The 21km long Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany’s Eifel mountains is a benchmark and a platform for any manufacturer worth its semi-slicks to shine on. The list of the fastest cars around the ‘Ring — Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris and McLarens — is a who’s who of the world of performance automobiles. And then something strange, a muscle car, in the land of 170-plus corners…
Chevrolet’s 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE has just lapped the Green Hell in 7:16.04, making it not only the fastest Camaro around the track ever, but also the fastest Chevy. The closest American thing to it is a Dodge Viper ACR, although Chevy will have you note that one isn’t a Chevy.
You might remember Detroit already publicising last year’s excursion to the Nürburgring where in October a ZL1 did a 7:29.60 lap. That was done in a car equipped with an automatic transmission, and for 2018 Chevrolet stepped things up to knock a sensational 13 seconds off the fiercest Camaro’s time.
In the ultimate superiority confirmation, Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser and his team went to Germany with a ZL1 fitted with a manual transmission and smashed the lap time, so you now have yet another reason to feel guilty about speccing the automatic.
OK, in truth it wasn’t that simple, but we’ll still take it as proof of the manual’s irrefutable righteousness. Two pedals and 10 speeds is many, sure, but somehow six speeds is just more.
The Camaro that did the job is a ZL1 with Chevy’s 1LE package specially designed for track use, which means the 7:16.04 lap was done with options you can specify at the dealer yourself.
The package includes adjustable suspension front and rear, a carbon fibre rear wing, exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tyres, and naturally, a 650 horsepower supercharged V8 engine.
The driver who was behind the wheel for the hot lap, Camaro ride and handling engineer Bill Wise, said: :The harder you push the Camaro ZL1 1LE, the more it rewards you on the track.”
For a car starting Stateside from Dh259,000, that’s a pretty big score - on the ‘Ring list the Camaro now finds itself surrounded by big-dollar exotics, like Mercedes-AMGs and Porsche 911 GT3s. (For reference, the former with a time of 7:11 and the latter with a 7:18 lap.)
Besides gobs of horsepower the 6.2-litre engine produces 880Nm of torque, which must have been useful in decimating the previous generation ZL1’s ‘Ring time by a total of some 25 seconds.