2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 First Drive Page 4

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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.

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