Chevrolet announces new ZL1 Camaro

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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580 horsepower... it's more power than Lamborghini's Gallardo LP 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale can generate as well as the Lexus LFA. Yet, 580 horsepower is what's available in the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Though Canadian pricing hasn't been announced, it's shocking that so much power is available in such a relatively inexpensive vehicle. After all, both the Lamborghini and the Lexus cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and it's likely that the power-laden Camaro will be priced at under $60,000.

"The Camaro ZL1 delivers supercar performance and technology in the sports-car segment," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro Chief Engineer. "For sheer power, the ZL1 delivers more horsepower than a Ferrari 458, more torque than an Aston Martin DB9 V12, and a better power-to-weight ratio than a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS."

The power is produced by a supercharged, all-aluminum 6.2-litre engine that claims 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque, as rated by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). The ZL1 is quite simply the most-powerful production Camaro ever produced.

Transmission choices include a Tremec TR-6060 "MG9" 6-speed manual or a Hydra-Matic 6L90 automatic. Both transmissions have been developed to accommodate the power of the ZL1's supercharged engine. In the case of the manual, it makes use of a strengthened output shaft, an additional roller bearing and a high-strength rear housing to achieve a claimed 30 percent improvement in torque capacity when compared to the transmission in the Camaro SS. The automatic has a strengthened input gearset, an additional clutch plate and a strengthened output shaft and gearset.

While the ZL1's powerplant is definitely the Camaro's main attraction, the vehicle will also have another impressive feature, Magnetic Ride Control (MRC). The system magnetizes iron particles within Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluid by shocking them with electric currents. Magnetizing the iron particles helps to change the MR fluid's flow resistance and results in the ability to adjust the suspension damping for better conformity to road conditions. Chevrolet claims that the third-generation MRC system can adjust the ZL1's damping 1,000 times each second.

"Traditional suspension systems at some point compromise ride quality for road-holding grip and body control," said Oppenheiser. "With Magnetic Ride Control, we can offer customers the best of both worlds: A comfortable ride that makes the ZL1 appropriate as a daily driver and the incredibly precise body control that makes the ZL1 so enjoyable on the track."

According to Oppenheiser, the ZL1 will go into production in the first quarter of 2012. It will be assembled in Oshawa, Ontario.

The Camaro's main competition has always been Ford's Mustang and Dodge's Challenger. There's no word yet on what either rival automaker is planning to do in response to the announcement of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Ford's Mustang Shelby GT500, which already makes 550 horsepower for 2012, will likely get a bump in output, while the Challenger SRT8 392 might be left in pony car dust.

If Ford and Dodge do respond, it'll be like the 60s all over again with yet another horsepower battle.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Chevrolet, 2012, Camaro ZL1, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Chevrolet

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