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Chevy's Hottest Camaro -- 2012 ZL1 Coupe

By Arv Voss, July 28th, 2012

What could possibly be more fun than tooling around in a hot Chevy Camaro sprayed Inferno Orange? How about cruising in Chevrolet's newest and hottest Camaro -- the 2012 ZL1 Coupe?

Under the right atmospheric conditions, and with the right driver behind the wheel, this newest hot rod Camaro is legitimately an 11-second car in the standing quarter mile. The ZL1 is capable of rocketing from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.9 seconds, and can reach a top speed of 184 mph. That equals supercar levels of performance my friends, right off the showroom floor, with absolutely no modifications for $54,995. This showroom stock racer comes with a host of features such as Performance Traction Management and Magnetic Ride suspension and big, 19-inch staggered standard alloy wheels (20-inchers are optionally available).

My test 2012 Camaro was sprayed a hot Inferno Orange metallic that changed hues with varying light conditions, complemented by a Charcoal-toned suede and leather interior accented by red double stitching and satin nickel finished trim pieces and bezels.

The real beauty of the ZL1 Camaro is that is deals out Corvette level power and performance with drag strip or road course capability out of the box, while also delivering a totally civilized boulevard cruiser ride quality. It also costs less than a base Corvette and can technically carry two additional passengers, provided that they're small in stature.

The ZL1's heart is an LSA 6.2-liter supercharged OHV V8 engine, rated at 580 horsepower and 556 lb.-ft. of torque, which makes it the most-powerful production Camaro ever produced. The ZL1 also comes with a standard dual-mode exhaust system, featuring vacuum-actuated valves in the exhaust pipes for a refined exhaust note at low speeds as well as a free-flowing system for peak performance.

Power from the longitudinally mounted front engine reaches the rear wheels through either a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic actually delivers a better 0-60 mph and quicker quarter mile times and higher top speed than the manual transmission.

The ZL1 is the first sports car to feature the third-generation of Magnetic Ride, an advanced suspension system that employs valve-less damping and Magneto-Rheological fluid technology to vary suspension settings to match road and driving conditions. Magnetic Ride Control offers customers the best of both worlds: A ride quality that makes the ZL1 comfortable as a daily driver and incredibly precise body control that makes the ZL1 also enjoyable and capable on the track.

With Performance Traction Management the launch control feature (manual transmission only) modulates engine torque for the best-possible acceleration without excessive wheel spin. When the driver pushes the throttle to the floor PTM holds a predetermined engine speed until the driver pops the clutch. On a road course, the driver can apply full throttle when exiting a corner and Performance Traction Management automatically manages acceleration dynamics to maximize exit speed based on available traction.

The Camaro ZL1's interior features standard leather seating surfaces with suede microfiber inserts and heated, powered-adjustable front seats. Standard technologies include a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system; USB and Bluetooth connectivity; and rear-park assist with a rear-view camera display integrated in the center rear-view mirror.

Specifications

Base price $54,095 (as tested: $56,095)
Curb weight 4,120 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Epa mileage rating 16 mpg city, 19 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 19 gal.
Horsepower (net) 580 at 6100 rpm
Motor type OHV supercharged V-8 w/SFI
Overall length 190.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 556 at 3800 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD midsize coupe
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