2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE First Look
Set to roll out later this year, the new 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE is destined to become the most enthusiast-intensive version of Chevy’s pony car ever created. Introduced in conjunction with the Daytona 500, the car's racing-derived aerodynamic and suspension enhancements are complemented by significant weight-reduction that puts this Gen 6 Camaro in a world of its own. “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 at the car’s reveal. “But with the new ZL1 1LE, the progression takes a quantum leap — this is the ultimate track-day Camaro.”
To ensure it looks and acts the part, the 1LE boasts a number of functional exterior tweaks starting with its more aggressive front fascia that has larger, flow-enhancing upper and lower grille openings – including the LT1’s trick “Flow Tie” logo -- framed by black carbon fiber air deflectors, front splitter and dive planes. Also carrying over from the ZL1 is its aluminum hood with carbon fiber insert and a glare-killing satin black wrap. Out back there’s an even more prominent carbon fiber fixed wing that produces roughly 300 pounds of downforce–about double that of the standard ZL1. Mounted on hollow stanchions, it’s flanked by smoked taillamp lenses that are a ZL1 option.
The ultimate corner carver
While no changes were made to the Camaro Coupe’s structure, the new 1LE variant has solid-mounted front strut towers and a rear cradle to help sharpen its reflexes. The biggest departure from the base ZL1 is the use of racing-style Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers front and rear. This updated version of the DSSV system used in the Gen 5 Camaro 1LE and Z/28 is designed to provide superior control while allowing quick and easy adjustability between street/circuit settings. That includes being able to tweak the ride height all around as well as all-new, adjustable camber plates up front and a rear stabilizer bar with 3-way adjustability.
While the car’s robust Brembo brakes carry from the ZL1, the wheel/tire package is unique. The rim diameter drops from 20-inches to 19-inches and these lightweight, staggered-width forged-alloys are wrapped in custom-spec Goodyear Eagle 1 Supercar “3R” tires. The result of three years of development, Chevy says the summer-only 3Rs warm up faster, remain more consistent and enables the car to pull 1.1g maximum lateral grip. If that’s not enough, they also help trim 1.5 pounds off of each corner.
Available only in Coupe form, the newest 1LE will retain the ZL1’s 650-horsepower/650-lb-ft of torque 6.2-liter Supercharged LT4 V8. It comes with the stout Tremec 6-speed manual transmission (no automatic option) that features Active Rev Match as well as 1LE-specific top-gear ratio. Chevrolet has not offered any 60-mph times for the car, but it did say preliminary testing at the 2.9-mile road course at Milford Proving Ground saw it trim three seconds off of a ZL1’s best time and hinted broadly that the official top speed will be in excess of 200 mph.
The 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE weighs roughly 60 pounds less than the standard ZL1, with the bulk of that mass reduction coming from its suspension/wheel/tire mix as well as thinner rear window glass and a fixed-back rear seat. Since it will be a regular production option (RPO) for the ZL1, almost all of the other ZL1 standard features will remain, including dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose premium audio system, heated/ventilated Recaro front sport seats and a heated steering wheel. The 1LE bows later this year with the rest of the 2018 Camaro lineup, but there’s no word yet on how much the optional will cost. The current 2017 Camaro ZL1 6-speed opens at $63,435.
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