A Camaro with a 2 litre inline 4-cylinder engine might not be the version most enthusiasts dream of when thinking of the Camaro they would most like to have in their garage. The V6 isn’t likely on that wish list either. When we think of powerful American muscle cars we think of pavement pounding V8’s. In this case, the biggest and baddest Camaro of them all is the ZL1 with its 6.2 litre supercharge V8 that pumps our equal measures of 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
1LE Track Performance Package
• Satin Black hood wrap
• Black front splitter
• Black outside rearview mirrors
• Black rear blade spoiler
• Black 20″ forged-aluminum wheels with 245/40ZR20 front and 275/35ZR20 rear, run-flat, summer-only tires
• Brembo 4-piston front, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
• Performance suspension components (from Camaro SS) including dampers, rear cradle mounts, ball-jointed rear toe links and stabilizer bars
• Heavy-duty cooling including engine oil cooler, dual outboard radiators and rear differential cooler
• Limited-slip differential
• Suede-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob
• RS badging, front grilles and lighting
Our car was capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 5.4 seconds with the manual transmission, and 5.5 seconds when equipped with the optional 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters. More often cars equipped with automatic transmissions can accelerate quicker than those equipped with manuals, but not in this case.
If we had to configure a Camaro that was going to be our daily driver, where we had to cover the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, etc., the 4-cylinder with Direct Injection and Variable Valve Timing isn’t a bad route to go. Its 275 hp at 5600 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 3000-4500 rpm do a decent job of motivating this 3,354 pound car through its 6-speed manual transmission.
Our cars bite didn’t quite match its bark due to the sound emanating from the 2.0 litre turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine. The tailpipe soundtrack was a bit anemic. You really had to get on the gas and get it into the upper rev range to get the most out of it. The sound from the ground pounding V8s in the naturally aspirated SS and supercharged track-focused ZL1 was music to our ears. There is nothing more old-school, muscle car sounding than the whine from a screaming supercharged V8 out on a race track!
The Ron Fellows Driving Experience includes classroom instruction, a product performance presentation, on-track coaching by highly trained and experienced race car drivers, and concludes with a delicious dinner in the world-class Grand Prix Event Centre overlooking the circuit. The program puts drivers behind the wheel of some of General Motors highest performance cars.
We had the opportunity of driving three very different Camaros. First up was our 1LT with its 4 cylinder 275 hp 4 cylinder turbocharged engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. This car was perhaps the most rewarding out on the track. It was the slowest of the trio as it had the least amount of power by a long shot, but when you were able to tie together a clean lap, keeping the car’s momentum flowing and working efficiently with what you have, you really felt like you accomplished something and got the maximum out of the car. For anyone with limited experience on this super-fast high speed track like this one, this is a good car to start off with.
And finally, at the top of the food chain, the Camaro ZL1! With its whining (in a very good way) supercharged 6.2 litre V8 engine with 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque and a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, this car was so fast. It is capable of 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) runs in just 3.5 seconds. With the car in Sport mode and leaving all of the gear changing to the 10-speed auto, it allowed us to keep both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road, and our right foot planted on the accelerator. We could focus on bringing speeds up and our lap times down. The grip this car generates was beyond our expectations. With each lap we were harder on the brakes into each corner and harder on the gas on the corner exit. This car was capable of a lot more than we could throw at it. We were thoroughly impressed with its high levels of grip and performance.
For those with strong stomachs, and a desire to see what these cars are really capable of, participants can ride shotgun with one of the instructors for a flying hot lap around this track. This is one of the fastest race tracks in North America. We have done this before and weren’t interested in doing it again. It is terrifying, but something you should experience at least once in your life. Everything feels so much faster when you experience it from the passenger seat. You have no control over the car and you get the sensation that you are going to crash at every corner. But these race car drivers know exactly what they are doing and from their perspective in the driver’s seat, everything is well under control. It is a much less terrifying experience when you are behind the wheel.
As an added bonus, we were able to see Ron Fellows behind the wheel of his 1986 Players GM Series Camaro IROC-Z, one of the race cars that helped propel Ron to his successful racing career.
Downtown congested bumper to bumper city traffic and tight busy parking lots were not a lot of fun, but out on the open road, rowing it yourself through the gears, this car was a pleasure to live with. The V8’s do take this driving experience up several notches. They sound great and provide impressive performance to match. But if you are looking for a relatively inexpensive entre into the world of front engine, rear wheel drive performance cars, the 2019 Camaro 1LT Coupe should be on your test drive short list.
The first Camaro was built more than half a century ago. It has been in production from 1967 to 2002, then again from 2010 to the present. We hope its current production run doesn’t end anytime soon. We hope Chevrolet are working on the seventh generation Camaro for release in the next few years.