Recently I had the opportunity to test drive a few cars. One of them being a car that I wanted to test drive the first time I saw a Motor Trend feature a story on it…the Camaro ZL1. I’ve never had the desire to own a Camaro but have had the chance to drive a number of them over the years…however none of them came even close to the ZL1. The specific car I drove was a 2013 Camaro ZL1 which someone had also purchased carbon ceramic brakes for.
First off for those of you not familiar with sports cars…you sit “IN” them not “ON” them, meaning the seating position, the height of the vehicle, and the over all feel of being in a sports car makes it feel like you are a part of the vehicle…”One with the car”. Now in the end this wasn’t a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugati, Konegsigg, McLaren, Porsche or insert hyper/super car name here. These cars are designed with the idea that you become part of the car so your actions become the cars actions…this wasn’t that extreme…however this was unlike any American Muscle car I have ever driven.
Getting in the car you notice the seats and how they conform to your body, like a nice leather butt hug. You then proceed to start the car and the monster comes to life. RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE. I’m at heart a sound person so the sound of the massive 6.2L Supercharged V8, the same LSA General Motors engine pulled from the Cadillac CTS-V, coming to life is something akin to a brown-note for me. Thankfully it wasn’t actually a brown-note so I could continue to experience in the car. The particular car I drove was a 6 speed manual transmission which I was very in favor of. You have the option of purchasing the 7 speed shiftable automatic, but I was in an American Muscle car so…faster shifts or not I want the manual.
The next thing you notice as you are trying to figure out what everything on the dash means is the fact that when you look out the window you actually see a HUD (heads up display) giving you rpm and speed. So you don’t actually have to look down at the dash to remember what speed you were going as when the nice officer asks later on in your adventure because you are almost looking through the windshield so you will almost always be looking at your speed…convenient and cool. Just in front of the shifter is a series of analog displays which show you oil temperature and pressure, battery voltage, and my favorite, Supercharged Boost.
Enough about what it looks like, what does it drive like?!! Well sit right there little missy and I’ll tell ya’. The ZL1 has a couple modes for the suspension. Because the suspension is magnetically adjustable, meaning you can go from a soft nice feel to track-stiffened in a tenth of a second because of the miracle of ferrofluid (A fluid with the ability to change viscosity or thickness depending on the amount of electrical current you pass through it). I opted for “sport” mode, which is the stiffer of the suspension settings, and off we went. In a straight line this car is working hard to keep you in control and it does a great job at that. 0-60 times are in the 3.8 second range. I’m not sure the dealer sitting to my right had any idea I would be driving the car like this, but I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity and every time I looked at him he was smiling, which I took as KEEP GOING!!! Third gear in this car is addictive. The supercharger is whining like a cat stuck under the hood and the back tires are trying to switch places with you up front. SO FAST! Next up…I couldn’t get the picture of the huge 6 piston brakes out of my head…so it was time to stop…hard. Wow this car stops…from 60mph to 0mph in 110ft to be exact. My eyeballs were trying to exit my cranium. I have no idea what the dealer was saying at this point because it took all my concentration not to scream a wonderful expletive after stopping that fast.
Stopping and accelerating is so much fun in this car, however what this car is known for is cornering, part of the miracle of the magnetic ride control but alas the only thing I didn’t get a real chance to try was the cornering. You can check out motortrend or road&track or any of the other magazine articles on how amazing the cornering is on this car. I can say I did the fastest controlled U-turn I’ve ever done in any vehicle and it was a blast, many smiles were had.
Last but not least, when you are driving a car with 580hp and 556lb-ft of torque you HAVE to do a burnout. So on the way back to the dealer, with the young dealer to my right I stopped at the stop sign right before the dealership and calmly waited for the car on my right to pass in front of me. At this point while the dealer looked over at the car waiting to turn in front of us, I deftly reached over and disengaged the traction control. I then looked at the dealer and said, “Do you mind if I get on it?” His glorious reply, “Nope.” I was done waiting for this 4way purgatory and the woman was doing the typical southern thing of passive aggressively wanting me to go so go I did…go! I’m pretty sure my forward motion wasn’t more than 3 mph, but I swear the speedometer read at least 100mph. That poor woman had no idea she was going to witness a rear tire burning like that, but hopefully she saw the joker-like smile on my face as we slowly made our way through the intersection.
The test drive had to come to a close, because sadly, like many lower-middle class Americans, I cannot pony up the $50-60k required to own that level of muscle…but one day…one day.
Can I get muscle like that at the Y?