Could the most track-capable ZL1 to date replace the Z/28?

Unveiled for the 2017 model year, the sixth-generation Camaro ZL1 is by far the most impressive Camaro with forced-induction built to date. Powered by the the same LT4 engine introduced with the Corvette Z06, the latest ZL1 packs 650 horsepower, looks incredibly menacing, and costs a little more than $60,000, an amazing sticker given the performance. But, as incredible as it may sound, Chevrolet just managed to the make ZL1 even better by giving it the 1LE upgrade.

Previously available on the SS model, the 1LE package was just made available for the V-6 version too for the sixth-generation Camaro. Now, Chevy devised a similar package for the ZL1 and claims that the supercharged 1LE is the most track-capable Camaro ever, meaning it should outgun the bonkers (and now discontinued) Z/28 too. These claims are backed by racing-based suspension and aero technologies, as well as exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and a range of weight-saving measure. How powerful and fast is it? How much it cost? How does it compare to the Shelby GT350 and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat? Read my review below to get all the answers.

Updated 05/17/2017: Chevrolet announced prices for the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE which will be put on sale later this summer. Check the "Prices" section for the full details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.

  • 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    650
  • Torque @ RPM:
    650
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.4 sec.
  • Quarter Mile time:
    11.3 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    200 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    69995
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.7/10

Exterior

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706862

As mentioned in the introduction, whereas the usual 1LE package added ZL1-sourced parts to the SS (and more recently the V-6 model), this upgrade turns the supercharged ZL1 into a more aggressive vehicle. Exterior add-ons are limited to air deflectors and dive planes up front and a new rear wing, but these elements alter the ZL1’s aerodynamics quite dramatically. Developed specifically for this car, the unique deflectors attached to the side intakes in the bumper and the dive planes in the splitter area produce grip-generating downforce that helps the car drive faster in turns. The carbon-fiber rear wing, which is significantly larger than anything else offered on the Camaro up until now has a similar role.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706859
2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706860
Exterior add-ons are limited to air deflectors and a new rear wing, but these elements alter the ZL1's aerodynamics quite dramatically.

Other than that, the ZL1 1LE is pretty much a standard ZL1 and comes with everything you get with the supercharged Camaro. Highlights include the massive intake under the skinny grille, new mesh grille, a black "bowtie" badge, vented engine hood with carbon-fiber insert and "ZL1" logos, black side skirts, aggressive diffuser with large quad exhaust pipes, and a lowered suspension. The 1LE also benefits from the ZL1’s 100-hour wind tunnel and on-track testing program for improved aerodynamics and cooling.

Camaro ZL1 vs ZL1 1LE

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 707029
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 707030
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior
- image 669659

COMPETING DESIGNS

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 707031
2016 - 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang
- image 707033
The Shelby GT350 isn't as powerful and lacks forced induction, but it was developed with track performance in mind.

While the pony car market has plenty the offer when it comes to supercharged cars with more than 600 horsepower, things become a little thin when track capability becomes mandatory. This is why I’m comparing the ZL1 1LE to the Shelby GT350, which isn’t as powerful and lacks forced induction, but it was developed with track performance in mind. And even though it might not be as powerful as the ZL1 1LE, the GT350 is more than capable of giving the Chevy a run for its money at the race track. One quick look at its exterior reveals that the GT350 looks just as menacing as the ZL1 1LE.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 707032
2016 - 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang High Resolution Exterior
- image 578028

The Mustang comes with an aggressive body kit that includes a race-inspired front bumper, a beefed-up engine hood, a big wing, black side skirts, and unique wheels. The rear fascia also sports a diffuser that’s arguably more aggressive than the Camaro’s. Upgrade to the R package and you get underbody belly panels, a revised front splitter, and a carbon-fiber rear wing for extra downforce. I’ll be honest here, it’s really difficult to choose between the two, but I’m tempted to go with the Mustang as it successfully blends the vintage-inspired cues of the sixth-generation Mustang with the menacing features every track-ready sports car should have.

Interior

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
- image 669662

Standard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 interior shown here.

The 1LE package adds dual-zone climate, heated steering wheel and seats, and a Bose audio system.

While the exterior did receive two important features, the interior is pretty much identical to the standard ZL1. Chevy didn’t have much to say here and didn’t even bother to release photos, but it’s not surprising given that the 1LE only adds a few options as standard. New features include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and a Bose premium audio system.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Interior
- image 669663

Standard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 interior shown here.

