The Camaro’s disappearance for eight years beginning in 2002 has quickly being forgotten. That’s because the current generation Camaro has met and exceeded all expectations for this 2+2 sport coupe. This spring a Camaro convertible rolls out, but it won’t be the most sought after model in the Camaro fleet. That honor will belong to the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, a 550 horsepower machine powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine paired with a Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission.
Making its global debut at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, the ZL1 takes its name from a limited production model from four decades back. In 1969, GM produced just 69 copies of an all-aluminum racing engine with the same name what has long been the most powerful Camaro ever built. That’s about to change with the 2012 Camaro ZL1, a model producing 550 foot-pounds of torque.
The Camaro ZL1 transmission should appeal to enthusiasts who have a need for performance. The transmission is used with a dual-mass flywheel and twin-disc clutch shifting ease and operation. A new, shorter-throw shifter drives the shifting gears. Drivers will be able to bring their rides to a quick, safe stop as this model includes track-capable Brembo brakes.
While tooling down the road, drivers will be able to select tour and sport modes of the coupe’s magnetic ride suspension, enhancing shock damping while minimizing body roll. Standard rear stabilizer bars feature drop links that have been repositioned outboard of the control arms, providing effective body roll control. Electric steering has been improved for this model, giving the driver greater feedback.
Visually, exterior enhancements include a redesigned fascia mated with an aluminum hood featuring a raised, carbon fiber insert. New vertical fog lamps, air intakes, air extractors, HID headlamps and a rear diffuser and spoiler are among the particulars offered. The forged-aluminum wheels are the same size as the 20-inch wheels found on the Camaro SS, but are lighter and paired with Goodyear Supercar F2 tires.
Inside, the Camaro ZL1 offers front seats with microfiber suede inserts, a redesigned steering wheel, alloy pedals, head-up display with performance readouts and the 4-pack auxiliary gauge system with boost readout. ZL1 logos are affixed on the door sills; rear parking assist and a rear-view camera with display are standard. A premium sound system comes courtesy of Boston Acoustics; the steering wheel features audio controls with Bluetooth capability.
Prices have yet to be announced for this special edition Camaro, designed to take on the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. However, a sticker price somewhere north of $50,000 seems likely, keeping in line with what the top of the range ‘Stang is going for.