The pony car war started with Chevy’s response to Ford’s then-successful Mustang. Introduced in 1964, the Mustang created the pony car category and introduced the world to the notion that you could buy a sporting, modestly priced American-made coupe. It took General Motors a couple of years to respond with the Chevrolet Camaro and since then, the battle continues.

While I’ve been holding onto this secret for nearly a week – and, yes, we observe manufacturer embargoes here at VVUZZ – I’m pleased to be able to share with you how Chevy has knocked this one out of the park.

It starts with an LT4 under the hood, making 640 horsepower and 640 pounds of torque. Transmission choices are a ZL1-specific six speed manual or a in house ten-speed automatic that shifts so quickly that it unequivocally makes it the choice for fastest quarter mile or lap times. Yes, even by my ear, it shifts astonishingly quick – dual clutch quick, according to GM’s product chief, Mark Reuss. If you doubt me, or even Mr. Reuss, listen to the rapid fire shifts in this video.

There’s an e-diff under there as well, and if that diff’s successful implementation in the ZR1 and the Vs from Cadillac is any indication, it’ll be brilliant in the ZL1.

Twenty inch Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres are standard, in 285 and 305 widths at the front and rear respectively. There are bigger brakes – steel here, not carbon ceramics like the previous Z/28 – and dampers are GM’s sublime, third-gen magnetic ride.

 

2017-Chevrolet-Camaro-ZL1-019

Since the sixth generation Camaro story is all about it’s lighter weight in all specifications over the 2015 model, the same goes here. The ZL1 is 200 pounds lighter than before. Think about that for a second. Two hundred pounds lighter and more powerful by sixty additional horses. That’s a recipe for entertainment.

Aero changes are noticeable for the most part – the fascia, hood, rockers, and rear spoiler are all obviously ZL1-specifcation – however the front fenders are wider and there is some additional under body aero exclusive to this ultra Camaro.

Interior changes are limited to big, supportive Recaro seats, as well as a suede covered steering wheel and shifter, which may make the ZL1’s steering wheel the best in the business.

After being shown and briefed on this new Camaro last week, I was afforded the opportunity to go for a ride in one of the camouflaged development mules that you may have already seen in spy photos from places like the Nordschliefe. Aaron Link, one of GM’s hotshoe engineers, gave me a flat out ride in ZL1 fitted with the manual transmission.

Indeed, this ZL1 sharper, quicker, and better balanced than any other pony car I’ve experienced, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.

 

Images courtesy of General Motors because they took away my cameras and covered the lenses on my phone with tape.

Published on Mar 16, 2016