Nearly as powerful as the Corvette Z06

The Camaro ZL1 was revived in 2012 after more than 40 years since its initial introduction as a supercharged, range-topping version of the fifth-generation muscle car. Although it had very little in common with its naturally aspirated predecessor, the ZL1 became popular among Chevy enthusiasts who wanted a competitor for the Shelby GT500. While the previous ZL1 arrived two years after the fifth-gen Camaro was launched, the new model made its global debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show, only months after the sixth-gen Camaro broke cover. Alongside the supercharged coupe, Chevy also unveiled the ZL1 Convertible.

Essentially a ZL1 with a canvas roof instead of a metal top, the ZL1 Convertible is currently the only factory-made, supercharged drop-top from the "Big Three." It is also the only track-capable cabriolet made in Detroit, as neither Ford nor Dodge offer similar versions of the Mustang or the Challenger. While the Challenger was conceived as a coupe only, the Mustang is not yet available in GT500 specs. Sure, the Mustang can be had in GT and Super Snake clothes with a force-fed V-8 from Shelby American, but none of them are offered with a convertible options as of March 2016.

This makes the ZL1 Convertible unique in this niche and a damn cool muscle car. We already know what the new ZL1 Coupe is capable of, so it’s time to have a look at its drop-top sibling.

Updated 03/24/2016: Chevrolet unveiled the new 2017 ZL1 Convertible at the 2016 New York Auto Show next to its coupe brother.

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

  • 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    640
  • Torque @ RPM:
    640
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    185 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    66000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670737

Not surprisingly, the ZL1 Convertible is identical to its coupe stablemate below the waist. However, compared to its predecessor, it’s a significant departure styling-wise. First, being based on the sixth-gen Camaro, it is slightly smaller due to Chevy’s desire to move its pony closer to the sports coupe segment rather than the full-fledged muscle car market. Second, it is based on a more aggressive design highlighted by mean-looking headlamps, larger front bumper openings, a muscular engine hood, and a sporty rear end with first-gen Camaro-inspired taillights and big exhaust outlets.

The ZL1 package gives the sixth-gen Camaro a more menacing appearance thanks to the redesigned front fascia with a much larger intake under the skinny grille, larger, redesigned cooling ducts, and vertical LED daytime running lights

The ZL1 package gives the sixth-gen Camaro a more menacing appearance thanks to the redesigned front fascia with a much larger intake under the skinny grille, larger, redesigned cooling ducts, and vertical LED daytime running lights. The new grille pattern for both upper and lower openings, wider front fenders, black "bowtie" badge, and the vented hood with with carbon-fiber help set the ZL1 apart from the SS even more.

The black-painted side skirts, the new lightweight wheels in gloss-black, and the lower suspension setup seen on the coupe are present on the cabriolet as well, hinting that the ZL1 is more than just a regular summer ride. More race-inspired awesomeness can be spotted around back, starting with the diffuser and the large exhaust pipes, and ending with the trunk lid spoiler for extra downforce at high speed.

Much like the coupe, the convertible’s exterior was shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel and on-track testing for the best aerodynamic and cooling configuration out there. All told, the new ZL1 Convertible is more aerodynamic, delivers greater stability, and its engine breathes better when taken to the limit.

Moving over to what sets the convertible apart, the new ZL1 features a new, fully automatic soft-top that seamlessly disappears beneath the body-colored hard tonneau cover behind the rear seats. The top can be raised or lowered at the press of a button while driving up to 30 mph. It can also be lowered remotely with the key fob. Chevy doesn’t say how long it takes for the top to fold, but it should be a matter of seconds.

Interior

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Interior
- image 670602

The interior of the convertible is identical to the coupe’s, which in turn has a few extra features over the package you get with the Camaro SS. Goodies specific to this model include a flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob wrapped in suede, Recaro front seats with "ZL1" logos as standard, 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 Convertible is pretty much an upscale version of the redesigned Camaro, but that’s nothing to sneeze at, as the new pony comes with a larger infotainment screen placed higher in the center stack, a cleaner center stack, and heating and cooling controls integrated into the rings surrounding the air ducts. The new ZL1 not only feels fresh, but more spacious and upscale too. We could complain about the lack of carbon-fiber, typical in similar cars from German brands, but the Camaro ZL1 is still a nice place to spend time in, especially with the top down on a sunny day.

Drivetrain

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670735

Under the hood, the ZL1 Convertible gets the same supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine as the coupe. But, unlike the previous 6.2-liter, which was an LSA based on the LS9 from the C6-generation Corvette ZR1, the new V-8 shares most of its components with the awesome LT4 that debuted in the C7 Corvette Z06. Setting it apart from the Corvette is the ZL1-specific intake and exhaust system and the 640 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque ratings, a 10-horsepower and 10-pound-foot decrease from the Vette.

Under the hood, the ZL1 Convertible gets the same supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine as the coupe

But, while the new supercharged Camaro is less powerful than the Z06, which is actually quite normal, it boasts and extra 60 horses and whopping 84-pound-feet compared to the previous ZL1.

There’s big news in the transmission department as well. While the six-speed manual carries over with certain enhancements and rev matching technology, the previous automatic was replaced by a brand-new, 10-cog unit. Used for the first time in the ZL1, the new automatic is said to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration and when exiting corners to deliver quicker laps around race tracks and quicker responses on both up- and down-shifts.

Performance numbers are not yet available, but the ZL1 Convertible should be able to hit 60 mph from a standing start in less than four seconds, probably closer to the 3.5-second mark. Top speed should exceed 185 mph.

Prices

With the current ZL1 Convertible retailing from $61,700, the next-gen model should start from around $66,000 before options.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
- image 670489

Much like its predecessor, the new ZL1 Convertible won’t have much competition from Ford and Dodge. While the Blue Oval has yet to develop a supercharged, drop-top version of the Mustang, FCA doesn’t even offer a convertible variant of the Challenger. Sure, you can always go with the 627-horsepower Shelby Super Snake or the 707-horsepower Hellcat if you’re not a fan of the bowtie badge, but you’ll have to give up on the infinite headroom that comes with the ZL1 Convertible.

For on option that combines both horsepower and a foldable roof you’ll have to go to Mercedes-AMG for the new-for-2016 C63 Cabriolet. Just like the coupe, the drop-top uses a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 that packs 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque in its most powerful version. That might not sound like much when compared to the ZL1’s supercharged 640 horses, but the German machine is pretty quick from 0 to 60 mph, needing only four seconds to complete the benchmark. Its top speed is inferior at 174 mph, but the C63 boasts many advantages, including a gorgeous interior and state-of-the-art safety features. The Merc will be a bit more expensive, with the sticker likely to sit around the $70,000 mark.

Read more about the Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet here.

Conclusion

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 670603

The previous ZL1 Convertible was praised for its strong acceleration and head-turning looks, but it also had the advantage of being unique in the muscle car world as the only supercharged, convertible pony on the market. The new ZL1 appears to be better in just about every department, as it brings together the sixth-gen Camaro’s new looks, significantly lighter platform, sporty attitude, and the awesome LT4 engine in the Corvette Z06. Being the only supercharged convertible on the market, it’s no surprise that Chevrolet decided to launch it only months after the sixth-gen Camaro debuted.

  • Leave it
    • * Has nothing in common with the original Camaro ZL-1
    • * 640-horsepower rating could steal customers from the Corvette Z06

Rendering

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 660648

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.

“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.”

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670735

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.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670736

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.

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

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670737

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).

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 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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