So it’s pretty much a comfort thing and has nothing to do with performance, as you’d expect from both the ZL1 and 1LE badges. It’s a bit disappointing given that Chevy has put a lot of thought in improving aerodynamics, downforce, and performance overall, but GM is probably trying to keep customers who are looking for comfort happy too.

The good news is that the ZL1 already has a sporty interior that includes a flat-bottom steering wheel, Recaro front seats with "ZL1" logos, suede inserts on the passenger-side dashboard and door panels, contrast stitching, aluminum trim, and a bespoke display for the infotainment screen.

THE COMPETITION

2016 - 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang High Resolution Interior
- image 578019

Much like the ZL1, the GT350 is essentially a Mustang GT with added goodies. Modern and more upscale than ever, the new interior that Ford introduced in late 2013 (also inspired by classic Mustangs, just like the current Camaro), has been updated to include sporting details such as a flat-bottom steering wheel, Recaro bucket seats wrapped in a unique cloth, and a collection of driver controls that alter the ABS brakes, stability and traction control system, and suspension stiffness. Ford also removed all the chrome and bright finishes in order to reduce glare and prevent the driver from getting distracted. The gauges have also been changed to reflect the new speeds and revs the car is capable of. The GT350 is also equipped with a customizable Performance Shift Light Indicator, a heads-up display that signals the perfect engine speed for the shift point to allow drivers to better concentrate on the road ahead rather than watching the rev counter. On the other hand, dual-zone climate control isn’t standard, being included in a Tech Package that also adds leather seats with power adjustment, an audio system, and a MyFord Touch LCD infotainment system. Opt for the Electronics Package and you also get SYNC 3 voice-activated navigation and a nine-speaker audio system.

The GT350 is a bit rugged when it comes to convenience features.

Needless to say, the GT350 is a bit rugged when it comes to convenience features compared to the ZL1 1LE, unless you’re willing to spend some extra cash on options. But some track enthusiasts might enjoy this.

If you’re among those who prefer a no-nonsense interior, then the GT350R might be the car you’re looking for. Not only this version doesn’t have the air conditioning and the sound system, but it’s also missing the rear seats, backup camera, and trunk floorboard and carpet to further lighten up the car. Sure, you can have all of them by selecting the Electronics Package, but the standard GT350R is the lightest track-ready muscle car you can buy!

Drivetrain

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706865
The ZL1 1LE gets its juice from the supercharged, LT4 V-8 engine.

The ZL1 1LE gets its juice from a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine rated at 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. If these figures sound familiar it’s because we’re talking about the exact same unit offered in the standard ZL1. Yup, Chevy made no upgrades to the LT4 powerplant sourced from the Corvette Z06 and the bespoke intake and exhaust systems.

However, while the stock ZL1 can be optioned up with Chevy’s new 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the 1LE is restricted to the six-speed manual gearbox with Active Rev Match.

The ZL1 1LE is three seconds quicker than the standard ZL1 around GM's Milford test track.

Although output remains unchanged, the 1LE should perform better than the ZL1, as the lighter wheels and dampers, along with thinner rear glass and fixed-back rear seat shave off around 60 pounds from the standard coupe. There’s no official 0-to-60 mph time to compare, but Chevy did say that in preliminary testing, the ZL1 1LE was three seconds quicker than the standard ZL1 coupe around GM’s 2.9-mile Milford Road Course test track. Unfortunately, there’s no specific information as to how many minutes the regular ZL1 needs to lap Milford and we can’t compare the ZL1 1LE to the Z/28, which holds the record for Camaros on GM’s proving grounds at 01:53.71 minutes.

When it comes to speeding up from a standing start, it’s safe to that the 1LE is at least a tenth-second quicker than the standard ZL1, so expect a 0-to-60 sprint of 3.4 seconds and a quarter mile time of 11.3 seconds at almost 130 mph.

COMPETING PERFORMANCE

The GT350 is significantly less powerful than the ZL1 1LE, missing 124 horsepower and a whopping 221 pound-feet.

This is where the ZL1 1LE and the GT350 are entirely different. While the Camaro comes with a massive, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, the Mustang uses a naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter, flat-plane crank V-8 to spin its rear tires. The mill is rated at 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, which makes it Ford’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine to date. As it happens with all-engine configurations, the GT350 is significantly less powerful than the ZL1 1LE, missing 124 horsepower and a whopping 221 pound-feet of twist. It’s obviously not as quick as the Camaro with its best 0-to-60 mph run recorded at 3.8 seconds, but three to four tenths aren’t a big deal given the massive power deficit. And besides, power isn’t all that matters on a race track and there’s a big chance that the GT350R will be quicker on the race course. The transmission is a lightweight six-speed manual and all the power is routed through a special Ford-tuned Torsen limited slip differential.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
Engine supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 5.2-liter Ti-VCT V8 5.2-liter Ti-VCT V8
Horsepower 650 HP 526 HP @ 7,500 RPM 526 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 650 LB-FT 429 LB-FT @ 4,750 RPM 429 LB-FT @ 4,750 RPM
Transmission six-speed manual six-speed manual six-speed manual
0 to 60 mph 3.4 seconds 3.8 seconds 3.8 seconds
Quarter mile 11.3 seconds @ 130 mph 12.5 seconds @ 119 mph 12.5 seconds @ 119 mph

