Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
Separating a legend from its inspiration can sometimes come as a shock. Like splitting
'Tomcat” back into the two individuals who combined to make up that moniker. Take sweet, docile looking actress Katie Holmes and her shocker in seeking a divorce from her hubby, Tom Cruise, master of all cinematic venues, an original do-it-yourself guy. Holmes, who after five years of marriage, has bloomed in intrigue from her pre-Cruise days, was becoming a legend in her own right, not withstanding the casual divorce bombshell she dropped in late June. That's rather like the 2012 Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro emerging from the shadows of its iconic sibling, Corvette, which inspired some of the mutations that contribute to its current unbridled prowess on the nearest test track or velvet smooth section of sun beaten Arizona asphalt.
Take your pick. Both legends stand tall and victorious in the ranks of vehicular driving fun and games. A major difference is the ability to choose having all that throbbing, surging ability underfoot (and underbutt) for a more modest price and intender sports car logo, despite the Camaro's rejuvenated “pony car” heritage after a few earlier years in hiatus.
To confirm the Camaro's credentials as a stand-alone attention getter and stop-watch blazer, we present some breathtaking numbers to consider. Try going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds in the coupe with automatic (4.0 with manual) and you need some serious sheet metal underneath. More important, you need some 580-horsepower from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine that overshadows even the 405-HP numbers of a Masarati Gran Turismo that requires a $120K-plus debit on the credit card to acquire, compared with the pony's more modest $54,995 sticker. Or plan to grunt up to 184 MPH when roads, or tracks, are clear ahead and think of blowing the doors off an Audi 560-HP R8GT in the process. Why shouldn't the distaff driver rate as well? Remember Cyndi Lauper's song? “Girls just want to have fun.”
How does Chevy achieve such blastoff hunas? For starters, it lists exclusive track-capable technologies including parent General Motors' third generation Magnetic Ride that magnetically locks in desired suspension characteristics so solidly not even the intergalactic pull of an outer space black hole could unglue it. GM states it's the technology's first use on a sports car. And it's one of the technologies that let the ZL1 lap Germany's famed, demonic Nurburgring track in near record time during testing, a guaranteed drool factor for the lead-footed.
But lest you think this delicious thriller could leave one sidelined for daily driving, think again. Despite its subsurface brawn, it won't. Yes, it comes launch-ready off the production line. But, no. It won't leave one wishing for the cushy comfort of say, a Lexus LS. That's because Chevy apparently understands that Camaro drivers – no matter how much fun counts – are likely to use these vehicles for more than a track foray on weekends. As with past Camaro aficionados, they really love driving their cars no matter what's going on outside at the time. To accommodate that requirement, Camaro adds some purely pleasurable options to the package, such as six-speed automatic transmission with TapShift controls (a $1,185 add-on) for the standard transmission challenged, a power-sunroof (at $900) and a suede package with microfiber suede steering wheel and shifter accents (for $500). Want a sportier look than the Camaro ZL1's signature exterior? Add 20-inch, bright aluminum wheels for $470, a stripe package at $470 and exposed-weave carbon fiber hood insert for $600. You're still leaving some ultra sports cars in the dust pricewise. All versions get an all-black interior regardless of exterior color, premium Boston Acoustics audio, Bluetooth, and rear camera plus rear parking assist.
We won't suggest mileage numbers here since this article isn't about oxymorons; it's about raw power, and the desire to claim one's accomplishment achieving them. And while our discussion has centered on the ZL1 coupe, its brethren convertible hits showrooms about now for those who prefer their 100-degree Fahrenheit summer days under a broiling sun. Either way, it has the legs to glorify summertime driving as no other vehicle can. We think this is one pony car that should add “stallion” to its descriptor.
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