We’ll have to admit it: as much as we dislike the Camaro’s rediculous size and bulk, as well as it’s concept car styling (especially the dashboard), we have to admire its engineering. It gets the worldwide platform with IRS that the Ford Mustang is still missing, it takes full benefit of GM’s engine families, and next spring it gets a 580 HP version of the Cadillac CTS-V supercharged V-8 engine.
And, more importantly, this is a Camaro that is much more than the sum of its parts. Endurance testing on the Nurburgring not only ensures that the car can survive the type of track days the rest of us do, it ensures that it can survive them for years on end as well as the travails of daily driving. We’ve experienced the downside of lousy engineering ourselves with our POS 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra, whose supercharged V-8 might have seemed state-of-the-art in its day but which in reality couldn’t survive more than a few hot laps on-track. Nor could it survive hot highways and stop-and-go driving in the heats of a Texas summer.
Note the details in these videos: the ZL-1 is the first performance car that GM has done that has either zero neutral lift or negative lift. Look at the engineering of the ZL-1 and you see a complete package with close attention to nealy all the big and small details: cooling, braking, handling (missing only excellent seating). Ergnomics are still far worse than a Mustang, and the total weight is far greater, but the sum of the engineering and especially the totality of testing is far more extensive. And, yes, we know the upcoming 2013 Shelby Mustang has been briefly tested on the Nurburgring, but that was the first time a Mustang has ever been tested there and it is in our observation (and in our experience as a former Mustang owner, track driver, and instructor) too little and too late.
Kudos to GM engineering for building and testing the most exceptional Camaro ever. The ZL-1 is the last milestone in the current Camaro; an all-new Camaro is in the early stages of engineering and certainly the lessons learned here will be used there.