2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
By Laura Burstein
On Sale: Spring 2012
Expected Pricing: Starting at $54,995
The most powerful production Camaro in history made its North American debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show. And while GM might tell you Chevy runs deep, the compelling power-to-dollar ratio of this souped-up muscle car means your pockets won't have to.
Powering this rear-wheel-drive pony car is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque, which Chevy says is good for zero-to-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Top speed is 180 mph with the 6-speed manual transmission, and, curiously, 184 mph with the optional 6-speed automatic.
The ZL1 is rife with dragster-ready accoutrements, such as launch control (on manual gearboxes) and behemoth Brembo brakes. Multiple cooling systems such as a rear-differential cooler, an integrated engine- and transmission-oil cooler, and brake-cooling ducts help to diffuse all the heat drivers will no doubt be churning up.
The Camaro ZL1 is outfitted with GM's third-generation Magnetic Ride technology, which uses a special valveless damping and fluid system to adjust suspension firmness to match the road and driving conditions. This, Chevrolet says, keeps the everyday ride compliant while offering track-worthy grip and handling. Also standard is a bevy of electronic systems also found on the Corvette ZR1 that are sure to increase drivers' hero quotients, including traction control, stability control and a new electric power steering system.
Inside, leather upholstery and heated seats are standard, as well as rear-park assist with a rear-view camera display integrated in the center rear-view mirror. The standard nine-speaker audio system has both USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Options include 20-inch wheels, a stripe package, carbon-fiber hood insert, power sunroof, and a suede microfiber interior trim package.
The brass at Chevrolet would have you believe the 2012 ZL1 competes with the likes of luxury sports cars nearly three times the price. And while that might be true looking purely at performance specs, we say more commensurate competitors include the Ford Shelby GT 500 Coupe. For the price, one could also spring for an entry-level Porsche Cayman or Chevrolet Corvette, or a lower horsepower but overall more luxurious choice such as the Audi S5 or BMW 1 Series M Coupe.
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe will go on sale in the spring of 2012. Base pricing starts at $54,995 MSRP, including a $900 destination charge.
The 2013 Camaro ZL1 convertible will follow in late 2012 with the same specification as the coupe, Chevrolet announced at the LA Auto Show. The fifth-generation Camaro was designed to accommodate a convertible model and four reinforcements were engineered to quell cowl shake common in convertibles. The additional stiffening includes a brace connecting the front strut towers, a transmission support brace, an underbody tunnel brace, a front X-brace, a stiffer cradle, and rear underbody V-braces. The convertible is reinforced further around the windscreen.