It's a sign of our ridiculous times that the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 no longer seems ridiculous. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat sees ZL1's 580 hp and raises it 707 hp. Closer to home, the Nürburgring-slaying, real-men-don't-need-air-conditioning Z/28 is now the hottest Camaro.
That said, no one yawns when a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 arrives at the office. We unplug the vacuum lines that control the dual-mode exhaust so as to free every delicious crackle from the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 (normally, the exhaust opens at idle and full throttle but closes under moderate rpm). Then we dump the heavy clutch, effortlessly roasting the 20-inch Goodyears.
Considering how obnoxious the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is, it garners a relatively muted reaction. Sure, car guys nod knowingly as we cruise through downtown Ann Arbor, but it's nothing like the mass euphoria one inspires driving, say, a Corvette Stingray. Eight years and four Transformers films since the fifth-gen Camaro debuted as a concept, folks are perhaps starting to tire of its styling. It probably doesn't help that, due to its unique aerodynamic needs, the ZL1 does not receive the new front fascia that graces other 2014 Camaros.
Oh, well, who needs an audience? We find the nearest highway entrance ramp and roar past 100 mph. The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would be forgiven for wanting only to go in straight lines, because it does that so thrillingly, yet it also handles like a world-class sports car. Camaro engineers couldn't dramatically cut weight -- that'll have to wait until the next generation moves to Cadillac's Alpha platform—but they've figured out how to manage the 4120-lbs. Magnetorheological dampers, standard equipment on the ZL1, deftly control body motions without breaking molars. The electrically assisted steering provides the perfect amount of weight and feedback; BMW could stand to learn from it.
Indeed, the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 displays a certain polish that makes it worth considering even as it ages. Curb appeal and horsepower supremacy can be fleeting—enjoy the moment, Hellcat—but the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 possesses another, more durable quality: competence.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
|Engine||6.2-liter supercharged V-8|
|Length x Width x Height||190.6 x 75.5 x 54.2|
|Curb weight||4120 lbs|
|Cargo capacity||11.3 cu ft|
|Fuel Economy||12/18/14 mpg city/hwy/combined|