Meet the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

July 5, 2014
What is it about cars that make it a numbers game for bragging rights? You can have the nicest set of wheels on the office with the best interior, the most space, but if the numbers don’t stack up, you’re not even in the game. This seems to be doubly so for American sports Take the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro for example. It comes standard with a 3.6-litre V6, which is nice enough but it’s not going to get you noticed. Well, not in the way its flagship brother, the supercharged V8-powered, ZL1 will. Its looks are deceptive and while I’ve always been a fan of the new-look Camaro’s retro lines, it’s not going to turn heads like an arrow-shaped Porsche or Ferrari. Yet when you start talking numbers, other petrolheads will take notice. The key figures; 580, 3.9 and 290 are the game changers which catapulted the ZL1 into supercardom, if there is such a word. It’s 6.2-litre V8 used in the former topline SS model has enjoyed a rather large power spike courtesy of a supercharger which results in this 2014 model pumping out 580 brake horsepower. That’s good enough to throw it down the road to 100kmh from standstill in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 290kmh. camaro4 It mightn’t look like Porsche or Ferrari bait, but talk the numbers and it certainly sounds it. The other figure you need to know for the Middle East is 230,000, that being the amount missing from your wallet in Emirati Dirhams after you drive away. So it’s pricey for a Camaro, very pricey and almost into Corvette territory although it is under its main rival, the ridiculously over-priced Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang despite offering similar performance. The new Camaro made its Middle East debut at the Dubai International Motor Show last November. Featuring a fast, low-slung silhouette and Chevrolet’s new MyLink connected radio, it is the most significant redesign since the introduction of the fifth- generation concept back in 2006. camaro1 The front fascia features a wider, lower grille and a narrower upper grille while its large, carbon fibre hood vents are also functional helping to extract heat built up from the engine bay and reduce aerodynamic lift. At the rear, a sculptured deck lid, horizontal tail lights and a diffuser complete the new look. Adding the supercharger which force-feeds its petrol/air mixture into the combustion chamber gives the LSA V8 engine a whopping 147bhp boost and cuts its acceleration time to 100kmh down by a full 1.3 seconds compared to the SS. See, numbers again. And as for fuel consumption, don’t ask! Put it this way, make sure that when you plan your long drive, it passes by preferably two petrol stations. A single afternoon’s drive into the desert with a full tank on departure had my forehead pushing out tiny beads of cold sweat on the run home as the needle dipped into the reserve while my eyes scanned the horizon for a fuel stop. However should you be stranded, at least you can whittle away the hours waiting for help by playing with the brilliant MyLink infotainment system. Introduced on Cadillac models a few years back it’s now made its way into the face lifted Camaro and I love it. [gallery link="none" ids="4930,4929"] Built in to the radio, it comprises a seven-inch, high resolution, full-color touch screen and is Bluetooth compatible with your smartphone. It allows users to open phone books, create personal playlists and even photo galleries. However its most useful function, satellite navigation is also the only extra-cost option for this system. Connectivity is also available through USB and aux-in jacks and it is one of the best of its type around. The Camaro was released as a retro concept during the 2006 Detroit Auto Show with lines that paid homage to the original 1967 coupé and while its styling has been roundly praised, it does come at a bit of a compromise to practicality. The low roofline and high door sills give it a great “chopped” look but my head didn’t like bouncing off the hood lining over speed humps and I tired of peering through the pillbox-style windows after a while. camaro3 Likewise, rear vision is inhibited by the windows and high hipline which makes a reverse camera essential. Thankfully it has this, however it would have been nice to have the passenger’s door mirror dip when reverse is selected like on so many other cars, so you can see how close you are to kerbing those killer alloy rims. Other tiny extras missing from what is virtually standard on all 2014-model cars now was keyless start which is an extra-cost option and the lack of climate control air-con that was an oversight in 2006 so really shouldn’t have been overlooked again, especially at this price. But hey, there’s also a valid argument which suggests that if you complain about these sorts of trivialities, then perhaps a Chev Camaro ZL1 is not for you anyway. Personally, it didn’t bother me because no one’s going to ask you that at the bar, they just want to know the numbers.