2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Review

The ultimate Camaro by a long long way

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below now to watch a video of my 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 review now

Meet the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – it has the 6.2 Supercharged V8 from the Corvette Z06 we finally got to test recently. It also gets the clever Magna-ride suspension and features a 10-speed automatic. There’s 650bhp and 650lb ft on tap and this thing will hit 97kph from standstill in 3.5 seconds (so about 3.7 for 0-100kph), and reach 319kph.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Compared to the regular Camaro, it features wider fenders and tyres, carbon fiber bonnet scoop, a massive gaping grille with more aggressive spoiler and a jutting lower lip. And to put paid to any concerns about overheating engines, it has 11 intercoolers!

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

So is this a muscle car, a sportscar or a supercar? Well it’s the most muscly muscle-car this side of a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. In terms of punch, it’s close enough to the accelerative and top speed performance of supercars to be embarrassing to the four-times-more-expensive machines.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

And as for sportscar ability, with a Nurburgring time of 7:29.6 it’s quicker than the Audi R8 V10 Plus (7:32), Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (7:32), Porsche 911 Carrera S (7:34), Mercedes AMG GT S (7:35), BMW M4 GTS (7:37) and even the extraordinary Lexus LFA (7:38).

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

So it definitely ticks both the musclecar and sportscar boxes, and gets a toe in the door of the supercar club, though I’d have to say its sibling the Corvette Z06 is further in through that door than the Camaro – and just wait till the next one comes out!

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Although the Vette is fractionally quicker off the line, there is something brutal, unhinged and rather insane about the way the bigger and 100g heavier ZL1 hooks up and charges up the road that literally takes your breath away.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

There’s certainly more noise and drama in the hilarious Hellcat, but the Challenger will struggle to grip and go, whereas the Camaro catapults at the horizon. Unsurprisingly their 0-100 times are pretty much the same, with the Camaro edging it I’d suspect. Wouldn’t that be a great shoot out to do?

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Somehow we’ve ended up in a bit of a virtual group test in this discourse haven’t we?

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Well compared to the racier Vette, you can certainly feel the mass of the Camaro when chucking it around the corners of your favourite twisty road. On the other hand the grip is excellent, the steering is faithful, and the rear end is absolutely planted giving you remarkable reassurance and being very un-musclecar-like.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

It seems like an intimidating car to drive at first acquaintance because of the specs and looks, but get behind the wheel, stir its soul and it’s plays nice, real nice. You get the measure of it quickly and whilst ultimately the Z06 would corner harder, faster, flatter, the ZL1 won’t be far behind. And ultimately it’s an easier all-rounder.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Both cars ride hard, but the ZL1 is more daily driver-friendly and usable. It easily beats the old ZL1 for both poise and performance, a testament to the great chassis that is derived from the Cadillac ATS.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The Hellcat is, as I’ve said, more theatrical and sensational. But whilst it would be a fearsome competitor on a drag run, the Camaro handles better by a long shot. I’d find it hard to pick between them, because I love them both for different reasons. But the Camaro is definitely a more sportier drive that does surprisingly well annihilating curves, whilst the Dodge is pure old-skool musclecar madness.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Then we come to the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. There’s no doubt that car sounds better, and it would be a heck of a thing to bring these two together. There’s a certain celebrity cache attached to the whole iconic Shelby badge that creates an appeal the ZL1 can’t quite match.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

But otherwise it would be extremely close between these two old arch-rivals. They’re even priced about the same. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to run the Shelby on the same road as the Camaro, so I’d have to put the ZL1 slightly ahead for driveability based on my experience.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

However all of these cars are absolutely awesome – American metal has never been so profoundly good as it is today, you lucky lot!

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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