Chassis, Suspension, and Brakes

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 706867

It’s here where Chevy made the most drastic changes in order to improve performance. For starters, the 1LE package adds racing-derived, lightweight Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers front and rear for increased wheel and vehicle control. The front suspension features all-new camber plates and it’s fully adjustable, while the rear stabilizer bar comes with three-way adjustability. Chevy says that all these components are designed for quick change at the track, as well as a quick return to street settings when the track day ends.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 706866
The 1LE package adds racing-derived, lightweight Multimatic DSSV dampers front and rear for increased wheel and vehicle control.

Another important addition are the lightweight, forged-aluminum wheels, which are an inch wider but an inch smaller in diameter than the standard ZL1. The rims come wrapped in new Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires that deliver a maximum lateral grip of 1.10g. Developed exclusively for the ZL1 1LE, the rubber warms up faster to help maintain more consistent grip and speed. Overall, footprint increased by about 10 percent over the ZL1, but the wheels and tires weigh about 1.5 pounds less at each corner, accounting for a total reduction of six pounds.

Brembo brakes at all corners, including red calipers with the 1LE logo, are also included in the standard package.

THE COMPETITION

2016 - 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang High Resolution Exterior
- image 578032
The Shelby GT350R comes with lighter, carbon-fiber wheels as standard.

The chassis and suspension systems are what make the GT350 deliver quick lap times at the track. The GT350 benefits from a custom-tuned independent suspension with MagneRide magnetic dampers, a wider front track, increased spring rates, and a lowered ride height. The braking system is equally impressive, consisting of massive 15.5-inch rotors up front and 14.9-inch discs to the rear. The former are clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers, while the latter work with four-piston units. The GT350R comes with a different package and a secret that lies wrapped in the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. I’m talking about carbon-fiber wheels, which are standard on the muscle car, making Ford the first major manufacturer to introduce the technology as standard equipment. The rims shave 52 pounds off the GT350R’s total weight, while providing higher levels of stiffness compared to aluminum rims. No wonder this naturally aspirated thing is so quick!

Prices

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706864

The 1LE package for the ZL1 costs $7,500, a $3,000 premium over the 1LE for the V6 model and $1K more than the bundle for the SS. This brings the MSRP of the 2018 ZL1 1LE to $69,995, which includes the $995 destination freight charge. This sticker makes the ZL1 1LE the most expensive Camaro currently available, a feature that won’t change until Chevy rolls out a new Z/28.

COMPETING PRICES

Pricing for the Shelby GT350 starts from $49,995, including destination and the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, which makes it significantly more affordable than what the Camaro ZL1 1LE is expected to cost. However, the optional packages are pretty expensive, with the Tech Package costing $7,500 and other bundles adding at least $3,000 to the sticker. All told, an optioned up GT350 will set you back at least $60,000. Buy the GT350R version and the price jumps to $63,495, which is only $6,000 short of the Camaro ZL1 1LE. Add a few more options and you get close to $70,000.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 $61,140
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE $69,995
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 $49,995
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R $63,495

Competition

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
- image 707025
2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
- image 707028

Unlike the GT350, the Challenger SRT Hellcat has the supercharged power to challenge the Camaro ZL1 1LE in a quarter-mile race. On the other hand, the Hellcat isn’t much of a track car. Although it will definitely do well in a race, it can’t be as fast on a twisty course as it was built more like a drag car than anything else. A beefed-up Challenger by looks, the Hellcat also lacks a comprehensive aero package built for track use. It’s indeed menacing to look at, but it lacks the aero work in the front bumper and a proper wing. It’s pretty solid under the hood though, with the supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 churning a massive 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. With a 0-to-60 mph sprint of around 3.5 seconds, a 11.2-second quarter-mile time on street tires, and a top speed of 202 mph, the Challenger Hellcat is a worthy adversary as long as there’s no racing at Laguna Seca. Pricing starts from $64,195, which makes it more affordable than the Camaro ZL1 1LE.

