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Month – January 2012

Camaro ZL1 Reviews Are Coming Out, and They’re Great!

Camaro ZL1 Reviews

Major automotive publications begin rolling out their Camaro ZL1 Reviews, and they’re very very good!

So, by today most of the major automotive publications have had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Camaro ZL1, and over the last week we’ve seen some great reviews from them hitting the web. There’s a lot of them, and I haven’t had a chance yet to get behind the wheel of one, so I’ll just give you some of my favorite snippets from them and include the links to the original reviews(as well as a few parenthetical remarks from yours truly). Before we get in to them, let me just say, these are incredibly exciting. The ZL1 looks to be such an amazing and exciting vehicle.

From AutomobileMag.com where they decided to compare the ZL1 to the Grand Sport Corvette for the basis of their review:

“During development, one ZL1 endured 600 clutch-dumping launches as part of the most demanding driveline durability testing program in the history of General Motors.” (Sounds like a monster of a driveline in this new Camaro!)

“Third-generation Magnetic Ride dampers charge and discharge faster than earlier examples, allowing for more precise control of damping rates. Their flexibility and bandwidth also allow the ZL1 to use the same springs as the Camaro SS. Sport and tour buttons just ahead of the shifter adjust the dampers accordingly, and a third mode — track — is available when Performance Traction Management is active. Unlike most cars, in which sport mode alters throttle calibration for quicker acceleration with less pedal travel, the ZL1 makes the throttle-pedal mapping less aggressive to allow for finer modulation.

“Rather than focus on reducing drag to, say, hit 200 mph, the ZL1 team aimed to maximize high-speed stability with downforce. The hood extractor, front splitter, and rear spoiler create enough downforce to eliminate lift as the ZL1 nears its top speed of 184 mph.”

On a 2.75-mile road course at Inde Motorsports Ranch, twenty-one turns make the case for the ZL1. We expected the intoxicating effect of more power and assumed there would be significantly improved body control, but we were skeptical that the ZL1 would revolutionize the way the Camaro handles. In fact, it does.

“The fast, balanced steering of the ZL1 is much more confidence-inspiring than the Camaro SS’s hydraulic power steering. The effort, the damping, and the return are tuned for a perfectly natural weight, but the electric rack does filter out most of the front-end feel. That’s even more true when compared with the Corvette, which boasts an equally quick rack with a robust hydraulic assist. While both cars deliver satisfying shifts, the Camaro’s shorter, snappier throws are more inviting than the Corvette’s longer shifts.”

From Autoweek.com:

“Packaging in the Camaro allows better intake and exhaust flow, with a 30 percent reduction in flow restriction compared with the CTS-V.”

“Its shifter was developed by Chevrolet, using slightly longer throws than the Hurst package in the Camaro SS, and was optimized for a road course rather than drag racing.”

“The ultimate Camaro also offers something you can’t get in a Mustang GT500 or Boss 302: an automatic transmission… There’s another technology in the ZL1 that you can’t get in a Mustang, and it’s significant. GM’s Magnetic Ride Suspension (MRS), now applied in supercars such as the Audi R8 and the Ferrari FF, has been upgraded for the ZL1. The Gen III MRS gets a faster processor and four smaller magnets in each shock, rather than two larger ones. The objective is quicker reaction time.”

The ZL1 comes standard with track stuff you don’t get on a GT500, including a transmission cooler, differential cooler and brake-cooling ducts, and its aerodynamics have been optimized for high speed.

“Chevy says development included a 24-hour, high-speed flog at GM’s proving ground in Milford, Mich., with a 150-mph-plus top speed each lap and an average of 88 mph, stopping only to change tires and brakes.

Here’s Car and Driver’s review. It’s my favorite one of the bunch:

“It features GM’s second-most-powerful engine: With 580 horsepower, it’s behind only  the truly absurd, 638-hp Corvette ZR1. No surprise that during its development it was known simply as the “HP.” And it carries the most sophisticated adjustable dampers and stability-control system any amount of money can buy. For this, GM asks a base price of $56,295, which includes a $1300 gas-guzzler tax; all the go-fast parts are standard issue.”

