Camaro ZL1 To Offer Auto Transmission, Have More Horsepower Than CTS-V

By Carl Malek

Earlier this year, Chevrolet chose the 2011 Chicago Autoshow as the backdrop to unveil the 2012 Camaro ZL1 supercar. Designed as the range-topping model in the Camaro family, the ZL1 was created to take on the best from Ford and Shelby. Despite these initial statements, Chevrolet remained silent on the exact details of the car except for stating that the car would have at least 550 horsepower and a six speed manual gearbox.  However in a statement at an event at the Camaro plant in Oshawa Ontario, Al Oppenheiser, director of concept and vehicle integration for GM’s Performance division, has revealed new information and details about what potential buyers can expect from this potent Camaro.

On the mechanical side, Oppenheiser has confirmed that the 2012 Camaro ZL1 will offer an automatic transmission in addition to its six speed manual gearbox. Initial speculation suggested that the ZL1 would follow the path laid out by the ZR1 Corvette, and be exclusively built with a manual gearbox. However with this revelation from Oppenheiser, it seems Chevrolet is hopeful that the addition of  an automatic gearbox to the car’s spec sheet will help open up the model to a wider range of consumers that may have otherwise been turned away by the lack of such an option.

Addressing the performance aspects of the car, Oppenheiser also revealed that the car would be offered with the same Performance Traction System that first made its debut on the Corvette ZR1. In the Corvette, PTM helps enhance the car’s performance by integrating the launch, traction, and ride controls as well as the cars active handling and selective ride systems. This system is credited with helping the 2012 Corvette ZR1 recently smash its old lap time at the world famous Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany, where it managed to complete the course in 7:19.63.

Lastly, Oppenheiser also revealed that the ZL1’s final horsepower numbers will in fact be higher than the initial estimate of 550 horsepower, and that it would be enough to eclipse the mighty Cadillac CTS-V’s 556 horsepower. Both vehicles utilize the same 6.2  liter supercharged V8, so it will be interesting to see if the ZL1 will have an advantage over the Caddy in terms of raw performance numbers.

Overall Chevrolet’s newest addition to the Camaro family is shaping up to be a formidable contender to the equally potent Shelby GT500, and it will be interesting to see how the car stacks up against the Shelby – and what Shelby may do in response – when it begins production in early 2012.

Author: Carl Malek

Carl Malek is Autosavant’s resident German car fanatic and follower of all things General Motors. Carl first entered the world of automotive journalism as a freelance photographer during his freshman year of college before making the switch to automotive writing several years later. Carl developed an interest in cars at an early age, which helped him overcome the challenges of a learning disability in mathematics. In addition to writing for Autosavant community, Carl also contributes to many car forums and enjoys attending automotive events in the Metro Detroit area with his family. Carl’s message for others with learning disorders is to believe in yourself, be persistent, and face all challenges head on.

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  1. I salute them if they bring a automatic transmission!

    Just wish Ford would offer automatics with stall torque convertors just like they did in the late 60s and 70s!

    Not everyone wants or is able for a stick shift!

  2. Great news article! Good to hear GM is not afraid to offer up the ZL1 with as much hp as they can muster even if it surpasses the already very fast CTS V coupe which I also admire..

  3. Good to hear that it will be available in automatic for those of us not so skilled at driving manuals! I was just reading this on the Johnny Londoff Chevrolet blog and now I’m excited to see it for myself.

  4. I want one. I am curious as to what Chevrolet will do with the Base line Corvette.

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