With the unveiling of the new 2012 Camaro ZL1 this morning at the Chicago Auto Show, rumors have been confirmed, dashed and in some ways, fallen short of what Chevy has (over)delivered with their ultimate pony car.
For starters, the well-known Z28 nameplate many had banked on was a no-show. Instead, the ZL1 designation reigns at the top of the Camaro food chain, harking back to the legendary COPO Camaros featuring the all-aluminum 427 cubic inch big block (engine code ZL1). It was considered the most brutally powerful Camaro of its day — and for years to come. According to GM, this is the reasoning behind labeling their new 550 horsepower / 550 lb-ft torque supercharged Camaro with the historic moniker.
All debates to naming aside, many of the “secrets” of the new top-line Camaro offered no surprises to those keeping tabs:
- A supercharged 6.2L LSA V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V… check.
- Adjustable magnetic ride control and larger Brembo brakes… check.
- Front fascia from Transformers 3, new rear diffuser and new extractor hood… check.
Nothing new here, but GM was able to keep other things relatively quiet… especially when it came to the interior.
Gone is the awkward steering wheel for 2012. In its place is a flat-bottomed piece that takes cues from the CTS-V and is wrapped in microfiber suede. A new shifter design can be seen. The microfiber theme continues on the seats and to the dash, adding a welcome touch of class and comfort. There’s also a back-up camera with its screen integrated into the rearview mirror and a boost gauge in the axillary four-pack cluster.
Elsewhere in the car, a dual-mode exhaust helps modulate the LSA’s sound (similar to what you’d find on a Z06 Corvette) and the exterior enhancements were designed to offer valuable aerodynamic results, not just looks. Additional suspension tweaks were made to improve cornering, electronic steering reduces engine drag and is another departure from the Camaro SS, and ZL1-specific wheels with a larger footprint put more rubber to the ground.
Between the things we knew of the Camaro ZL1 before today, and the things we know now after its official unveil, it’s proof positive, even at this introductory level, that GM has done their due diligence in creating what they refer to as “the most technically advanced Camaro ever”.
Production isn’t slated for another year, but the upgrade possibilities — with the familiar LSA under the hood — will result in a new level of ZL1 performance we can’t wait to unleash.