The ZL1 is not your old-school, all-ate-up-with-motor muscle car, although its name derives from such a vehicle. It is built with the GM Performance Division mantra of  “go, stop, and turn” in mind. Track ability was always part of the HP program from back when everyone assumed the car would be called the Z28.”

“Get everything right, and the ZL1 hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and passes 1320 feet in 12.3 seconds at 119 mph—or better, as the cold and dusty track at Inde was less than ideal for acceleration runs. Few cars costing less than $60,000 can claim such feats. And the ZL1 sounds angry, with a throaty bass-boat rumble backed by a faint supercharger whine. The V-8 fires up with a roar, and the exhaust crackles when you back out of  full throttle.”

“Starker is the transformation of the ZL1’s handling characteristics from those of a stock SS. In the latter, the driver is always fighting the car—it understeers on turn-in and oversteers on corner exit, all served up with a healthy dollop of body roll. The ZL1 does exactly what you want all the time, with no surprises. Front grip is tenacious enough that you actually get a sense of the tires biting in as you turn the wheel. Power comes in so creamily and with such linearity that it’s easy to forget you’re driving a 580-hp car. The brake pedal feels solid but still offers enough travel for smooth application, and it shows no fade. The ZL1 goes around the track with a composure that would shock many BMW M3 fans.” (Comparisons to an M3 are huge praise from C/D who are famous for their love of the BMW M-Series vehicles)

“We saw 0.98 g on a dusty skidpad (did we mention Tucson is in the desert?). This is supercar territory.

Each body alteration either improves cooling or reduces lift. Or, in the case of the bulging center section of the hood, which is made of carbon fiber (and covered in clear-coat paint for an additional $600), both.”

“Should you wish to save some fuel, or suffer a fit of social responsibility, you can comfortably drive the ZL1 gently, but that seems contradictory to the car’s whole mission. Isn’t 580 horsepower supposed to be—and feel—ludicrous?

“What’s crazy is that the ZL1 is not crazy; it’s comfortable and easy to drive. With the ZL1, General Motors has made the Camaro into a true GT car—daily driver, long-range missile, and track-day special all in one. “

For the purposes of their review, MotorTrend ran the Camaro up against the fastest production Mustang available right now, the Boss 302:

“For 2012, Chevy aims to redefine the ponycar completely in one electronically optimized fell swoop. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 takes the once-simple formula for all-American performance and reworks it into a recipe for a modern cyborg warhorse. Literally leaning on suspension technology originally developed for Cadillacs and Corvettes, the Camaro achieves better-than-Boss levels of handling with the highway ride quality of a CTS-V.”

“With professional racer Randy Pobst behind the wheel, the ZL1 laps the 2.2-mile Inde Motorsports Ranch circuit 2.45 seconds faster than the Boss. That’s huge.

The Camaro felt far more composed on the track than the Mustang. “I can put this thing right where I want it!” barked Randy as he slid the car around with one hand. Although heavier than the Mustang, the ZL1 still changes direction easily and is capable of pulling higher g-forces mid-corner. The constantly variable damping rates make the Camaro feel as though its tires sink into the track. Bumps that shook the Boss simply disappeared and never upset the ZL1. More important, more of the track became usable since curbing wouldn’t throw the Camaro into a tailspin.”

“The Camaro clearly came out on top of this fight. Although the Boss 302 is probably the best Mustang ever built, it just feels and performs like it’s a generation behind. Randy summed it up: “The Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca was my favorite American musclecar — until today.” It isn’t the lack of power; it isn’t the lack of amenities. It’s simply a lack of technology.