Find out more about the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat here.

BMW M4 GTS

2016 BMW M4 GTS High Resolution Exterior
- image 649568
2016 BMW M4 GTS High Resolution Exterior
- image 649570

Granted, the M4 GTS is no longer for sale as all 700 units were sold in just a few weeks back in 2016, but there’s more where it came from and another similar model should be launched soon. Equipped with a more aerodynamic body and a massive, motorsport-inspired rear wing, the M4 GTS is as ready for on-track racing as they get. It’s also lighter than usual and comes with bucket seats, rear-seat delete, and lightweight door panels as standard. Power is provided by the same twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six found in the regular M4, but output has been raised to 493 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, a 68-horsepower and 37-pound-feet increase. Using a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, it can hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds before reaching a top speed of 190 mph. Granted, it’s not as quick as the Camaro ZL1 1LE, but it’s a solid track weapon with a Nurburgring lap time of 7:28 minutes. Its main downside is that its costs $134,200, which is almost double the amount you’d have to pay for the ZL1 1LE. Ouch!

Learn more about the BMW M4 GTS here.

Conclusion

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706863

The Camaro ZL1 1LE is definitely a unique car, in the sense that, for the first time, the ZL1 gained a factory-built lightweight upgrade. You can never have too many aero updates and weight-saving measures in a performance car and this is exactly what makes the ZL1 1LE the most appealing Camaro out there. The performance is solid, the pricing is decent, and I bet this American coupe will be loads of fun at the track. However, I can’t get past the fact that Chevy focused a bit too much on comfort. Without so many convenience features, the ZL1 1LE would have been much lighter and quicker around the track. All I can hope is that Chevy will launch a new Camaro Z/28 soon. This will explain why the ZL1 1LE is about creature comforts more than anything else. If a new Z/28 isn’t coming, Chevy might have made a big mistake.

  • Leave it
    • * Too many comfort features for a track car?
    • * A bit more expensive than the competition
    • * Not exactly a Z/28

Press Release

Chevrolet has established a new performance benchmark with the introduction of the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE — the most track-capable Camaro ever.

Taking the track-focused 1LE formula to an unprecedented level, the ZL1 1LE incorporates racing-based suspension and aero technologies, as well as exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer-only tires,* in an extreme track performance package.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706859

“The track-focused 1LE package offers progressive levels of performance across the Camaro lineup, from the V6 1LE to the SS 1LE,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “But with the new ZL1 1LE, the progression takes a quantum leap — this is the ultimate track-day Camaro.”

In preliminary testing, the new ZL1 1LE was 3 seconds faster than the standard ZL1 Coupe around General Motors’ 2.9-mile, 18-turn Milford Road Course test track.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706860

The improved track performance is driven by four key elements:

Aerodynamics: New aero features including a carbon fiber rear wing, specific air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia produce grip-generating downforce to help the car stick harder and drive faster in turns.
Adjustable suspension: The ZL1 1LE features racing-derived, lightweight Multimatic DSSV® (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers front and rear for exceptional wheel and vehicle control. The front-end ride height is adjustable with the front dampers, which are used with all-new, adjustable camber plates. The rear stabilizer bar also offers three-way adjustability. All of the components are designed for quick changes at the track for optimal performance and a quick return to street settings when the track day ends.
Wheels and tires: New, lightweight forged aluminum wheels are an inch wider but an inch smaller in diameter, front and rear, than standard ZL1 wheels and are used with new Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires that deliver max lateral grip of 1.10g. Developed exclusively for the Camaro ZL1 1LE, the 3R tires are designed to warm up faster to help maintain more consistent grip and speed, lap after lap. The overall footprint grows approximately 10 percent over the ZL1, but the wheel-and-tire package weighs about 1.5 pounds (3.3 kg) less per corner.
Lighter weight: The lighter wheels and dampers, along with reduced thickness rear glass and a fixed-back rear seat, contribute to an approximately 60-pound (27 kg) lower curb weight than a standard ZL1 Coupe.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706864

“The new Camaro ZL1 1LE offers the supreme track experience,” said Mark Dickens, executive director, Chevrolet Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering. “It’s the pinnacle of Camaro performance and advances the 1LE’s nearly 30-year legacy of uncompromising, track-tailored capability.”

The power behind the ZL1 1LE is the 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine backed by a six-speed manual transmission featuring Active Rev Match. Brembo brakes, including red calipers with the 1LE logo, are also included. Additional standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose premium audio system, heated/ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE High Resolution Exterior
- image 706865

The 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE goes on sale later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

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