2019 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe On The Road And The Track

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Chevrolet Camaro - Ron Fellows Driving Experience

It isn’t often that we are able to take the cars that the manufacturers loan to us to review, to a race track. In fact, it is one of the few things we are typically forbidden from doing while we are testing the cars. But in this case, General Motors Canada not only provided us with a 4 cylinder 2019 Camaro Coupe 1LT to drive on the road, we were also able to participate in the Ron Fellows Driving Experience in the same car, on a race track. This gave us the opportunity to experience what it would be like if we owned this car and participated in the occasional track day. And after living with this tough looking Camaro coupe for a week, and taking it out on the track, we think this might be one of the best Camaros to live with on a daily basis.

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.

The 4-cylinder Camaro is Chevrolet’s most affordable performance car. Our 1LT coupe offered a lot of street presence for its relatively modest sub $30,000 base price. It was equipped with the optional $5,195 1LE Track Performance Package and $495 Riverside Blue Metallic paint. It really looked the part of a road and TrackWorthy intimidator.

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE Pricing

1LE Track Performance Package
• $5,195
• 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

On The Road
We really enjoyed our time with the Camaro Coupe. Outward visibility is somewhat hampered due to its inherent design but the more time you spend in it, the more you get used to it, and drive accordingly (lots of blind spot checks with every lane change, etc.). The backup camera is an absolute necessity, especially when maneuvering in and out of parking spots. We can’t imagine life without it.

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

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.

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

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.

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

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!
Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

2019 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe On The Road And The Track
On The Track
We were fortunate to be able to participate in the Ron Fellows Driving Experience, which is held at one of the greatest race tracks in North American, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, about an hour north-east of Toronto. We were on the main 3.95 km (2.45 mile), 10-turn Grand Prix track, formerly and fondly known as Mosport. The Ron Fellows Driving Experience runs from May to October and was designed by none other than Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and Corvette Hall of Fame inductee, Ron Fellows. Fellows is one of the most successful sports car drivers in Canadian history with class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Ron Fellows Driving Experience

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.

Ron Fellows Driving Experience

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.

Next up was the Camaro SS with its 6.2 litre V8 engine, 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, and a 6-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching. The extra 180 hp over the 1LT was welcomed, but the biggest adjustment for us was trying to get used to the active rev matching. If you have driven manual cars all of your life, and are used to heal and toeing (braking with the left side of your right foot and blipping the throttle with the right side of your right foot on downshifts), handing over that responsibility to the rev matching gremlins takes some getting used to. Don’t get us wrong, the car’s ability to rev match on downshifts is perfect, gear change after gear change, it just takes some getting used to, allowing the computers to do that job for you.

Ron Fellows Driving Experience

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.

Ron Fellows Driving Experience

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.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe On The Road And The Track
Our Take
Having not spent extended periods of time behind the wheel of Camaros, we came away from our week on the road and day at the track with a whole new level of respect for these cars. The 4 cylinder 1LT with its user friendly 6-speed manual transmission was a pleasure to live with. Yes, the outward visibility (or lack therefore) does take some getting used to, but with lots to blind spot checks and the use of a very helpful backup camera, it’s quite manageable as a daily driver.

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

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.

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe

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.