ChevroletSports Cars

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE – Z28 is back! Well, not quite

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

When the fifth generation of Camaro was introduced in 2009, this was the deal- you could settle with V6 in the beginning and respectable 300 hp, or you could ask for something spicier, or the SS model carrying V8 under the hood boosting 432 hp in the best case. If that power was not enough to satisfy you, then there was ZL1 model with again V8, but in its case one that cranks out 580 hp. But what if you are track freak? Surely nearly 600 hp is great stuff, but lateral g is the thing you want there. Then you could go for hard-core track oriented Z28 model introduced in 2013.

Yes, ZL1 gets 70 hp more, thanks to supercharger mainly, but Z28 gets naturally aspirated 7.0-liter monster under its hood, and it is maybe two-tenths slower to 60 mph, but choose any race track in the world, and it will rip apart ZL1 model. Splitters that you can see and some underneath that you can’t, K&N air filter, Brembo Carbon Ceramics Matrix discs, lack of carpeting in some places and other stuff made this thing most brutal Camaro ever delivered.


The current generation was introduced in 2015 and story was similar. Now you could start with I4, which was actually new, but the end was the same, ZL1 supercharged V8 rated at 650 hp.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Again everything was rosy when power is concerned, but we did miss track oriented noncompromising monster until now, as 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE just arrived.


Yes and no. It isn’t quite new Z28, it would be named like that if it was, but it is very close, and since we don’t have proper successor it could be considered as one in the mean time. Let’s say that apart from the engine, this could be new legendary track oriented Camaro. So, what’s with the engine?

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Well, 1LE uses ZL1 supercharged V8 and all of its 650-hp and 650-lb-ft in unchanged form, but Chevy doesn’t want to spoil purely track dedicated stuff so supercharged thing, in this case, doesn’t deserve Z28 moniker, living possibility that new naturally aspirated model arrives in near future as direct successor.


Apart from the engine, everything else is upgraded. Instead of 285 width tires, you’ll get 305s at the front and 325s at the rear, making this widest tires in Camaro history. Instead of magnetorheological shocks, which is one of the greatest things about GM, you’ll end up with even better hard-core DSSV spool-valve dampers, let’s just mention that Red Bull uses it in F1.

Further to everything, 1LE is lighter by 60 pounds and full of aerodynamic bits. You have a black hood, larger grille, below that big black splitter, a huge carbon-fiber wing at the rear, blacked tail lights, all resulting in such a menacing appearance that even true Z28 has to respect that and back up. And yes, as a spiritual successor to Z28 it comes only with the 6-speed manual.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE Video


2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE is not just ZL1 with the bigger wing, but it’s not quite Z28 either. It is something in between. All the good stuff about aerodynamics, suspension, and some other tweaks are executed in the proper Z28 manner, but the engine is not there, and you’ll get all the carpeting and all sound deadeners, no glass is made thinner, and nobody is taking air conditioning from you. This is maybe just a package for ZL1 model, adding a couple of grand more to $63,000 base price, but if you want “big guy” Camaro for the track, until new naturally aspirated and striped Z28 comes, this is your weapon of choice. And did we mention it took whole 3 seconds less than ZL1 around GM’s Milford Proving Grounds?

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Antonio Perluci