Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chevy Closes the Gap Between Camaro SS and ZL1 with New 1LE, Priced Under $40,000


If there's one thing GM knows to do well, that's to cover as many niches as possible with the same model.
If you take a look at the Camaro's current range, you'll see an evident price and performance gap between the hardcore, 580-horsepower Camaro ZL1 and the tamer 426-horsepower SS.

GM now wants to close that gap the new 2013 Camaro 1LE, which will also offer the company a more direct rival (price-wise) to the Ford Mustang Boss 302.

While there are no changes to the SS' 6.2-liter V8 engine, the 1LE package brings unique gearing, suspension tuning, and tires that are said to help make the Camaro capable of returning more than 1 g of lateral acceleration and a sub-three minute lap time at Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course.

“The Camaro 1LE combines the best elements of the SS and ZL1 to take road-racing performance to a whole new level,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer.

“That the 1LE breaks the three-minute lap at VIR puts it in the upper echelon of performance cars. That it starts under $40,000 makes the Camaro 1LE one of the most affordable, most capable track-day cars offered by any manufacturer," he added.

The 1LE package, which was first introduced in the Camaro's range in 1988, will be offered only on the 1SS and 2SS models with a six-speed manual transmission. In this case, the 6.2-liter LS3 V8 is rated at 426 horsepower (318 kW) and 420 lb-ft of torque (569 Nm).

However, instead of the Camaro SS' Tremec TR6060-M10 transmission, the 1LE features a closer geared Tremec TR6060-MM6 paired with a numerically higher 3.91 final-drive ratio, and like the ZL1, it gets a standard air-to-liquid cooling system for track use.

Chevy's engineers made more changes to the suspension as they replaced the SS model's twin-tube dampers with new monotube rear dampers, and also added a larger, 27-mm solid front stabilizer bar, and 28-mm solid rear stabilizer bar for improved body control, plus a strut tower brace for improved steering feel and response.

Other improvements include higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts, ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts along with the ZL1's high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups.

The 1LE rides on new 20-inch wheels wrapped around the same 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires (front and rear) used on the ZL1.

On the outside, the 2013 Camaro 1LE is distinguished by the matte-black hood, front splitter and rear spoiler, plus the black 10-spoke ZL1-based alloy wheels. Inside, the package adds the ZL1’s flat-bottom steering wheel and short-throw shifter, both trimmed in sueded-microfiber.

Along with the 1LE, Chevrolet also announced some changes to the 2013 Camaro SS that benefits from a new electric power steering system sourced from the ZL1, which GM says provides more feedback, and a more direct steering feel, to the driver.

Also new for 2013 is an optionally available dual-mode exhaust system for the SS V8 models with a six-speed manual and an updated color touch radio with MyLink infotainment system.

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