2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 First Drive

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I have a confession to make. Sitting at the lunch table after thrashing the 2012 Camaro ZL1 on track--unrestricted, an opportunity offered to only a few of us at Firebird International Raceway, home of the Bondurant Racing School--I made a spontaneous association and foolishly blurted it out. I compared the ZL1 to the 2012 Porsche 911.

Specifically, I realized, while mentally re-visualizing the last set of laps, that from turn-in to apex, under fast entry speeds with a fair amount of trail brake, the ZL1 felt, acted, and moved almost exactly like the 2012 911 did under similar circumstances. People around the table looked at me with a mixture of surprise and disbelief, some likely making notes to self that I might, in fact, be slightly soft in the head.

I maintain that it's a fair comparison as framed, but I also understand that it's not something most people will believe is true. It is true, but ultimately, it's also unimportant. Why? Because despite its impressive road-course capacity, that's not what the ZL1 is about, or at least it won't be for 99 percent of its owners.

The drag strip, on the other hand, is the ZL1's natural habitat, and it shows. As nimble as it might be for a 4,180-pound, 580-horsepower supermusclecar, getting the ZL1 to move quickly around a road course is work. Running it down the dragstrip is effortless, in both manual and automatic transmission forms--because it was engineered to be.

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