After unveiling a ferocious new 2017 Camaro ZL1 coupe last week, Chevrolet followed up by pulling the wraps off a drop-top convertible version at the 2016 New York Auto Show.
The heart of the new-for-2017 ZL1 is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that is estimated to produce 640 horsepower. That’s 60 more than the previous-generation ZL1’s 580-hp rating, in a car that weighs about 200 pounds less, according to Chevrolet. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual with active rev matching or an all-new 10-speed automatic. (A more-mainstream version of the 10-speed automatic will begin showing up in other GM models in the near future.)
Chassis features include 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels on meaty 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, along with Brembo-brand brakes with six-piston monobloc front calipers and 15.35-inch two-piece front rotors.
A Driver mode selector that alters powertrain and suspension calibrations, GM’s Magnetic Ride suspension, and dual-mode exhaust are standard. The interior features standard Recaro sport seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and synthetic suede upholstery on the steering-wheel rim and shift knob. Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder, which can record track-lap video with a full array of real-time telemetry data for later playback and analysis, is optional.
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The Camaro ZL1’s unique bodywork components were designed with high-speed aerodynamics and cooling during aggressive track driving in mind. The unique hood has a carbon-fiber inset with a heat extractor to vent hot air from the engine compartment. The larger front splitter, unique rocker panels, wing-style rear spoiler, and widened front fenders were all engineered to improve high-speed stability.
In terms of their basic platform and high-performance hardware, the ZL1 coupe and convertible are virtually identical. Chevrolet says that the new Camaro’s rigid, modular body architecture was designed from the start to handle an ultra-high—performance convertible version, so the ZL1 convertible required only minor structural differences.
The Camaro ZL1 is slated to go on sale in late 2016, with the convertible set to follow in early 2017.
The new-for-2016 Camaro managed to be better than its predecessor in pretty much every way (except, perhaps, visibility out of the low-slung roofline). These new ZL1s seem poised to up the ante over the 2012-2015 Camaro ZL1 in a similar fashion, and their performance will likely blur the lines between muscle car and supercar. They’ll certainly be pricey for a Camaro, but we’re confident that they’ll also be bargains once you factor in the world-class performance and drivability.