Popular Mechanics did what they do best in their review (which is to say offer solid information in an annoying slideshow format whose embedding stopped functioning for me on slide 4 of 7 and required reloading and starting over at slide 1. We should be past this slideshow format in web journalism, guys!):

“The ZL1′s headline-grabbing figure is 580 hp, which, admittedly, is an addictive amount of giddyup to have under your right foot. But focusing solely on the power overlooks the fact the ZL1 is probably the first Camaro in history that turns better than it sprints.”

“Depending on the driver’s skill, PTM can make the ludicrously quick ZL1 feel somewhat safe when pushing the car to its limits.” (Never underestimate how important driver confidence is to performance and lap times.)

“Approaching a gentle but very fast right-hand kink at Arizona’s Inde Motorsports Ranch, we cut the corner just a touch too tightly, dropping the right-side wheels into a hole next to the track surface. Running at 100 mph, that’s the sort of mistake that can turn ugly in an instant. The ZL1, however, bounced out of the hole, immediately regained composure, and carried on as if we’d driven perfectly. That’s the kind of forgiving nature that’s rare in a car as fast as the ZL1. “

We’d be just as happy to pilot the ZL1 on a mountain road or road course as we would on a drag strip.

“Many onlookers will focus on this horsepower war, but that misses the point of the ZL1. While we’ve always appreciated the style and, of course, the power of previous Camaros, the ZL1 is the first one that we actually want to drive. And for all it delivers, the asking price is a bargain.”

Jalopnik’s review begin feeling almost bitter and grumpy, but it quickly got very positive in favor of the Camaro ZL1:

“The ZL1 itself gives me my first scare a couple of laps in as I come around the 180-degree turn that empties onto the straight. I’ve decided the tires—and my abilities—are as warmed up as they’re going to get. Gunning it on the straight to catch up to the Bondurant race instructor playing leader in a Camaro SS, the ZL1′s tremendous torque pitches the back end of the car back and forth over the width of the drag racing road surface. The sensors that send information to the PTM system are doing a full reading roughly about every inch, so within a quarter-of-a-second the relatively timid Mode 2 has set the ZL1′s fishtail back on a straight line and I’m at 100 MPH with no tail flash in sight.
I’d modulated the throttle when the back end started getting squirmy because that’s what one does when getting a lot of unwanted wheel slip. But according to the Camaro’s engineers, I didn’t have to. In fact, had I kept the throttle smashed to the floor, the car would have still done what was necessary to keep the ZL1 from spinning out into a wall.

You’d have to really hate cars not to enjoy throwing a ZL1 around a track.

That is the ZL1 in a nutshell: an incredible, frighting behemoth of a car, entirely too powerful for its own good, but reined in by clever engineer-wranglers who have worked very hard to allow even terrible drivers to keep themselves safe.

“You can’t ever grade over the rough disappointments of youth, but you can leave them behind. And with cars as mad and indignant as the Camaro ZL1, you can sure as hell make an adulthood worth remembering.

The reviewer for MotorAuthority absolutely loved the Camaro ZL1 and gave it my favorite comparison of all the reviews–a 2012 Porsche 911:

“I realized, while mentally re-visualizing the last set of laps, that from turn-in to apex, under fast entry speeds with a fair amount of trail brake, the ZL1 felt, acted, and moved almost exactly like the 2012 911 did under similar circumstances.”

“Wait for the lights, step off the clutch, and WHAM! it’s off, scrabbling and chirping down the 60-foot, making the most of the tsunami of torque-producing atmosphere being crammed down the gullet of the V-8 engine by the supercharger.”

“It’s not that the ZL1 isn’t really, really good on a road course. Its 7:41 Nurburgring time says it is, as does my own first-hand experience. It’s even outfitted from the factory with transmission and differential coolers–bits the ZL1′s main rival, the Ford Shelby GT500, makes optional add-ons.”

The ZL1 is a true driver’s car, and regardless of its ultimate pace in comparison with sports cars or supercars in its price, power, or performance categories, it delivers an experience that, at times, is on par with the very best of them.”

