: My Thoughts After Tracking the Camaro ZL1 - From a CTS-v Owner's Eyes



garfin
04-02-12, 07:43 PM
I was very privileged this past weekend to spend part of Thursday and Friday at Spring Mountain Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada driving the new Camaro ZL1 and Corvette ZR1 on their 1.5 mi. Radical Track, courtesy of GM and the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School.

I know there have been a few threads on this board questioning/speculating about comparisons between our V and the ZL1, so I thought I’d take a few moments and offer up my thoughts and impressions…

The car is an absolute blast to drive! I actually felt more at home in the ZL1 and enjoyed driving it more than the ZR1! Certainly, I felt the shifter in the ZL1 had a more positive, direct feel.
I was able to easily induce understeer going into turns, but that was as a result of my trying to see how far I could push it on entry before the nannies cut in. Not as much understeer as I thought, however... It was hard for me to induce oversteer on exit or entry - simply because I only got up to position 4 on the PTM and the computer still would not allow me to kick the ass end out on exit! Position 4 does allow for more of a "punch" though, when you boot it! I didn't get to 5 or turn everything off. (what for?!?)

Depending on the PTM position, it is VERY difficult to get the car out of sorts, so that being what it is, allows you to explore the limits of the car in a safe and gradual manner. Kudos to GM for including this amazing feature on a car at this price point!!

Interestingly enough, I found that it was easy to lose my focus on driving the track, since I did not have to worry about pushing the car so much that I'd put the wheels off! Not used to having that luxury! Definitely a great package!

The cars were in use all morning with perhaps a 5-10 min break every 15-20 min. while we swapped drivers. I didn't look at any temps, but there were no issues whatsoever that came up on the DIC on any of the cars during our sessions, which lasted until about 12:30 PM. No braking issues and nothing overheated. This is a testament as to how rugged the car is.

If I have any criticism at all, I'd like to be able to sit higher in the car while wearing a helmet – there’s a bit more headroom in our V’s and I felt that I had to compromise my driving position somewhat by sitting lower than what I would term ideal.

As well, given the handling ability of the car, there is lots of room for improvement in the level of support provided by the seats. My right knee kept shutting off the A/C on turns. I guess I’m spoiled by our Recaros.

Each session was a workout for me because I had to work not only at driving the car, but keeping myself in a reasonable seating position. Again, if had the Recaro seats, I'd be OK with that and the car would be easier to drive on the track.

Otherwise, I don't feel that I was able to really explore the upper limits of what this car is capable of, simply because of the fact that given the course, we were not able to hit speeds that one could attain on higher speed courses like VIR or Mosport. The good news is, I feel there are a lot of similarities between this car and my V, which is very easy to drive at 130 -140 mph. This car certainly is a lot more “visceral” than the V and is just a ton of fun! It's like the car is saying back at ya,
"I dare you..."
Gotta love the exhaust note with the flappers from the ‘Vet’s exhaust!

The capper at the end of the morning was that Ron Fellows took a few of us out individually in the ZL1 for some hot laps. That was a real eye-opener for me, as where I felt challenged trying to make the car do what I wanted, Ron was like an artist who played the car like an instrument! Experiencing what he could do with the car demonstrated the car's capabilities in a very clear light, even at the lower speeds on this track! Most impressive!

My overall conclusion is that this is one extremely capable car – and one helluva bargain at the price, given the performance parameters! It ain’t perfect yet, (just allow the seats to hold me in place better!) but I know Chevy ain’t done yet with this one!

Best regards,

Elie

Trapspeed
04-02-12, 08:49 PM
I was very privileged this past weekend to spend part of Thursday and Friday at Spring Mountain Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada driving the new Camaro ZL1 and Corvette ZR1 on their 1.5 mi. Radical Track, courtesy of GM and the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School.

Understatement of the young month. Sounds like a great time. Awesome experience.

baabootoo
04-02-12, 10:57 PM
Nice write up! Did yours/this one have a sunroof also? I miss the extra helmet room with the sunroof.

garfin
04-03-12, 06:30 AM
No sunroof on any of the cars that I drove. Definitely more headroom without the sunroof.

