Torque News recently had an opportunity to drive the amazing new Camaro ZL 1 on and off the racetrack. Purely by coincidence, our tester then drove a four-door Camaro wagon. Before you fire off letters demanding a retraction, let us build our case.
The Camaro ZL 1 is very much a Camaro. Unlike certain Corvettes that GM builds which merely look a lot like the base models, but are in fact hand-built supercars, the ZL 1 is made from the same bones as the V6 or SS Camaro. It is simply lathered with every single go-fast part available from the GM parts bin, then lovingly tuned by gnomes kept in the Chevy basement for just such a purpose. The result is a rocket ship that can pull a G in all directions - down, forward, sideways and when braking. No part of the Camaro that impacts performance is left untouched. The engine is a V8 of course, but it a supercharged V8 with 580 horsepower. Say that slowly and let your mouth enjoy the saying. Five hundred and eighty horsepower. The shocks are cuckoo. While the Corvette security guard was asleep the Camaro gnomes crept in and stole a bunch of the ‘Vette magnetic super-shocks and reworked them to suit the Camaro. The resulting handling is simply indescribable. Then the gnomes ordered some Brembo brakes that make the Camaro stop like a boat anchor is thrown out the back window. Over and over you can stop this car from triple digits and it just keeps working. No fade, no fuss. Would you like a six speed manual. No problem. Would you prefer a fast shifting automatic with manual control? Done. How about a special interior made from microfiber suede? Yours. When it is all finished the ZL 1 is a track monster and a fabulous daily cruise car. The only little glitch is it looks like Bumblebee from Transformers and children and police officers point at it and shout when they see it.
Not everyone likes to be pointed at and shouted at. For those people GM hides a ZL 1 Camaro inside of a Cadillac CTS-V station wagon. This is exactly what Superman did when he created the Clark Kent persona. Kent is still bulletproof. He can still see through things. His strength is undiminished. However, he knew that if wrapped himself inside a more mundane look he could move around unnoticed. Do the businessman’s clothes sort of feel a bit binding? Sure they do, but that is the price one pays for anonymity.
Driving the CTS-V Wagon after stepping out of the Camaro is still thrilling. In fact, with its slightly smaller tires, a bit more rear weight, and some differences in the chassis, the CTS-V Wagon is even a bit more of a thrill. You still have the same engine, same transmission, limited slip Diff., special brakes and go-fast tires, but the suit is just a little more restrictive. It feels like it wants to flex its muscles and tear through the suit coat. One difference between the two cars is the sound. The CTS-V Wagon still sounds great under full throttle, but either there is more sound deadening material or somewhat different exhaust, or both. The car is a little less extreme in terms of roaring like a NASCAR racer. This is again not at all a bad thing if one is trying to keep a low profile.
The next time you see a CTS-V Wagon or Camaro ZL 1 try not to point at it and shout "Look, it's a bird, it's plane..."