2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Mar 16, 2016
  • Lighter, more powerful, high-performance Camaro
  • Supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine
  • 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Standard Recaro performance seats
  • Optional Performance Data Recorder
  • Claimed track readiness right from the factory
  • On sale near the end of 2016
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 front quarter right photo


2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 side profile photo

High-performance Camaros are nothing new. What you see here, embodied within the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, might just represent the pinnacle of the breed, one that weighs 200 lbs. less than the car it replaces while adding 60 more horsepower and 84 more lb.-ft. of torque.

Introduced in advance of its unveiling at the 2016 New York Auto Show, the new Camaro ZL1 makes nearly as much motive force as a Corvette Z06, and while it weighs about 400 lbs. more than the mighty ‘Vette, the Camaro ZL1 does have a couple of seats in which you can bring people along for the ride.

Mark Reuss, executive vice president of General Motors Global Product Development, said this regarding his newest performance car: “The Camaro ZL1 is designed to excel at everything.”

Yes, obviously.

Exterior Features

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 grille and splitter photo

Looking like it means business, the 2017 Camaro ZL1 receives reworked design elements honed to maximize aerodynamic downforce and mechanical cooling requirements.

To that end, the Camaro ZL1 wears a large front splitter beneath a reworked grille containing what Chevrolet calls a “flow-tie” emblem. Wider front fenders flank a new hood with a carbon fiber insert and a heat extractor, and the ZL1 boasts reworked rocker panels and a rear wing spoiler. The car sits on unique 20-in. forged aluminum wheels.

Interior Features

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 interior photo

As far as the Camaro ZL1’s interior is concerned, Chevrolet confirms that the car will have standard Recaro performance seats, which were an option on the previous ZL1. Generally speaking, the ZL1 has supplied a generous level of standard equipment, with options related primarily to customizing this Camaro’s appearance.

Optional Features

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Performance Traction setting photo

Upon the Camaro ZL1’s introduction, Chevrolet disclosed only that a Performance Data Recorder would be optional. Perhaps more notable is what doesn’t cost extra: Chevy claims the Camaro ZL1 is track-ready right from the factory, so you don’t need to order an upgrade package.

Under the Hood

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 manual shift knob photo

In order to create a track-ready Camaro ZL1, Chevrolet stuffs a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine into the car. This is a new motor, one expected to make an estimated 640 horsepower and 640 lb.-ft. of torque, substantially more than the 580 horsepower and 556 lb.-ft. of torque supplied by the previous ZL1’s supercharged 6.2-liter.

A 6-speed manual gearbox with Active Rev Match technology is standard. If you’re disinterested in using a clutch pedal, opt for the new 10-speed automatic transmission. That’s not a typo; the Camaro ZL1 introduces a new 10-speed automatic that GM plans to install in eight additional models by the end of 2018. For the ZL1, the transmission is calibrated for maximum performance, and the driver can take control by using shifter paddles.

To further maximize performance, Chevrolet installs an electronic limited-slip differential, Driver Mode Selector system, Performance Traction Management system, and a performance launch control system. The engine breathes through a dual-mode exhaust system.

The Camaro ZL1 is about much more than just a powertrain. It sits on a Magnetic Ride Control adaptive damping suspension, connected to the pavement via 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires that are specially developed for this car. Two-piece front brake rotors measuring 15.35 inches in diameter provide stopping power, clamped by 6-piston Brembo front brakes.


2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 rear quarter left photo

Expect the new Camaro ZL1 to have the latest version of Chevrolet MyLink, an infotainment system with an 8-in. display screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-projection technology, and OnStar services including a 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection.

Confirmed as an option, a Performance Data Recorder can capture video, audio, and data from a track event, place it on an SD card, which in turn allows the Camaro ZL1’s owner to download the information and then to upload it to social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, or Periscope.

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