2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is One Way to Skin a Hellcat [w/ Video]
The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, with its lighter, more petite body, is a pretty quick car, particularly in V8-powered SS form. But with a more powerful Shelby GT350 Mustang and Challenger SRT Hellcat roaming the halls of Modern Muscle Car High School and fixing to stuff it in a locker and running it up the flagpole, the Camaro (which celebrates its 50th birthday – or 43rd, depending on who you ask – next year) needs to toughen up. And that’s exactly what it’s doing: Bow down to the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Like the fifth-gen-based ZL1, the new super Camaro is propelled by a supercharged 6.2L V8, but in this instance, it’s the direct-injected LT4 found in the latest Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V. It produces the same 640 horsepower and 640 lb.-ft of torque that it does in the Caddy (making it the most powerful stock Camaro ever by a sizable margin) but, unlike the CTS-V, which is equipped exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Camaro ZL1 will give you two gearbox choices: A tried-and-true Tremec 6-speed manual or GM’s brand-spanking-new HydraMatic 10-speed (Yes, 10!) automatic with paddle shifters. Company officials say this gears-out-the-wazoo transmission will show up in seven other GM vehicles between now and the end of 2018.
However, the new ZL1 isn’t just about straight-line aptitude. The latest version of GM’s electromagnetic-fluid-filled dampers, an electronic LSD, beefy Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires help this beast cling to the pavement, while a revised aero package adds a bit more stick at speed. And you’ll stick to the inside as well, with form-fitting Recaro front seats and a suede-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel. The Camaro ZL1 – which will go on sale before the end of this year – might not put up the monumental-with-an-emphasis-on-mental numbers the Challenger Hellcat does, but with considerably less lard to lug around, look for the new kid to win the homecoming king election without having to resort to stuffing the ballot box. (Also: Why are they called homecoming king and queen if they’re democratically elected? Wouldn’t that make them homecoming president or prime minister?)