2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE first drive review: More than a track package


I’m in the base model, on a pencil-straight desert road, and I already love this car.

Even with the V-6 engine you can get in an Impala, the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE has already wormed its way into my heart. The immediate steering response, the feel of the suede-covered steering wheel, and the short throws of the manual gearshift make it clear that the 1LE has the heart of a world-class sports car.

Best of all, the fun hasn’t even started. Track time is yet to come in both the V-6 and V-8 versions of the 1LE.

A pair of track packages

The 1LE package is essentially a track package, but it’s really much more than that. It’s a complete integration of performance parts into the Camaro. It’s part of a “flow down” approach to performance in the Camaro lineup, with top-end ZL1 parts flowing down to the V-8 1LE and SS parts flowing to the V-6 1LE.

The FE3 suspension package from the SS underpins the V-6 1LE. It consists of stiffer dampers, rear cradle mounts, and ball-jointed rear toe links and stabilizer bars. The V-6 1LE also comes with 12.6-inch front and 12.4-in rear Brembo brakes with 4-piston front calipers, a manual locking rear differential, and a dual-mode exhaust system. A set of 20-in Goodyear Eagle F1 ran-flat tires—245/40 front and 275/35 rear—ride on 8.5- and 9.5-in black forged aluminum wheels.

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2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Enlarge Photo

To handle the heat generated by track driving, Chevrolet equips the car with two external oil coolers, an extra capacity engine oil cooler, a transmission cooler, and a rear differential cooler.

On the outside, the V-6 1LE gets a satin black front splitter and rear blade spoiler, a satin black hood wrap, and HID headlights. Inside, Chevrolet adds a suede-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel, a suede-wrapped shift knob, and a short-throw shifter.

All that comes for a very reasonable price of $4,500 on top of a base 1LS model, bringing the total to $32,895.

The V-8 version builds on that equipment. Most notable is the addition of the FE4 suspension, with stiffer tuning and General Motors Company's [NYSE:GM] Magnetic Ride Control adjustable dampers. The tires are massive 285/30R20 front and 305/30R20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer performance treads on 10- and 11-in satin graphite forged aluminum wheels.

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The Brembo brakes have 14.6-in front two-piece rotors, 13.3-in rear rotors, 6-piston front calipers, and 4-piston rear calipers. The limited-slip differential is controlled electronically.

Interior upgrades consist of Recaro front bucket seats and a head-up display. The Recaros are a $1,195 option in the V-6, and Chevrolet's Performance Data Recorder is a $1,300 option for the SS.

Chevrolet charges an additional $2,000 for the upgrade features, making the V-8 version a $6,500 package. Turn your Camaro SS into a 1LE and your starting price will be $44,400.

Street machine

The venue for my 1LE drive is the Nevada desert. The street portion of the drive is a two-parter. On day one we start in Las Vegas in an SS model and head to Pahrump, the home of Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. Day two starts with a V-6 1LE drive, and ends with a few hours of track time in both models.

Both versions of the 1LE get no engine upgrades, and both come only with the 6-speed manual transmission. Still, they are both a bit faster than the standard V-6 and V-8 models they are based on, no doubt because their stickier tires and buttoned down suspensions put the power to the pavement better.


 
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