2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 first drive
OK, so it's a serious performance car with a surprisingly round set of abilities, a few faults, and an extra dose of horsepower, but what's it like otherwise?
Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to drive the ZL1 on the road just yet, but in our low-speed reconnaissance laps and return trips from the end of the drag strip, we got a bit of an idea. It's mostly standard Camaro SS fare: a firm but not too-stiff ride, comfortable seats, and the famously low canopy that drivers and passengers either love or hate.
The interior is trimmed out in somewhat higher-grade materials and with a slightly different look from the SS, and while it's nice--and certainly on-par with the GT500--it's by no means a luxurious space. Fit and finish are good, but not spectacular; suede elements trade off with cheapish plastic switches. It's clear where almost all of the price of the ZL1 goes: under the hood and under the fenders. We're fine with that.
I still feel a tinge of embarrassment for blurting out the 911 comparison at a table of colleagues and GM engineers, but at the same time, I'm glad I slipped up. The ZL1 is a true driver's car, and regardless of its ultimate pace in comparison with sports cars or supercars in its price
, power, or performance categories, it delivers an experience that, at times, is on par with the very best of them.
The ZL1 is the best production Camaro on Earth--ever--even though it's still ultimately "just" a Camaro. There's no shame in that.
Chevrolet flew us out to Phoenix, fed us, and put us up in a decent hotel so we could bring you this review. As always, we're committed to delivering our own unbiased opinions and interpretations of the cars we drive. A few drinks, a steak, and a bed to crash on aren't going to change that.