road, the ZL1 assertively dives into turns and
A six speed manual transmission comes standard, as does a six piston front brake setup from Brembo.
2017 stays placed through long, fast corners. When we overcook the brakes going into a turn, the rear end slides but recovers quickly, thanks in part to the Goodyear tires that went through seven variants before being prepared. The magnetically adaptable shocks now use two interior coils instead of one, decreasing inertia and improving reaction times, also as a dual wire system that lets electrical current to not only go in to but also be pulled out of the fluid filled damper for 40 faster damping answer. The Recaro seats are just like those from the last ZL1, but Chevy carved out pockets from the bottoms so your right elbow does not hit one bolster throughout changing and your left elbow does not hit the other bolster throughout violent steering. The variable steering percentage quickens toward lock, so it is easy to turn tightly in small overlooks when we stop to take pictures in the foggy, snow dusted forest. The Camaro’s inherent visibility issues do not keep us from enjoying our haul through the evergreens, ending up near the
entrance to Willow Springs. On Big Willow’s front straight, we get the Camaro up to 147 mph before squeezing the brakes and lightly trail braking into Turn 1. With an overbuilt chassis that’s rarely overwhelmed and some useful electronic nannies that keep you from killing yourself, the ZL1 is unshakably confident, lap after lap after lap. The five tier Performance Traction Management PTM system acts as a deft invisible hand that keeps you and the ZL1 on the track by silently cutting power and softly pushing the car back from the ragged edge of the road course, the higher the PTM mode, the less the hand helps. We run around in Sport 2, one below full on Race mode. Sport two lets the ZL1’s rear wag under hard braking but keeps the car on track when its suspension unloads as we hop over a ridge in the center of Turn 6. Another reason the ZL1 stays so placed on the track is its electronically controlled limited slip diff, which uses a powerful hydraulic pump to lock the rear end for improved
We were impressed by this Camaro’s predecessor, but there is no chance that car could keep up with this one around Willow Springs.
there is nothing quite as menacing as the face of a street legal race car approaching quickly in your rear view. As we brake hard before navigating the Autdromo Internacional do Algarve’s wicked tight Torre VIP hairpin, the car stalking me from behind edges ever closer. it seems positively sinister, with its Jaws esque grill inspired by the famous 300 SL Panamericana road racer, emphasized by piercing LED eyebrows. it is also the same car I have been hustling around the circuit: the new MercedesAMG GT R. In the pits before my 1st taste of the GT R at speed, I reach waaaaaay down into the black footwell for the manual seat modification and push the carbonfiber can all the way back to the rear firewall. Cabin space is restricted, and the tightest part grabs your bum, shrinking your waist size a couple of inches. do not think about asking for alleviation like shoulder pads, extra lumbar support, or a minor height alignment. What you see is what you feel, so grit your teeth, pull out that fly yellow safety belt, and buckle up. Portimo, as the Algarve circuit is more usually recognized, is not some airfield autocross with two dozen cones and big runoff regions. it is a certified F1 track, and it’s fast – fast. At one point the speedometer flashed 160 mph shortly at the end of the downhill start finish straight. Making me more nervous is the fact I will be sandwiched between two pros throughout my initial hot laps. Driving the lead car is former DTM series champ Bernd Schneider, while at the wheel of the car sits the man who calls himself the Ringmeister, one of AMG’s top gun drivers.