Best regards,

Elie

JFJr
04-03-12, 09:58 AM
Elie, you are indeed lucky! Great to see that the ZL1 has turned out well. Has GM Performance been put back together? We can thank Ford for the competition that made this possible. Development of the ZL1 will insure that the V3 will be as big a success as the V2.

Jud

thebigjimsho
04-03-12, 01:19 PM
Sounds like you had a decent time, haha.

jft69z
04-03-12, 02:00 PM
Glad to hear you had a great time. Did you stay in the condos at SM? I'll be going there in a week and a half for the 3 day ZR1 school and hear the facility is top notch. (I think they use the 2.2 mile track for that school).

garfin
04-03-12, 03:34 PM
Elie, you are indeed lucky! Great to see that the ZL1 has turned out well. Has GM Performance been put back together? We can thank Ford for the competition that made this possible. Development of the ZL1 will insure that the V3 will be as big a success as the V2.

Jud

Definitely an experience of a lifetime! GM Performance was resurrected after the bailout and was front and center at Woodward in 2010 with a couple of Vs on display under the GM Performance banner. I'm getting the feeling however that the performance aspect is going to focus more on the individual division branding rather than under a general corporate banner (i.e. Chevrolet Performance as opposed to GM Performance) There's a reason why the little GM "chiclets" on the side of the cars were dropped a couple of years ago...
'


Glad to hear you had a great time. Did you stay in the condos at SM? I'll be going there in a week and a half for the 3 day ZR1 school and hear the facility is top notch. (I think they use the 2.2 mile track for that school).

Cool! You'll love the experience! Wish we could have had a bit more time there for sure. Just a great facility in a beautiful setting. Yes, we stayed in the condos, which are very nice. I was in Building C on the 2nd floor and my room had a balcony looking out onto the track! Pretty incredible to sit out there and watch the people who are taking the school go blasting by in the ZR1s! Gotta love that dual-mode exhaust!
We lapped on the 1.5 mi. "Radical" track, and from what I gathered, there are 5 or 6 different configurations there. I think the 2.2 mi. course has a pretty decent straightaway as well.
Everything is top notch there and the people are great - especially the instructors. Each car is equipped with a 2-way radio, but they will tell you not to pick it up unless there is a very good reason to do so! LOL!
The clubhouse is great and the food is decent as well. Great hanging out after dinner around the firepit with everybody! Have fun!

Best regards,

Elie

dvandentop
04-04-12, 12:39 AM
kick ass would be an awesome experience

garfin
04-05-12, 07:24 AM
I hate it when my knee keeps shutting off the A/C in turns while hotlapping. Maybe
easier to just leave it off next time?

Yes, that would be my inclination as well. However, the school requires windows to be closed when lapping and after all, it was well into the 80's that day... and under the circumstances, the instructors recommended the A/C be turned on.

Best regards,

Elie

boycer11
04-06-12, 10:53 AM
So of the ZL1, ZR1, and ctsv, which is your favorite? I was leaning towads a ctsv first because I am in midwest but liked the idea a a ZR1 and a beater for bad weather. I also need something that fits golf clubs and the trunk opening on the ZL1 sure is small.

garfin
04-06-12, 01:11 PM
So of the ZL1, ZR1, and ctsv, which is your favorite? I was leaning towads a ctsv first because I am in midwest but liked the idea a a ZR1 and a beater for bad weather. I also need something that fits golf clubs and the trunk opening on the ZL1 sure is small.

You can get a couple of golf bags into the ZL1, even though the opening looks small. The back seat also folds down...

For me, the CTS-V still is my fav, simply because of its versatility, plus its combination of comfort, luxury and performance. I'm happy to drive it on an everyday basis. If you're looking for more of a "hardcore" sports car though, the V may be too sedate. The Chevys are definitely more visceral and offer greater sensory input. On the other hand, the V works the best of the 3 as a daily driver. No problems in the winter either with the right tires. I'd rather have 1 really great car and drive it all year round. I've spent my share of time owning more hardcore vehicles and keeping a beater at the same time.

Best regards,

Elie

boycer11
04-06-12, 02:16 PM
You can get a couple of golf bags into the ZL1, even though the opening looks small. The back seat also folds down...

