Skip to main content

The Camaro ZL1 is the most powerful new muscle car with 580hp/556tq

Since we first learned that the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would feature the same supercharged LSA V8 found in the Cadillac V-Series lineup, there have been speculations as to how much power this new super-Camaro would offer but today, GM has announced that the ZL1 officially makes 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque – making it the most powerful Camaro in the model’s history.

The 6.2L supercharged LSA V8 in the Cadillac CTS-V sedan, coupe and wagon offers 556 horsepower and 551lb-ft of torque so many expected that the 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 would offer at least that, while still making sure that there is a healthy gap between the Camaro and the 638 horsepower Corvette ZR1. The extra power from the LSA used in the 2012 ZL1 comes from GM adding a high flow air filter system with dual inlet paths and improved airflow through the supercharger housing, all allowing the ZL1 LSA to breathe more easily. Next, GM fitted the ZL1 with an intercooler that is more efficient that the one used in the Cadillac versions of the same engine and an electric power steering system is installed in the Camaro to suck less power from the engine than a traditional power steering system that relies on power from the engine’s serpentine belt system. The result of all of these tweaks to the LSA is a Camaro that packs 580 horsepower, making it the most powerful Camaro GM has ever sold to the public and making it the most powerful muscle car on the market with 30 more horsepower and 46 more lb-ft of torque than the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

The 2012 Camaro ZL1 will come with the option of either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic transmission, unlike the Shelby GT500 that offers just a manual transmission. Each of the available 6-speed transmissions offered in the ZL1 are based on existing transmissions used in non-ZL1 Camaros but these special units, labeled the Tremec TR-6060 “MG9” and the Hydra-Matic 6L90, have been modified to accept the huge power output of the new super Camaro. The automatic transmission in the ZL1 includes three modes, Drive, Sport and Manual which offer varying levels of performance with the Drive mode focusing more on fuel economy and a smooth driving experience while Sport increases shift speed and the manual mode offers the driver full control of the shifts.

The fact that the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is the most powerful Camaro of all time and the most powerful muscle car of the modern era is incredibly impressive but GM didn’t stop there. The ZL1 is equipped with the 3rd generation of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) which is also featured in the Cadillac V-Series (and the Corvette ZR1/Z06), which should allow the 2012 ZL1 to be the best handling Camaro of all time as well as being the best handling car in the modern muscle car segment, although a head to head battle with the incredible Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca may be in order before GM can stake that claim. This system has allowed the Corvette ZR1 to (temporarily) claim the production car record at the Nürburgring and the Corvette Z06 to set a new best time for that trimline at “the Ring” so to say that this system is well-proven is a vast understatement. The advantage of MRC 3.0 is that it includes an enhanced Performance Traction Management system that will improve the launch abilities of the Camaro ZL1 on both the road course and the drag strip – making the ZL1 the ultimate muscle car for active performance enthusiasts of all kinds.

The only key information that General Motors has not yet offered is the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 price. You have to expect that it will cost a fair deal more than a fully loaded Camaro SS (~$43k) but it should still be less expensive than the Corvette Z06, which starts at $74,375. Considering that the ZL1 uses a similar engine, transmission and ride control system as the Cadillac CTS-V models which are all priced at $63,660 – perhaps the Camaro will be priced in that range but you have to wonder if the more powerful but less luxurious Camaro ZL1 will be priced slightly lower than the premium Cadillac models. The ZL1’s top competition will be the Shelby Mustang GT500 which when loaded up, costs around $58,000 so GM may very well be able to justify charging upwards of $60k for the best-handling and most powerful Chevrolet Camaro ever built for public consumption.

Check out the gallery on the right for a closer look at the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and check out the video below for a look at the ZL1 in action on the GM test track!

Other GM News:
Camaro beats the Mustang, Challenger and 370 in August 2011
General Motors shows strong growth in August, leads in sales
General Motors retains ex-Vice Chairman Bob Lutz as advisor
The Camaro bests Mustang in 2010 annual sales
The Chevrolet Volt reaching new areas, attracting new consumers
The 2012 Buick Verano priced starting at $23,470