In 2009, NASCAR chose the new-for-2010 Camaro to pace the 51st running of the Daytona 500. My friend Scott Settlemire was the Camaro’s brand manager and I was given access to the car before the race. It was rough, loud, uncivilized, and nothing like the Camaros of today. My, how this car has evolved.
Work on the sixth generation Camaro is well underway, and it will probably be based on the alpha platform that can currently be seen in the Cadillac ATS coupe. As the current body style is 5 years old, they have made a few changes to win over new buyers before the latest model is released. The front and rear fascias are more defined with a large grille area for better cooling and one piece tail lamps vis-à-vis the new Stingray. A functional heat extractor hood allows high-pressure hot air to escape from behind the radiator, aiding in cooling and allowing for more front end downforce. Inside, new Recaro buckets are a welcomed upgrade.
Our test model was a 1SS coupe with the storied 1LE package. For Camaro aficionados, the 1LE has always been a hardcore performance package available on V8 powered models. It pushes the SS to the edge of its ability with steamroller 285/35/ZR20 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 tires on all four corners.
(See also: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Features and Specs)
Another great benefit of 1LE is the shorter final drive. With 3.91 gears out back, versus 3.45 on the base model SS, first gear is very short and not needed in daily driving. Another benefit is the 1LE specific transmission. The gear ratios are much closer, which means your RPM doesn’t drop as much when shifting gears. You can easily tell the engineers did their homework on the race track. A unique front splitter and tall rear spoiler round out the package and help keep the tires planted at speed.
Chevrolet offers the SS in two flavors, 1SS and 2SS. The $4,000 price difference includes such options as a full color Heads Up Display, Leather Seats, Console Gauges and the nine speaker Boston Acoustics system. Our car had a suede interior thanks to the 1LE upgrade. These separate packages serve to build up the MSRP in order to fill the price gap between the SS and the ZL1/Z28 supercars.
After a few spirited runs around our test loop, I saw that the clutch action was easy and predictable. With the copious amounts of torque appearing low on the tach, starting in second gear is effortless. If you aren’t in a hurry you can even shift 2-4-6 without lugging the engine.
The steering was quick and light, and cockpit noise was greatly reduced, even with the exhaust open. Shifts are short and precise, with strong return springs to keep you centered on the 3-4 gates.
Over the past five years Chevrolet has turned coal into diamonds. With the Z28 and ZL1 at the top of the pyramid, the 1LE is the best bargain, especially in 1SS form. If you can’t wait until 2016, order yours now. You won’t be disappointed.
(Image Source: Chevrolet)