Monday, December 26, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Like all iterations of the new Chevrolet Camaro, the ZL1 suffers from mediocre forward visibility. The mail-slot view is akin to that of a WWII pillbox, save that you grasp a suede steering wheel rather than the leather grips to a .50cal Browning. It's fitting, because the fire mission is roughly the same in both cases: kill anything that moves.

Equipped with a wet-sump version of the Corvette Z06's 650 hp supercharged 6.2L V8, Chevrolet's heavy caliber Camaro is anything but subtle. Its arrival is heralded by the shredding of air by a trio of enormous air intakes, its departure by V8 thunder reminiscent of late-sixties Can-Am racing. It is styled like a visual uppercut. It does ridiculous burnouts. It comes with stripes. The seatbelts are red.

But do not mistake this loudly bellowing beast for the overpowered dim-bulb of its predecessor. The Alpha-platform ZL1 isn't just lighter than its fifth-generation ancestor, it's far smarter, more approachable, and considerably quicker around a road course. If there's still a whiff of mullet going on here, it's now more Corvette-infused: think Jordan Taylor on the podium at Le Mans.

"The fifth generation Camaro came with a lot of baggage, for want of a better word," said Lead Development Engineer Aaron Link.

Sharing its Zeta platform with the Australian Holden Commodore, the previous Camaro had dynamic foibles baked right in. Call it down-understeer, an unwillingness to dance that required 305 series tires at all four corners of the track-focused Z/28, best of breed for the fifth-gen car.

Where the Z/28 only had a single job, the ZL1 is required to be jack of all trades. Excellence is expected at the dragstrip, the track, and on the street. Surely, some compromises will need to be made.

Lining up first at the burnout box, the ZL1 delights with an easily accessed line-lock feature that holds the front wheels locked for fifteen seconds. Once smoke starts creeping out from under the hood, simply press the select and cruise control buttons on the left and right of the steering wheel, and lock will release, letting the ZL1 glide forward from the cloud of tire smoke like the Phantom of the Grand Ol' Opry.

Launch control is similarly as easy to use: select either custom or automatic mode, apply braking with the left foot, then mat the throttle. When the Christmas tree lights up, the ZL1 chitters and squeaks down the unprepped surface, hammering suddenly into full power as the rear wheels hook up partway down the track. Launch control's custom mode allows the driver to vary revs in increments of 100rpm, and wheelspin in half-percentages.

The LT4's 650 hp at 6400rpm and 650 lb-ft at 3000rpm don't peg headlines in a world of 707hp supercharged Mopar muscle, but the ZL1 should hold its own. On street tires, Chevrolet claims this car will run a 11.4 second quarter-mile, with a trap speed of 127 mph. Engineers confirmed that Chevrolet had strapped on a set of 18 inch drag radials, and seen elapsed times drop by a further four-tenths of a second. On paper, Dodge's Hellcats are faster. Door-to-door, tenths-to-tenths it's anyone's game.

MGCLS - LAX Car Service

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