Surprise! The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will be available with a six-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet had previously said that only a do-it-your-self manual transmission would be offered for the high-power ZL1, but customer demand helped turn the tables.
Chevrolet Camaro spokesman David Caldwell told us that the company had been considering offering the ZL1 with an automatic transmission for some time, and once customer feedback indicated there was a strong interest in such an option, the company made the decision to develop the transmission. Caldwell said “the majority” of Camaros are sold with automatics.
The ZL1’s automatic will be a six-speed unit with manual shift controls. It’s a unique transmission that is designed for the high power and torque loads of the ZL1’s engine, but Caldwell told us the design is a “sister” to the automatics employed by the Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac CTS-V.
We also learned that the Camaro ZL1 will score Performance Traction Management, which debuted on the Corvette ZR1 and can now be optioned on the Corvette Z06. PTM is an extension of traction control that modulates engine torque to maintain maximum grip and acceleration when cornering.
The 2012 Camaro ZL1 bowed at the Chicago auto show earlier this year, with a supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 engine under the hood, and output ratings of 550 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Those could change before the car reaches production, though, as Chevrolet previously said it was still fine-tuning the engine’s performance. The current Camaro SS boats 426 hp and 420 lb-ft from a normally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8.
To keep the ZL1 on the road and out of ditches, it rides on lightweight 20-inch wheels, has upgraded brakes (14.6-inch discs front, 14.4-inch discs rear), and Magnetic Ride Control suspension. The ZL1 wears a chiseled new look thanks to a new front fascia and rear diffuser, and trims weight with a hood made from aluminum and carbon fiber.
Expect the gutsy Camaro ZL1 to go on sale around February 2012.