Quicker Than Stick: Chevy's ZL1 1LE Camaro Now Available With Automatic Transmission

Jeff Koch Feb 07 2019


2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Photo courtesy Chevrolet.Paddling still works!

Paddling still works!

Chevy’s top Camaro–the ZL1 1LE–will offer an optional paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic transmission starting late this month.

The division is hoping this will be a win for the Camaro, which has seen sales slide annually since its 2015 redesign; Chevrolet claims that 80 percent of all Camaro sales are automatic. Other comparable high-performance models from Detroit makers, like the Dodge Demon and Ford’s upcoming Shelby GT500, are also automatic-only propositions.

For those whose hearts have sunk at the idea of an automatic high-performance Camaro, consider two things. First, it’s an option: It will cost an additional $1,595, on top of the $7,500 ZL1 1LE package. A six-speed manual will still be the default transmission choice. Also, Chevy claims that the automatic offers a half-second improvement over the six-speed stick around its 2.9-mile Milford, Michigan, course. That’s right, the automatic is said to be faster on track. On longer tracks, like the Nürburgring’s 12.9-mile Nordschleife, the automatic Chevy should easily best the 7:16:04 set by a six-speed ZL1 1LE in the summer of 2017.

The ZL1 1LE more than just an engine package, although its 650-horsepower LT4 V-8 engine plays a significant part. But the ZL1 1LE sports a carbon-fiber rear wing, plus air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia to help it stick. Adjustable suspension includes Multimatic DSSV® (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers front and rear, with camber plates for completely adjustable front-end height; the rear sway bar offers three-way adjustability. Wider (but smaller-diameter) wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires offer 10 percent more footprint and 3.3 fewer pounds of unsprung weight per corner. And finally, lighter wheels, a thinner-gauge rear window, and a fixed rear seatback contribute to a 60-pound weight savings.


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