So, there you have it. Six of the world’s biggest automotive publications have great great things to say about the Camaro ZL1. Anyone else as excited as I am to get behind the wheel of one and see for themselves?

Popular WindRestrictor Coming for Camaro Convertibles

Extremely Popular Corvette WindRestrictor Product Coming Soon for Camaro Convertibles

The etched acetate and LED lit Convertible WindRestrictor Product that has taken the Corvette world by storm will be available for Camaro Convertible owners as well. (1/21/2012)

The Corvette community has fallen in love with the WindRestrictor convertible wind screen by King Penn Industries, and with good reason. While browsing through their YouTube channel I stumbled across a video yesterday that shows, without question, that they’re about to release a new version of their popular Camaro WindRestrictor for the Camaro Convertible as well.

The product sets itself apart from other wind screens–a common product for the Corvette line and one I’m sure to see begin picking up popularity in the Camaro line as well–by combining the incredible functionality and wind buffering of others, but with a gorgeous and stylistic visual design. The piece is made from high quality materials that are certain to retain their look and finish for quiet some time, and which are finished with your choice of GM official licensed engravings/etchings, and LED light options. The lights provide a fantastic look, and are able to be turned on and off. If you want even more show from them, also, there’s also an option for a special LED package that includes remote control and availability of switching between all color options, with dimmer and fader functions.

Here’s the video for you to check it out for yourself:

And their press release concerning the new product:

“Introducing the brand new, patent pending Windrestrictor for the Camaro Convertible from King Penn Industries Inc. No we do not own rights to this song but it is All American just like the Chevy Camaro so we hope you enjoy! This product is now available through our online shop at www.KingPennIndustries.com or simply give us a call at 972-487-5987. The all new Camaro Windrestrictor is an official licensed product of GM. Our product will fit the SS Super Sport, and all other models of the Camaro Convertible. Our patent pending design is the only product in the world that you can fully customize. You can choose from multiple color options. We offer Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Purple and Pink LED illumination systems. Or, if you prefer, we offer an “Extreme Lighting Kit” with remote control. This option allows you to choose whichever color you want at any given time. It also has a fading option that is HOT for car shows. Our product will be featured at the world of wheels show in the Grabiac Chevrolet Booth as make sure and stop by and check it out! Our windscreen for the Chevy Camaro is also customizable with different graphics options. You can choose from multiple GM licensed graphics or you can use your own and make it custom! Don’t do another burn out without having one of these hot, head turning products on your Camaro. It’s the best personalized accessory for the Camaro that is available today. Also, it’s brand new so be the first in your city to have one! There is no comparrison between our version and others on the market. We also have this awesome product available for the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Crossfire, Mercedes SLK, Honda S2000 and the Porsche Boxster. If you were to do a side by side review ours would wind hands down every time! The Windrestrictor for the Camaro is already highly reviewed by owners! This is the only personalized Camaro Windscreen in the world! Windrestrictor is a registered trademark of King Penn Industries Inc. All GM Trademarks are used under licencse to King Penn Industries Inc. If anyone knows about GM coming out with a convertible model of the Camaro ZL1 please let us know! Don’t wait another day to add this product to your wish list of Camaro Accessories!”

Reigning Champ Camaro Wins the Sales Battle Once Again

2010′s Pony Car Sales Champion Camaro Moved the Most Units in 2011

88,249 Camaros sold in 2011 give it a decisive sales victory over direct muscle car competitors Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger

In sports, when a team or competitor dominates for the majority of the match and coasts to a decisive over-all victory by the very end, the term “blow-out” is typically used. In the case of the battle for most popular American muscle car in 2011, you might say that a “blow-out” victory was exactly the type that the Chevrolet Camaro enjoyed.

