2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 first drive review: too fast to be fun Page 2


While the roads between Charlotte and Daytona Beach were blissfully clear of the law, the beast under the Camaro's carbon fiber-scooped hood was happier running at 85 to 90 mph than 75. The speed crept up steadily, so that every few minutes I'd have to back off the gas and bring the speedo back to the reasonable range.

But the performance is even more dramatic when passing, when the speeds climb even faster. By the program's lunch stop, I realized my right foot wasn't disciplined enough to maintain speed, and switched to cruise control, blasphemy be damned.

Not your typical 10-speed

This is, of course, high praise for the ZL1's standard adaptive suspension. This Camaro does 90 the way most cars do 65, and it's because of GM's work on the magnetic dampers and in the wind tunnel. Be it on freeways or country lanes, the ZL1's suspension does a great job of smoothing out the road and tracking straight and true. Paired with super-supportive Recaro-branded seats, the ZL1 gobbled up the 500-mile drive far easier than expected.

It's not quiet, though. There's some engine drone, but the bigger issue is tire noise. While the ZL1's suspension smothered Interstate 95's bumps and imperfections, the wide, sticky Goodyears transmitted every little sound into the cabin. My back survived the ZL1, but my ears are still recovering.

While I started my day with a manual-transmission convertible, the mandated lunch break in scenic Beaufort, South Carolina gave me the chance to snag an auto-equipped coupe. Not only did the coupe help keep the southern sun from burning my precious, little neck, it gave me the chance to check out GM's new 10-speed automatic.

A rare act of cooperation between the General and arch-rival Ford, the new 10-speed made a name for itself first in the F-150 Raptor and will join the rest of the light-duty F-Series lineup, as well as the Mustang, later this year. The Camaro is the first GM vehicle to get the impressive new transmission.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Enlarge Photo

Before you ask, no, going to the two-pedal arrangement doesn't just sate the 6.2-liter V-8's appetite for speed—if anything, the auto feels faster. Despite four extra gears, the new GM/Ford collaboration is far quicker at swapping cogs than a human, delivering upshifts that are smooth and remarkably like a double-clutch in speed, whether in full auto or manual mode. While using the 10-speed's manual mode does up the involvement, the transmission is best left to its own devices, because the clever computers do a good job picking the right gear for the occasion.

Complaints? Manual-mode downshifts could be quicker. The transmission also didn't feel too willing to lose multiple cogs at a time in manual mode. I wish there was a more drama to the upshifts, too–a Jaguar F-Type or Porsche 911 barks and snorts with every wide-open-throttle upshift in manual mode. The only thing that happens in the ZL1 is a near-seamless change in tone as the engine speed drops.


 
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