The latest generation the Camaro ZL1 was the top dog of the range on the track, but apparently, Chevy had other plans up its sleeves. Making its debut today at the Daytona International Speedway is the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE, an even more hardcore version of what was already labeled by many as a track monster.
We had actually caught the Camaro ZL1 1LE back in October of 2016 while testing, but at the time, we had wrongly assumed it was a mule for the next Z/28.
Chevy uses the 1LE packages on the standard V6 and V8 Camaros to improve their handling, and it promises to do the same with the ZL1 adding special aero technologies, an adjustable racing suspension, exclusive tires while also reducing weight.
“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. “But with the new ZL1 1LE, the progression takes a quantum leap — this is the ultimate track-day Camaro.”
According to the company, in preliminary testing, the new ZL1 1LE was 3 seconds faster than the standard ZL1 Coupe around General Motors’ 2.9-mile, 18-turn Milford Road Course test track. Three seconds might not sound a lot to the uninitiated, but’s it’s a huge improvement when we’re talking about track times.
Chevy says it achieved this without touching the ZL1’s 6.2-liter LT4 V8 that continues to put down 650hp and 650 lb-ft of torque and is linked exclusively to a 6sp manual (the new 10speed auto is not offered), through four key elements starting with the aerodynamics. New features include a giant carbon fiber rear wing, specific air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia that generate more downforce.
One of the most important updates brought along by the 1LE package is the replacement of the standard ZL1’s Magnetic Ride shocks with the racing-derived, lightweight Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers on both ends, which was used on the previous Camaro Z/28 with astounding results. Chevy also made other tweaks to the suspension including a three-way adjustable rear stabilizer bar.
The ZL1 1LE rides on new, 1-inch wider, but an inch smaller in diameter front and rear forged alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires that deliver max lateral grip of 1.10g and which warm up faster. While the overall footprint grows around 10 percent over the regular ZL1, the wheel-and-tire package weighs about 1.5 pounds (3.3 kg) less per corner.
The use of lighter wheels and dampers, along with reduced thickness rear glass and a fixed-back rear seat, help the 1LE drop about 60-pounds (27 kg) over the standard ZL1 Coupe.
Chevy said the new ZL1 1LE will reach dealers later this year, with pricing to be announced.