2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Brings The Thunder With 640HP And Available 10-Speed Auto

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Proving that the horsepower wars are far from over, Chevrolet unveiled the new 2017 Camaro sporting the Corvette Z06’s supercharged V8 pushing out an estimated 640hp (477 kW) and 640 lb-ft of torque (868 Nm).

That’s 10hp and 10 lb-ft short of the same 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8 found in the Corvette Z06, but a 60hp and 84 lb-ft leap over the previous Camaro ZL1’s 580hp 6.2-liter supercharged LSA powerplant. Not only that, but the new ZL1 underwent a rigorous diet and lost 200 pounds (91 kg) over its predecessor.

While GM hasn’t shared any performance numbers yet, it’s not hard to imagine that the new top dog in the Camaro’s lineup will be faster than the old ZL1 that hit 60mph (96km/h) in 4.0 seconds for the manual and 3.9 seconds for the automatic version with respective top speeds of 180mph (290 km/h) and 184mph (296 km/h).

Speaking of transmissions, a six-speed manual with active rev-matching capability remains the standard option for the 2017 Camaro ZL1, but the big news here is the first application of GM’s brand-new 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears. Co-developed with Ford, the 10-speed automatic will eventually be introduced to eight GM vehicle models before the end of 2018.

Beyond the powertrain, the ZL1 gets a suite of performance technologies, including an updated Magnetic Ride suspension, Performance Traction Management, electronic limited-slip differential, Custom Launch Control and Driver Mode Selector. It rides on 20-inch forged alloys in 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, with stopping power coming from a set of Brembo brakes with six-piston front and four piston rear calipers.

“The Camaro ZL1 is designed to excel at everything,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development. “It’s a 2+2 coupe offering incredible performance – acceleration, handling and braking – with the highest levels of technology and perfect chassis damping, making it suitable for everyday driving. It will compare well to any sports coupe, at any price and in any setting.”

The ZL1 isn’t shy of its racing pedigree, with GM stating that its exterior was “shaped during more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel testing and on-track validation to improve aerodynamics and cooling for track use”. Nevertheless, the first thing we noticed about the supercharged Camaro is that huge mouth under the slim upper grille; while it may do its job feeding air to the engine and aiding aerodynamics, its aesthetics are on the questionable side.

It also gets a newly designed hood, with a carbon fiber insert and heat extractor, a larger front splitter, unique rockers, a wing-style rear spoiler and wider front fenders.

“The design supports the Camaro ZL1’s exceptional performance and does so with compelling style,” said John Mack, Camaro exterior design manager. “From every angle, the elements coalesce to give the car a purposeful, super aggressive attitude.”

The interior plays along the same tune with standard Recaro front seats, a sueded flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob, while Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder will be available too.

We’ll see the new 2017 Camaro ZL1 for the first time at next week’s New York Auto Show before it goes on sale towards the end of the year.

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