Following the vehicle’s break-out success in 2010, 2011 saw the Camaro continue its dominance. For 11 of the 12 months the Camaro moved the most vehicles–and did so, in many of those months, with a considerable cushion of multiple thousand units. The only month that the Mustang took the sales crown was the month where Ford was moving all of its prior model year vehicles at a severely discounted price to make way for the new model year, and even in that month the Mustang only managed to move 400 more units than the Camaro.

In December alone 6754 Camaros were sold, which was good for a 20% increase over December of 2010, and a 1697 unit lead over the second place Mustang for that month. On the entire year, the Camaro’s 88,249 units sold took a commanding victory over the Mustang at 70,438 and the Challenger at 39,534.

So, there you have it, the Camaro is the victor in its sector for a second straight year, and with the ZL1 hitting showroom floors–and the sales for both the coupe and convertible models of the Camaro continuing to climb–it looks like a safe bet to take home the crown on a threepeat.

Non-Camaro News: Chevrolet Shows off two new Sporty Concepts at Detroit Auto Show

Chevrolet Rules Detroit Auto Show with new Concepts

Chevrolet’s new 130R concept, based on the Alpha Platform designed for the 2015 Camaro, was the runaway hit at last week’s Detroit Auto Show.

It appears that Chevrolet has learned from the success of its Camaro. The current hottest market in the automotive world (maybe with exception to the pony car market, of course) is the $20,000 and less, 40mpg small-car market for the “millenial generation”. Chevy recently released the Sonic in to this market and the reviews and original sales have been incredibly promising. Of course, with the Sonic going up against a bevy of other vehicles like the Honda Fit, Hyundai Veloster, and vehicles from Ford, Mazda, Scion, etc. just being stylish, affordable, and having great gas mileage isn’t enough. In this crowding market, you need something to help you stand apart, and the 130R has plenty of things.

Chevrolet 130R Concept Car

There's no denying the stylistic influence of the Camaro in this gorgeous sporty sub-compact entry.

This new concept, whose styling is very obviously based on the very popular Camaro, is an incredible vehicle and one I’d love to see Chevrolet begin producing. First, there’s the Alpha Platform. This platform, which was designed by Chevrolet for use on the Cadillac ATS, the 2015 Camaro, and the next-generation Cadillac CTS allows for an affordable RWD base for the 130R. By producing a RWD vehicle in this market, Chevrolet’s already setting themselves apart from the rest of the market. The RWD platform, which is mostly unheard of in this market share with sole exception to the soon to be released Scion FR-S, will help make this car a sporty, fun driving entry.

Chevrolet Detroit Auto Show

At sub-$20,000, with RWD and 40mpg EPA rating, this vehicle would be a definite hit.

In addition to the fascinating RWD platform, and the gorgeous styling, this car also promises to feature some other goodies that will be sure to drive its sales. The engine looks to be the 140hp 1.4L Ecotec, which is right in line with the other vehicles in this market sector and will certainly provide the benchmark 40mpg rating that every manufacturer is fighting for. However, the platform and vehicle size also mean that the turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec engine developed for the Cadillac ATS would also fit inside this car. That engine, and its 270HP output, could potentially be released as a special, or high-end edition of this vehicle and provide some great performance numbers in such a small and sporty RWD vehicle. In fact, the release of such a vehicle–if it were able to be sold below the $30k–would certainly generate a great deal of buzz.

Chevrolet Alpha Platform

The tail-lights and rear-end on this RWD Chevrolet 130R concept vehicle are very Camaro-esque.

So, what do you think? Is this mini-Camaro a good move for Chevrolet? All signs point to them expecting positive results, as Chevrolet did lots of market research on its design and the concept present at the Detroit Auto Show was actually very near finished. If Chevrolet found reason to, one could believably see them entering in to production on this vehicle within a year’s time–a move that I, personally, would love to see. I’d love to have one of these in my garage as a fuel-efficient daily driver to supplement my Camaro SS. Both would be gorgeous, fun, and stand-out vehicles in their market!

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