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Lightning Lap 2017: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/5/2017 K.C. COLWELL, JOSH JACQUOT, TONY QUIROGA, AARON ROBINSON, ERIC TINGWALL

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Lap Time: 2:50.1

Class: LL3

Base Price: $65,830

As-Tested Price: $68,225

Power and Weight: 650 hp • 3925 lb • 6.0 lb/hp

Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3, F: 285/30ZR-20 (95Y) R: 305/30ZR-20 (99Y)

The best laps usually happen in the early morning, when the air is cooler than Miles Davis. Later, the track surface turns to lava and no good can come of that. On our go-for-it lap, with the ZL1 huffing the dense morning air, we arrived at the Climbing Esses with greater speed than ever before and couldn’t get it to turn into the first right. While the car mostly stayed on the tarmac, a curb strike bent a front wheel. By the time we changed it and got back in the ZL1, the track was about as cool as Kenny G.

In more favorable conditions, we’re confident that the Camaro ZL1 had a 2:48 in it, maybe a 2:47. Even though we are disappointed by our 2:50.1, the regular ZL1 is still 0.8 second quicker than the 2015 Z/28.

Lightning Lap 2017: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1© K.C. COLWELL, JOSH JACQUOT, TONY QUIROGA, AARON ROBINSON, ERIC TINGWALL Lightning Lap 2017: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Unlike the manual-only ZL1 1LE, this ZL1 arrived with the optional 10-speed automatic. Instant shifts and wafer-thin gaps between the gears kept the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 near its 650-hp power peak at all times. There’s only one place where the auto tripped us up. In the off-camber downhill left that follows the uphill esses, the gearbox downshifts exactly as the nose turns in. A dab of the brake before the turn-in point and the tilt of the corner work to shift the car’s weight to the front axle. When that shift hits, it unsettles the light rear end, which is not what you want when you’re trying to coax a 3925-pound car down a hill in a controlled fashion at nearly 100 mph.

As with the 1LE version, managing the ZL1’s power oversteer by dialing in the right amount of throttle is a full-time gig. The only difference is that, in the ZL1, you’re doing it at slightly lower speeds, as it lacks the chassis changes, stickier rubber, and aero add-ons of its Maori-warrior brother. Another difference between the two: The ZL1 is a pleasant daily driver. It’ll likely be more than enough car for even hard-core track rats, and you might just beat our time.

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