The most powerful Camaro ever built

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro broke cover in 2015 as a more compact pony that was underpinned by a new, lighter platform and dressed in a familiar, yet refreshed suit. The redesign also brought three new engines, including a fuel-efficient four-banger and the Corvette’s LT1 V-8. Less than a year has passed since the new muscle car made its official debut and Chevrolet has already unveiled the next-generation ZL1.

Seeing how the new Camaro was a significant improvement over its predecessor, the new ZL1 was expected to follow suit and deliver significantly enhanced performance in a more aggressive body and a lighter architecture. Needless to say, enthusiasts won’t be disappointed, as the supercharged coupe delivers more power than any other factory-built Camaro to date and features the most comprehensive aerodynamic package that makes it suitable for busy weekends at the race track. The fact that its about 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor adds to the thrill and sets a new benchmark in the supercharged muscle car market.

Introduced at the 2016 New York Auto Show, the new Camaro ZL1 will hit dealerships later in 2016 as a 2017 model year vehicle.

Update 08/08/2016: Chevrolet dropped the official prices and full specification figures for the 2017 Camaro ZL1 which will be put on sale later this year.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

  • 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    640
  • Torque @ RPM:
    640
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Quarter Mile time:
    11.4 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    62135
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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As is the case with all high-performance models, the sixth-gen Camaro’s front fascia has become a lot more aggressive with the ZL1 package. Changes are massive up front, where the ZL1 employs a much larger intake under the skinny grille, flanked by larger, redesigned cooling ducts and vertical LED daytime running lights. There’s also a new grille pattern for both upper and lower openings, wider front fenders, a black "bowtie" badge, and a vented hood with with carbon-fiber insert and "ZL1" logos.

The exterior of the coupe was shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel and on-track testing for better aerodynamics and improved cooling

From the side, the Camaro ZL1 showcases new, black-painted side skirts extending toward the ground and a set of new, lightweight wheels in gloss-black. A lowered suspension setup takes the ZL1 closer to the ground than any other Camaro. Around back, there’s a revised diffuser and a new, larger spoiler atop the trunk lid for added downforce at high speed. The quad-exhaust arrangement of the Camaro SS remained in place, but outlets have grown bigger on the ZL1.

The exterior of the coupe was shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel and on-track testing for better aerodynamics and improved cooling. The new front, lower grille allows for greater airflow, while the wider front fenders and wing-style rear spoiler deliver greater stability.

Side-by-side comparison

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
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Interior

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
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Other goodies include suede inserts on the passenger-side dashboard and door panels, contrast stitching, aluminum inserts, and a bespoke display for the infotainment screen

The interior of the ZL1 is almost identical to the SS model, featuring a similar flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob wrapped in suede. The sporty Recaro front seats with "ZL1" logos are standard. Other goodies include suede inserts on the passenger-side dashboard and door panels, contrast stitching, aluminum inserts, and a bespoke display for the infotainment screen.

Other than that, the ZL1 displays the same details seen in the redesigned, 2016 Camaro. The infotainment screen is larger and sits higher in the center stack, most buttons are now placed just below the touchscreen, while the heating and cooling controls integrate into the rings surrounding the air ducts. Compared to the previous model, the new ZL1 feels more spacious and upscale.

I would’ve loved to see some carbon-fiber inserts and options to make the cabin feel more track-oriented, but maybe Chevy is planning to offer such features when the car goes on sale. For the moment, information is very limited in this area.

Side-by-side comparison

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
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Drivetrain

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
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The engine is rated at 650 horsepower and 660 pound-feet, identical to the bonkers Corvette Z06

The previous Camaro ZL1 featured a supercharged, 6.2-liter, LSA V-8 engine based on the LS9 from the C6-generation Corvette ZR1. As expected, Chevy dropped the old unit in favor of a more modern powerplant, picking the bonkers LT4 that debuted in the Corvette Z06. The supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 shares most components with the Corvette’s, but the intake and exhaust system have been revised for the Camaro. The engine is rated at 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet, a 10-horsepower and 10-pound-feet increase from the original estimate, which makes the ZL1 as powerful as the Corvette Z06. Awesome! Compared to the previous ZL1, it’s a significant increase of 70 horses and a whopping 94 pound-feet, which makes the new ZL1 the most powerful Camaro ever produced.

It’s a bit surprising that Chevy opted to make the ZL1 as powerful as the Corvette Z06, but that’s definitely great news. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how it fares against the more potent, but heavier, 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat.

Another new feature is the 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Specifically tuned for the ZL1, the 10-cog unit has a 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears and enables the engine to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration and when exiting corners. Chevy claims it will deliver quicker laps and "lightning-quick responses" on both up- and downshifts. Chevy even says its in-house testing has shown the 10-speed to be faster shifting than the Porsche PDK dual-clutch. The 1-2 upshift is said to be 36 percent quicker, while the 2-3 and 3-4 upshifts are 27 and 26 percent quicker, respectively.

The gearbox also offers greater efficiency thanks to its added gears. Its top gear is numerically lower than that of the Camaro SS’ eight-speed automatic, meaning the 6.2-liter V-8 will run at a lower rpm on the highway, and potentially return better fuel economy.

