2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE: Pain and gain

The new Chevy sheds some weight and will shred seconds from lap times. It burns rubber like never before and is a lethal track-day weapon
By Dejan Jovanovic, Features Writer
|
March 05, 2017
The ZL1 1LE is three seconds quicker around GM’s Milford Proving Grounds than the ZL1
The ZL1 1LE is three seconds quicker around GM’s Milford Proving Grounds than the ZL1(1/3)
You want downforce? You got it. That’s a massive carbon fibre wing that’ll help keep this Chevy glued to the track
You want downforce? You got it. That’s a massive carbon fibre wing that’ll help keep this Chevy glued to the track(2/3)
Supplied
Supplied(3/3)

It seems that muscle cars have discovered the world of calisthenics — all lean, lithe, never go anywhere near Special 95.

While the guys at Mopar continue to pursue brute strength preparing to unleash the Dodge Demon, a straight-line specialist with slicks on the back and front-runner skinnies, Ford with the Shelby GT350R and now Chevrolet with the latest Camaro ZL1 1LE, are finessing the corners.

With the 1LE track package the wildest Camaro since the 1967 original is a worthy commemoration of the nameplate’s 50th anniversary. With track tyres, crazy aero, lightened components, and 650 horsepower, this thing laps a conventional circuit three seconds faster than the stock ZL1, says Chevrolet.

To get the times down, engineers started with bespoke Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tyres (basically road-legal semi-slicks) and optimised everything to suit. The fastest Camaro ever features a new carbon fibre rear wing that doesn’t merely reduce lift, it adds downforce, in tandem with air deflectors and dive planes up front to stick through the turns.

Chevrolet says the dampers are lightweight race-derived units all round, with adjustable height, camber plates, and roll bar included. Engineers paid attention to track-side fettling and made the whole lot designed for quick changes between heats.

Compared to the standard ZL1, the 1LE package goes with inch-smaller wheels, but also an inch wider, forged in aluminium and wrapped with those Goodyears that generate 1.1g of lateral grip. Even though the rubber footprint grows by 10 per cent over the regular ZL1, the 1LE’s wheel and tyre package weighs in over 13kg lighter in total. To get the 27kg lower overall kerb weight, the 1LE additionally comes with thinner rear glass and fixed-back seats.

The 6.2-litre supercharged V8 makes 650bhp and over 880Nm of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission with automatic downshift rev blips. For some reason they also want you to know there is a Bose sound system included.

“The track-focused 1LE package offers progressive levels of performance across the Camaro line-up, from the V6 1LE to the SS 1LE,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “But with the new ZL1 1LE, the progression takes a quantum leap — this is the ultimate track-day Camaro.”

Pricing and GCC arrival dates (before the end of the year) for the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE will be announced closer to production.