For me, the CTS-V still is my fav, simply because of its versatility, plus its combination of comfort, luxury and performance. I'm happy to drive it on an everyday basis. If you're looking for more of a "hardcore" sports car though, the V may be too sedate. The Chevys are definitely more visceral and offer greater sensory input. On the other hand, the V works the best of the 3 as a daily driver. No problems in the winter either with the right tires. I'd rather have 1 really great car and drive it all year round. I've spent my share of time owning more hardcore vehicles and keeping a beater at the same time.

Best regards,

Elie

Elie, thanks for the information. I'm shocked that you could fit two golf bags back their on the ZL1, interesting. Muy wife prefers the CTSV, course I really dont need 4 seats. I will try to drive all 3 before making a decision. This weekend drove my parents corvette grand sport A6 conv, 1999 Pontiac Firehawk 334 hp, 6 sp hurst, w 373s, slp exhaust, and 08 sierra denali. GS cont looked sweet, but the fhawk and denaili sounded better and seemed to have more punch when lightly getting on the throttle. Was surprised by this, maybe the exhaust noise. course denaili has over 400hp. Corvette only had about 1000 miles, so I didnt get on it real hard. Not sure what I will get when.the time comes. .

BWhite58
04-07-12, 10:52 AM
Has the ZL1 been released for sale ?

garfin
04-07-12, 11:42 AM
Has the ZL1 been released for sale ?

First deliveries were this past week...

Best regards,

Elie

Cadillac Cust Svc
04-09-12, 11:06 AM
Thanks for starting this thread, Elie! Glad you had a great time driving the new models and happy you shared your experience. :) Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Katie
Cadillac Customer Service

Chrispy
04-10-12, 08:37 AM
Great review Elie! Can you really notice the weight difference? How was overall balance between the V And the ZL1?

Suspension wise were the new gen shocks a big improvement over the current gen in the V?

garfin
04-10-12, 03:17 PM
Great review Elie! Can you really notice the weight difference? How was overall balance between the V And the ZL1?

Suspension wise were the new gen shocks a big improvement over the current gen in the V?

Chris,

If you're talking about being able to feel the weight difference between the ZL1 and the CTS-V - no, I could not feel the difference. They're both heavy vehicles and you can feel the weight. That being said, it is absolutely astounding that both cars can be made to handle as well as they do! Perhaps with more seat time in the ZL1 I might be able to notice a difference. They are both very, very responsive and capable cars.
On the balance comparison, my gut says that the ZL1 might be a more "track-tuned" vehicle and a bit lighter on its feet, but again, I have to base this on my experience with the ZL1 being at lower limits than I've been able to explore with the V.

As far as the next gen magnaride is concerned, I must admit that I don't believe that I drove the ZL1 with the shocks in "tour" mode. Even then, I would not describe the ZL1s ride as harsh. The ZL1s ride felt very similar to what the V feels like in Sport Mode.

Overall, given my experience and priorities, I'd prefer driving the V on the track because of the seats (Recaros), headroom and visibility, which IMHO are superior to the Camaro. The ZL1 may indeed be capable of putting up faster lap times and have more of a track orientation, what with the PTM, ultra-sticky tires, standard diff cooler etc. But my feeling is there is more to enjoying a day at the track than just being able to go faster than the other guy.

Best regards,

Elie

JimmyH
04-10-12, 09:43 PM
I am glad to hear you say positive things about the ZL1. I have been less than fully satisfied with the SS. It understeers heavily on the Pzero, it's a pig on allseason tires. It is well planted, and it takes alot to get it loose, but it still doesn't have that magical feeling I got from my 05V. I think the steering is a big part of it, and from what I understand, the 2012 SS has the same steering improvements as the ZL1. I wish I would have waited. Better steering (not to mention the FE4) would be welcome. But it does have a more comfortable ride, and far more comfortable seats than my 05V. Any impressions on the ZL1's ride quality?

garfin
04-11-12, 06:55 AM
I am glad to hear you say positive things about the ZL1. I have been less than fully satisfied with the SS. It understeers heavily on the Pzero, it's a pig on allseason tires. It is well planted, and it takes alot to get it loose, but it still doesn't have that magical feeling I got from my 05V. I think the steering is a big part of it, and from what I understand, the 2012 SS has the same steering improvements as the ZL1. I wish I would have waited. Better steering (not to mention the FE4) would be welcome. But it does have a more comfortable ride, and far more comfortable seats than my 05V. Any impressions on the ZL1's ride quality?