The ZL1 is the first Chevrolet to employ the new 10-speed automatic, a transmission that’s set to become available in eight vehicles by the end of 2018. The gearbox was co-developed with Ford, which has debuted its version in the 2017 F-150 Raptor. While the transmissions have similar designs, each automaker programs the ECU for optimum performance in each respective vehicle. Be sure to watch Chevy’s demonstration video of the 10-speed automatic in the video gallery tab.

For those who would rather row their own gears, the ZL1 offers a standard six-speed manual with rev matching

For those who would rather row their own gears, the ZL1 offers a standard six-speed manual with rev matching. I was hoping the ZL1 would borrow the seven-speed from the Corvette Z06, but it turns out Chevy went with a revised version of the previous six-speed. Not an issue though, especially considering that several sports cars are no longer available with manual.

The drivetrain features no fewer than 11 heat exchangers for optimal cooling.

As far as performance goes, Chevy says that that the ZL1 needs only 3.5 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. This makes it a whopping half-second quicker than its predecessor. And even though it’s slower than the stupid-fast Challenger Hellcat, which needs a little over three ticks to hit 60 mph, the ZL1 is quicker than any other road-legal Camaro yet. The quarter-mile time is also impressive, being covered in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph. Braking from 0 to 60 mph is achieved in just 107 feet, another significant improvement compared to the previous model.

Chassis, Suspension, and Brakes

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
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The incredibly powerful drivetrain is paired with a redesigned chassis that is tuned for maximum performance on the street and the race track. Features include an updated Magnetic Ride suspension, Performance Traction Management, electronic limited-slip differential, Custom Launch Control and Drive Mode Selector. The coupe rides on 20-inch, forged aluminum wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro ZL1. Stopping power comes from Brembo brakes with 15.35-inch, two-piece rotors and six-piston calipers at the front. Details for the rear axle aren’t yet available, but look for smaller, 14-inch rotors and four-piston calipers.

Leaked Ordering Guide

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
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This is just one page of the ordering guide that displays various drivetrain options. IF you’re interested in checking out the full guide, you can see it in PDF format here.

Prices

Pricing for the 2017 Camaro ZL1 starts from $62,135, a significant hike compared to the outgoing model, which retailed from $55,505. The Convertible costs $7,000 more than the coupe, retailing from $69,135 before options. The $62,135 sticker makes the ZL1 the most expensive sixth-generation Camaro, a feature that won’t change until Chevrolet launched the next-gen Z/28.

Competition

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat High Resolution Exterior
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The Dodge Challenger received its very own supercharged engine for the 2015 model year in the SRT Hellcat. And needless to say, the next Camaro ZL1 will be no match for it in terms of horsepower. That’s simply because the supercharged, 6.2-liter, Hemi V-8 in the Hellcat whines to the tune of 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful factory-built muscle car in history. This incredible power brings exciting performance figures such as 0-to-60 mph sprints in a little over three seconds and quarter-mile times of 11.2 seconds. When equipped with drag radials, the latter drops to an amazing 10.8 seconds. Naturally, the beefed-up Challenger comes with a bespoke exterior enhanced by revised front and rear fascias, a new engine hood, new wheels, and several aerodynamic upgrades. This 707-horsepower missile retails from $59,995, excluding $995 destination and including $2,100 gas-guzzler tax.

Read more about it in our full review here.

Shelby GT

2015 Shelby GT High Resolution Exterior
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With the Shelby GT500 discontinued alongside the fifth-generation Mustang, Ford left the supercharged muscle car wars without leaving a hint as to when it will return. Thankfully, 2015 brought the Shelby GT, which revives a moniker originally created to slot between the Mustang GT and the Shelby GT500. This time around, it’s the only supercharged, sixth-gen Mustang on the market and that might not change too soon. Unlike the Camaro ZL1 and the Challenger Hellcat, the Shelby GT employs a smaller, 5.0-liter V-8 engine strapped to a supercharger. In base tune, it delivers 627 horsepower, but Shelby also offers an optional performance upgrade that takes output beyond 700 horsepower — well into Hellcat territory. Visually, it’s a more menacing version of the Mustang GT, featuring a billet aluminum front grille, a bulged hood, a large splitter, a custom trunk lid spoiler, and a two-piece rear diffuser. The main downside of the Shelby GT is that it costs a whopping $72,295 before options

Find out more about this muscle car in our detailed review here.

Conclusion

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Much like the Z/28, the Camaro ZL1 is an important nameplate for Chevrolet and traditionally the most powerful model in the Camaro lineup. The next-gen car was expected to take things up a notch in every department and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. Although the ZL1 is no longer the naturally aspirated muscle car designed specifically for drag racing, its new purpose in the Camaro lineup is equally significant. Without it, the Camaro lineup would be incomplete. More over, GM would no longer have a competitor for the insane Challenger Hellcat and an upcoming Shelby GT500. Thanks to its race-inspired looks and 640-horsepower LT4 engine, the Camaro ZL1 will continue to turn heads and deliver fantastic performance.

