The sixth generation Camaro is nothing shy of epic. Unquestionably, it marks a new generation of precision with elite performance from street to strip. Being named the 2016 Motor Trend “Car of the Year” only further cemented its already-riveting influence and mass consumer appeal. “The Chevrolet Camaro is a living legend with timeless great looks and a wide variety of performance options. Its body styles become instant classics,” said Frank Thibodeau of Moroso. And the sixth generation is no exception.
In his article How GM’s Toy Begets Your Fav Toy, Jared Gall wrote, “(The Camaro) is a Corvette with a back seat. It impresses with the same punchy start-up bark and pissed-off snort at full throttle as in the Corvette. The V8 has a worthy understudy in its V6 counterpart.” Camaro fans, be ready for a classic vibe with an adrenaline rush. Genius engineering delivers a thrilling driving experience in the form of a lighter design that provides more responsive braking and better attack in and out of corners with noticeable nimbleness at every turn.
“We wanted to modify the platform to achieve proportions that I think were critical to the success of the Camaro. The sixth generation Camaro is all about responding to what we learned from the fifth on the street. We set out to create a sculptural form that reflected the mass reduction, aerodynamics and just pure beauty,” said Tom Peters, Chevrolet Director of Exterior Design-Performance Vehicles.
The LT and SS models rest upon the GM Alpha platform, currently used by the Cadillac ATS and universally admired. Subsequently, the 2016 Camaro shed some weight during production, strutting onto lots 200 lbs. lighter than its predecessor. Early production touts three engine versions: a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four producing 275 horsepower; a new 3.6L V6 making 335 horsepower; and a 6.2L LT1 V8 kicking out 455 stock ponies.
Road & Track proclaimed “the all-new SS trains under its racing forefather to once again confront the Mustang.” The Camaro is shattering records, snarling at its Mustang rivals in the rear-view mirror. “Some things come and go and don’t leave a mark. But some things leave such an impression that they’re immediately unforgettable,” noted Car and Driver. “There’s something intrinsic in the shape and character of it. It’s more than a good-looking machine. It’s a unique personality that people want to be associated with,” said Peters.
A Lasting Impression
The ZL1 is one such model leaving an impression; it creates magic at every turn with a powerful supercharged 6.2L LT4 capable of a staggering 650 horsepower at 6400 rpm, 650 lb-ft torque at 3600 rpm and features magnetic ride suspension with an electronic limited slip differential that pulls up to 1.02g of lateral force when cornering. Wait, did someone say 650 horsepower? Sit back and cruise from 0-60 mph in first gear! “That’s stock. That’s without adding a turbo, which just takes its factory development to a whole new level,” said Dave Burke, Category Manager at Keystone.
Car and Driver writer Josh Jacquot said it’s like “riding sideways in the most powerful Camaro in history. We learn the value of big power, big noise and total control. So it shouldn’t surprise us that this car can at once be so unapologetically raw and yet so seemingly controllable. So loud yet so articulate. Finding those traits melded in a single piece of hardware like the ZL1 is one of the great joys of being a car enthusiast today. And it’s quite likely that the ZL1 is the most rewarding means ever created to move leaves off a racetrack.” Poetry to our ears, for sure.
The ZL1 will have drivers howling at the moon. But speed demons can get a fix with the V6 option as well. The 2016 Lightning Lap recap proves Chevy crafted a 2017 Camaro 1LE that brings track artistry to a V6 for the first time.
A V6 at Lightning Speed
“The 2017 Camaro V6 1LE does not merely claim the fastest LL1 time in the 10-year existence of Lightning Lap, it blasts the old record with eight sticks of dynamite. At $34,495, the Camaro 1LE steals more than eight seconds from the previous LL1 record holders. In doing so, it leaves in its wake a parade of more powerful and more expensive cars. And it absolutely stomps its current Blue Oval rival, the Mustang EcoBoost equipped with the performance package. Were they on the track at the same time, the boosted Mustang would only be exiting Hog Pen onto the front straight as the Camaro crossed the start/finish line at 3:04. The first six-cylinder in the 28 year history of the 1LE badge, this Camaro offers far more grip than go,” said Car and Driver.
And although factory performance is spot on, the aftermarket is still ripe for the taking. “With the introduction of the sixth generation Camaro, we anticipate an increase in an already strong aftermarket presence and passion among buyers. The newest Camaro builds upon a deep tradition of loyal ownership. And those improvements can be seen throughout the new platform. In fact, we are currently formulating a build plan for a new 2016 2SS shop car we acquired just this month. Plans include a supercharger, complete exhaust with headers along with various engine, suspension and cosmetic upgrades,” said Matt Hauffe, owner of Tune Time Performance in New Jersey. Name brands like MagnaFlow, DiabloSport and Gibson Performance remain at the forefront of the modern muscle category.
“Some of our best selling parts are for the current late-model Camaro. Consider bolt-on frame connectors, drift shaft safety loop, air oil separator kits and spark plug wires,” added Thibodeau of Moroso. “These cars are in Corvette territory. The aftermarket potential is just unbelievable. Plenty of power and accessible, plentiful parts,” added Burke. “No matter what year or platform, the Camaro will always have its core enthusiast in mind, making it a strong market,” continued Rory Connell of Gibson Performance.
Meet You at the Track
Bottom line, the sixth generation Camaro has a winning combination. And it begs competitors to either bring their A-game or stay home. Those delusional enough to talk trash should expect to eat crow. Sixth-gen owners are about to cross the finish line, pop a beer and chow down a pizza before the next closest contender clocks time. There’s a clear wolf pack leader in 2017, and “it’s a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.”