Chevy Takes Aim at Mustang with New ZL1

Fast, faster, fastest.

by on Sep.12, 2011

Chevy takes aim at the Mustang Shelby GT with the new 580-hp Camaro ZL1.

It’s been a quarter century since Chevrolet last held the lead in the pony car race and it’s ready to up the horsepower count to keep its lead over its perennial rival, the Ford Mustang.

The trick to remaining king-of-the-hill, Chevy planners recognize, is to keep a steady stream of updates to the recently revised Camaro.  So, we’ve already seen the addition of a ragtop and now comes the ZL1.  While Chevy gave us a peek at the high, higher, highest-performance version of the Camaro line-up a few months back, the maker is now giving us some official numbers.  And they aren’t going to make the folks at Ford happy.

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When it hits showrooms sometime in the mid-2012 model-year the Camaro ZL1’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 will make a jaw-dropping 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque.  That’s aimed “right between the eyes” of the 550-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT, noted Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser.

That will make the ZL1 the most powerful car in Camaro history.  What we’ll have to wait to find out, however, if it will also be the fastest.  Though that appears quite likely, Chevy isn’t planning to release those numbers until closer to the Camaro ZL1’s launch during the first quarter.

Those familiar with the big LSA 6.2-liter engine might be surprised that it will turn out 24 more hp under the hood of the Camaro ZL1 than it currently makes in the Cadillac CTS-V.  That’s due to an easier-breathing induction system, as well as improvements to the powertrain’s supercharger and intercooler.

The original ZL1 was all about muscle, and while the new Camaro variant will have plenty to offer, Chevy is billing it as a much more compleat car than the classic cruiser of years past.  The 2012 thoroughbred will offer such niceties as a head-up display, or HUD, system that can display various track-ready data, much like Chevy’s top-line Corvette.

Those who complained that its suspension wasn’t yet up to promised levels of handling could be appeased with the switch to Delphi’s distinctive magnetic ride control – which uses a magnetically sensitive fluid in its dampers to allow the suspension to adapt to road and driving conditions in milliseconds.

The Camaro ZL1’s electronic brake and suspension management system, meanwhile, will offer a serious driver the ability to choose any of five settings, depending on skill levels.  That includes one mode that effectively disables everything from ABS brakes to electronic stability control.  While the rear brakes are lifted whole from the current Camaro SS, the ZL1 gets six-piston Brembo calipers up front with 14.6-inch rotors.

There’ll also be standard oil, transmission and differential coolers.

The engine, meanwhile, will be mated to either a tap-to-shift 6-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual.  That

The new model will be produced in higher numbers than the original ZL1, though it won’t likely match demand for the current Camaro coupe.  Pricing also remains to be seen but will likely carry a stiff premium – probably somewhere in the low $50,000 range.

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One Response to “Chevy Takes Aim at Mustang with New ZL1”

  1. [...] Mustang and Camaro Wars Filed under: Auto Technology, Camaro, Cars, Chevy, Engine Mods, Muscle Cars, Suspension Mods by timsweet — Leave a comment September 19, 2011 Chevy Takes Aim at Mustang with New ZL1 [...]

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