  • Leave it
    • Likely not as powerful as the Hellcat
    • Not yet available
    • A new Shelby GT500 could arrive in a few years

Updated History

Update 08/01/2016: A leaked ordering guide has exposed new information about the ZL1. Check out part of the guide in the review below.

Updated 05/11/2016: Chevrolet dropped full details on the ZL1’s new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission, that, according to the company has faster shift times than the Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission. Check "Drivetrain" section for the full details.

Updated 03/16/2016: With just a few days before its official debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet dropped the first info on the new generation Camaro ZL1.

Updated 09/25/2015: The guys over Gumbal caught the upcoming Camaro ZL1 testing on the Nurburgring race track. Enjoy the video!

Updated 09/15/2015: The upcoming Camaro Zl1 was caught testing once again, this time wearing less camouflage than in the past. It is now easier to spot design elements like the sportier front bumper with a prominent lip spoiler, a larger rear spoiler and wider exhaust tips.

Updated 08/13/2015: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Camaro ZL1 testing out on the road. The model is expected to be unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, with production set to begin in the summer of 2016.

Spy Shots

September 15, 2015 #2 - Camaro ZL1 testing on the Nurburgring

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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September 15, 2015 - Camaro ZL1 drops camouflage

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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August 13, 2015 - Camaro Zl1 testing for the first time

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Spyshots
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Rendering

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Press Release

The 2017 Camaro ZL1 is poised to challenge the most advanced sports coupes in the world in any measure – with unprecedented levels of technology, refinement, track capability and straight-line acceleration.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
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“The Camaro ZL1 is designed to excel at everything,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development. “It’s a 2+2 coupe offering incredible performance – acceleration, handling and braking – with the highest levels of technology and perfect chassis damping, making it suitable for everyday driving. It will compare well to any sports coupe, at any price and in any setting.”

Acceleration for the ZL1 is delivered with a new supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine estimated at 640 hp (477 kW), and either a six-speed manual transmission with active rev matching or an all-new 10-speed automatic. Handling capability starts with the lightweight, stiffer structure of the all-new sixth-Gen Camaro, married with Magnetic Ride suspension and an electronic limited-slip differential. Standard technologies include Driver Mode Selector, dual-mode exhaust and advanced connectivity features.

The Camaro ZL1 goes on sale late this year.

Designed for Performance

Functionality defines the Camaro ZL1’s form, with the exterior shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel testing and on-track validation to improve aerodynamics and cooling for track use. Accordingly, its exterior elements all play a part in managing airflow over, under and through the ZL1.

“The design supports the Camaro ZL1’s exceptional performance and does so with compelling style,” said John Mack, Camaro exterior design manager. “From every angle, the elements coalesce to give the car a purposeful, super aggressive attitude.”

The lower grille opening, for example, offers greater airflow compared to the Camaro SS, and the upper grille incorporates a new version of the “flow-tie” open bowtie insignia. There’s also a new hood, with a carbon fiber insert and heat extractor that pulls hot air from the engine compartment. Additional changes include a larger front splitter, unique rockers, a wing-style rear spoiler and wider front fenders – all tuned to improve aerodynamics for greater high-speed stability.

Inside, there are standard Recaro front seats, along with a sueded flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob. Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder is available.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
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Fast with finesse

A cohesive suite of performance technologies tailors ZL1’s performance for street and track. Features include an updated Magnetic Ride suspension, Performance Traction Management, electronic limited-slip differential, Custom Launch Control and Driver Mode Selector. It also has a stronger power-to-weight ratio than its predecessor, weighing 200 pounds less, while offering approximately 60 more horsepower and 80 more pound-feet of torque.

The result is a one-of-a-kind driving experience.

“Driving the Camaro ZL1 is best described as ‘fast with finesse,’” said Reuss. “It is beautifully balanced, with perfect damping and isolation for optimal performance and driver confidence in virtually any situation – from the Pacific Coast Highway to Willow Springs to Pomona.”

Additional chassis features include:

Unique 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear tires
Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro to offer exceptional grip on the track
Brembo brakes with six-piston monobloc front calipers – featuring the ZL1 logo – and massive, 15.35-inch (390 mm) two-piece front rotors.

Supercharged performance and new 10-speed automatic

Underhood, the ZL1 features a supercharged LT4 6.2L V-8 Small Block engine, with intake and exhaust systems tailored for Camaro. It is rated at an estimated 640 horsepower (477 kW) and 640 lb-ft of torque (868 Nm).

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The LT4 is backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission or all-new, available paddle-shift 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed automatic has 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears. It enables the LT4 engine to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration, particularly when exiting corners, for quicker laps and lightning-quick responses on both up- and down-shifts.

This is the first Chevrolet application of the new quick-shift 10-speed, with unique calibrations and hardware developed exclusively for the ZL1. By the end of 2018, GM will introduce the new 10-speed automatic in eight vehicle models.

Finally – and unlike some competitors – there’s no need to purchase an optional package to make the ZL1 track ready. Track capability comes standard, with features including an impressive 11 heat exchangers for optimal powertrain cooling.

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