We learned that the Camaro is very civilized for a blown, 580hp car designed to hang with exotic fare around world-class road courses. Well, at least until the throttle was mashed. The adaptive mufflers gave just the right amount of engine growl at just the right moment with zero drone when cruising down the highway, and the twin-disc clutch was effortless to shift. The frustrating understeer we had experienced in a stock ’10 SS seemed to be only a frustrating memory as the ZL1 felt very balanced and far more neutral. The newfound agility, along with the extra power from the LSA engine, helped make the ZL1 seem much lighter than a 4,000-pound car should be expected to feel. As Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, told us, “We set out to make the Camaro ZL1 a performance car that is great at everything, including road racing, drag racing, and daily commuting. I cannot think of many cars that are capable of running 11-second quarter-mile runs, can set a 7-minute lap at the Nürburgring, and still be comfortable enough to drive to work every day.”
On the dragstrip we were presented with a mix of manual- and automatic-equipped cars. Now, launching a manual-equipped car can be a bit of a challenge, but thanks to the Launch Control, it was a snap. The only Launch Control for the automatic was the gray matter between our ears, but once launched, the shifts were quick, firm, and well timed. Of course, with 30 guys jockeying to drive only four ZL1s, the big problem was hot-lap induced heat soak. This was made even worse by the 94-degree temps and high humidity. Still, it was a great way to get a feel for how the ZL1 performed. Besides, complaining about the weather when given the chance to beat on The General’s newest super Camaro would be like complaining about a slightly overcooked steak on your dinner date with your favorite supermodel.