Yeah, the ZL1 is certainly a step up from the SS in terms of handling. Definitely less understeer and a lot more difficult to get the car out of sorts. The 2013 SS will get the ZL1's electric steering and although I did not have the opportunity to drive the ZL1 on public roads, the did feel similar to the V's on the track. Lots of versatility too with the PTM/shock settings.
I still think there's lots of room for improvement in the ZL1's seats, especially when compared to our Recaros!

Best regards,

Elie

JimmyH
04-11-12, 04:31 PM
I thought I read all 2012 SS will get the ZL1 steering and a few other things. It's not until 2013?

I really like the seats in my SS. They are not very supportive, laterally. But they are very comfortable on long drives. This is the first car I have owned that I can drive for over an hour without shifting in my seat at all.

garfin
04-11-12, 04:57 PM
I thought I read all 2012 SS will get the ZL1 steering and a few other things. It's not until 2013?



Looks like... here's the official list of new stuff for the 2013 MY Camaro... electric steering for the SS is noted with the 4th bullet.

NEW for 2013:
• New ZL1 Convertible model (1EY67)
• (1LE) SS Performance Package includes (RSK) 20″ Black-painted wheels, (RKC) 20″ tires, (GW1) 3.91 axle ratio,
(FE6) suspension, and Black hood wrap (requires manual transmission)
• (NPP) Dual mode exhaust available on SS models equipped with manual transmission
• (NV9) Electric power steering standard on all SS models
• (UFU) Chevrolet MyLink1 Color Touch radio with 7″ diagonal color touchscreen display includes Bluetooth streaming
audio; hands-free smartphone integration; Pandora and Stitcher smartphone compatible; voicea-ctivated technology
– Standard on all LT, SS and ZL1 models
– (USR) USB port and (KTB) PDIM now standard on 1LT and 1SS models
– Rear camera on equipped models now projected in touchscreen display
• (UHQ) Chevrolet MyLink Color Touch radio with 7” diagonal color touchscreen display and all the features of (UFU)
plus GPS Navigation option on all LT, SS and ZL1 models
• (GXH) Blue Ray Metallic exterior color
• (BRH) Mojave leather interior
• (DBX) Frameless, Auto-dimming inside rearview mirror
• (B34) Floor mats now standard on LS model
• (N34) Leather-wrapped steering wheel and (VY7) leather-wrapped shift knob now standard on 1LT models
• (MX0) Automatic transmission on 1LT and 1SS models now includes (BTV) remote vehicle starter system
• Windshield wiper stalk changes: replace symbols with words “off,” “int,” “lo” and “hi”
• New wheel design for models equipped with 18” and 20” wheels
– (SGE) 18″ painted aluminum wheels
– (R42) 20″ painted aluminum wheels
– (RUY) 20″ polished aluminum wheels
• New shift knob and automatic Hill Start Assist on all manual transmissions

Best regards,

Elie

Chrispy
04-12-12, 09:29 AM
Thanks Elie great review. :)

jft69z
04-22-12, 04:09 PM
Just got back from Spring Mountain for the 3 day ZR1 school the other day. While there, they were happy to announce that they already have 4 ZL1s in their garage to start up a driving school for them. The bigger news to us here is that they are also adding a CTS-V driving school in the near future with all 3 versions of the car -Coupe, Sedan & Wagon. The place is first class all the way & the skills they teach will all cross over to daily driving.

mother
04-22-12, 06:36 PM
I have been less than fully satisfied with the SS. It understeers heavily on the Pzero, it's a pig on allseason tires. It is well planted, and it takes alot to get it loose, but it still doesn't have that magical feeling I got from my 05V. I think the steering is a big part of it, and from what I understand, the 2012 SS has the same steering improvements as the ZL1. I wish I would have waited. Better steering (not to mention the FE4) would be welcome. But it does have a more comfortable ride, and far more comfortable seats than my 05V.

I rented an SS Convertible a few months back. It rode HORRIBLY compared to a current gen V- I mean on a scale of 1 to 10 with the V being a 9, the SS was a 2 for ride comfort.

I did really like the HUD though...