2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Review

In my book still the ultimate modern-day muscle car

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

‘There’s not a lot of tread left on these rear tyres, is there?’

The man from GM delivering the magnificent white unstoppable force of a Camaro, just shrugs and grins. There is only one response he can give, ‘it’s the ZL1’. Fair enough.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

I remember back to the previous time I drove the zenith of Camaros, in fact I don’t have to remember hard, even though it was about a year and half ago. The experience etched itself onto my memory like a line of thick rubber scribed onto a pristine piece of tarmac – and you can partake in the recounting of those initial memories and thoughts by clicking here for a comprehensive review.

There wasn’t much left of the black stuff on the back boots of that car either, especially not by the time I had finished with it.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

Two minutes behind the wheel of this white wonder and the reason for such wasteful disdain for the costly Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres becomes easily apparent and can be described thus: 580bhp and 556lb ft of torque. ‘Nuff said, methinks.

Stability control can go fish

What of the sophisticated electronic stability and traction systems – five modes in fact? Well they can all go fish, they mean nothing in the face of this avalanche of awesomeness.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

And it is truly wasteful avalanche indeed. Particularly on my part. This new-for-2014 Camaro ZL1 is actually nothing of the sort. If you read my review of the latest Camaro SS, you’ll find that in addition to the restyled front and rear, there’s been a fair few improvements to make it the best version of the ‘regular’ Camaros yet.

Why fix what ain’t broke?

The latest ZL1 doesn’t even get the new ‘face’. Turns out the engineering changes required to make it work would have been unfeasibly costly – the main issue is probably cooling the colossus 6.2-litre motor shoe-horned into that elongated engine bay.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

What you do get fresh for this year are the new taillights – controversial for some, because they do away with the signature quad-lamp look, but which I quite like – and in line with the rest of the range it gets a spruced up interior complete with the very clever and useful Chevrolet MyLink system as standard.

So cheap, it would be rude not to

Oh and there’s one more thing – it’s now AED15,000 cheaper than when it first launched at just AED230,000. To my knowledge, the only car that equals it for dirhams per bhp is the Ford Focus ST – unsurprisingly the best hot hatch you can currently buy.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

I wanna just linger on this point – 580bhp of good old-fashioned Detroit muscle for the price of the range-topping Lexus IS350 F-Sport Platinum with a 312bhp V6. Nice car, and certainly in no way competitive to the shock-and-awe specialist you see before you, but still, puts it into context doesn’t it?

There is no point skipping ahead to the conclusion, I’ll tell you right now. I love this car, and I’d have one in a heartbeat. Two days with the car last time and I still remember it vividly. Which is why I called dibs on this latest addition to the GM press fleet, even though I should probably have let Imthishan or Fraser test it this time.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

Going full Gollum

But I get very Gollum-like when it comes to the one muscle car to rule them all. My justification could be that this is a chance to test the automatic version – which on paper is one-tenth of a second quicker to 100kph than the manual (3.9 seconds vs 4.0).

So I’m not really sparing much thought for my colleagues, or for that matter the planet’s depleting resources and the environment in general, as I thump the shifter straight down into M and bury the throttle, gloriously lighting up the rears as all that torque finds a release, and fishtail towards the horizon laughing like The Joker on Speed.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

Do I feel the absence of that one-tenth? You kidding? I am too busy whooping for joy and straining against the g-forces, whilst man-handling the wildly writhing steering wheel. I can tell you though that the upchanges are snappy and sharp, so it probably is quicker.

Automatically quicker

Left to its own devices the gearbox also does a great job, particularly around town when it comes to the slow slog of the daily grind. Having said that, I’m missing the meaty manual shifter, butch clutch included. The auto is very good, but I still prefer my ZL1s with H-patterned ratios.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

Even as it seems naturally inclined to powerslide out of each and every slow corner, once the rubber warms up it does, you’ll be pleased to hear, get stickier, especially at speed. This car sweeps through high-speed bends as if it’s anchored to the centre of the arc its following. Talking of anchors the track-ready brakes do a fine job of biting, slowing and halting this beast. Which is very handy since top speed, since you asked, and I know you did, is 290kph for the Braveheart.

Fist fight or club crawl, this is your buddy

This is not an all-or-nothing monster though. Later when I ease off, calm the adrenaline, cool the fervour, open the windows and turn up my Bluetoothed tunes, it just becomes a great cruiser, burbling along, making just the right noise to accompany the classic rock on the radio.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in UAE

And then there’s the ride from the astonishingly intelligent magnetic suspension, which in normal mode is nicely cushioning the cabin from the surface below. Sport mode makes it a lot more frenetic though, so I’d leave that alone unless you were really on it on a smooth surface.

Too soon, and too few days later, it comes time to return it again to the still-grinning gentleman from GM – well you would be too if were driving this back. I almost want to break his heart and tell him to take a taxi home instead: ‘it’s okay, I’ve bought this one, here’s the deposit.’ Sigh. However I’d want it as a manual and in blue. Hmmm…. think I should give the bank a call.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – The Specs

Price: AED230,000k ($62,600)
Engine: 6.2-litre V8 580bhp @ 6000rpm, 556lb ft @ 4200rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.0s (3.9 auto), 290kph (296kph auto)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Weight: 1850kg

Big thanks to guest photographer Mishari Al-Reshaid for these stunning images. Check out more of his great car photography here 

Let us know what you think of the Camaro ZL1 below

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