Quick Spin: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 car test drives chevrolet
2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Click image to enlarge
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Review by Jim Kerr, photos courtesy GM

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2013 Chevrolet Camaro

Rumble, rumble, rumble. There is no mistaking the 2013 Camaro ZL1 as an everyday commuter vehicle. Even before you hit the starter and hear the supercharged LSA V8 engine burble to life, this Camaro stands out from the crowd. While more subtle colours are available, the bright Victory Red paint, blacked out grille and wheels and the carbon-fibre hood with large air extractor vents leave little doubt that this car means business and that business is performance.

The Camaro ZL1 isn’t just a regular Camaro with some fancy trim or a hopped-up engine. It is a complete performance package based on the Camaro platform. With 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) reached in 4 seconds, a quarter mile ET of less than 12 seconds and a top speed that will land you in jail in an eyeblink, this car is the fastest Camaro ever built, surpassing the original special-order aluminum-block ZL1 Camaro built way back in 1969.

There’s something else this Camaro will do better than any previous Camaro – it handles. An independent rear suspension uses asymmetrical half shafts and a limited slip differential to minimize wheel hop on hard acceleration. Sway bars front and rear, special tuned suspension and magnetic ride variable shock damping all help the Camaro turn corners, which was proven with an amazing 7:41.27 lap time of the famous Nürburgring race course in Germany – all this with a production ZL1.

Quick Spin: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 car test drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 car test drives chevrolet 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Click image to enlarge

To accomplish these feats, it starts under the hood, with a 580-horsepower supercharged V8 engine. The LS series of engines has long been proven in everything from pickup trucks to racing Corvettes. The aluminum LSA engine in this Camaro incorporates a liquid-cooled intercooler and supercharger into the air intake to produce instant torque at any speed. Tap the throttle in first gear and the car virtually jumps ahead, but be ready to shift because redline approaches quickly.

The car is available with either a six speed automatic transmission or manual transmission. Launch control is available with either. With launch control activated, stepping on the gas pedal all the way will bring the engine up to about a preset 2,500 rpm and once you release the clutch pedal, the computer will operate the traction and stability control along with the engine to produce maximum acceleration. Sorry manual transmission fans – the automatic is slightly faster, but I still like shifting gears in the six-speed manual. Power output moves to the ground through a stronger driveshaft and a larger 9.9-inch differential with heavy-duty limited slip and rear differential oil cooler that can reduce temperatures in the differential by more than 100-degrees F.