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Driven: HSV’s MY19 Chevrolet Camaro muscles in

Camaro fans get their wish as HSV remanufactures 477kW/881Nm ZL1 to right-hand drive

Chevrolet logo7 Jun 2019

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) says it is appealing to more of the “GM faithful” than before with the release of its locally remanufactured MY19 Camaro range that is headlined by the ballistic ZL1 flagship, which starts from $159,990 plus on-road costs.
 
Speaking to journalists last week at the MY19 Camaro national media launch in Melbourne, HSV managing director Tim Jackson said that while HSV’s business model has changed significantly, the Camaro program is closely aligned with what the company is known for.
 
“The core – in terms of performance – is where we’ve come from and that’s why Camaro, and particularly ZL1, is a product that’s close to our hearts,” he said.
 
Asked to describe the typical ZL1 buyer, Mr Jackson said he knows of several current owners of HSV’s Commodore-based vehicles – including one who counts a GTSR W1 among his car collection – that have already put down their hard-earned sight unseen.
 
“We are tapping into this GM, Camaro fanbase that’s been there but hasn’t had access to this vehicle … as we anticipated,” he said.
 
“If you use Nurburgring as a performance measure, it sits in a space that’s pretty unique for its price.
 
“I know that there’s a reference once you get into a price point, people go, ‘OK, what else can I get at that price point?’
 
“But there’s a lot to be said for the image of the vehicle – that’s often the element that’s missed when we look at how we evaluate vehicles.
 
“And (ZL1) has a unique image and performance capability that we think gives it a significant amount of its appeal.”
 
Mr Jackson said that with eight months of 2SS sales now under HSV’s belt as part of the MY18 program, it knows that the “GM faithful” are also interested in the entry-level Camaro, although the starting price has now crept up by $1000, to $86,990.
 
“If the only reference point is Mustang, we get it, it looks expensive,” he said. “(But) if you look at the total market and what you get in 2SS, it’s pretty good value.”
 
With a six-speed manual transmission (with rev-matching) now available as standard on 2SS and ZL1, Mr Jackson said “roughly 35-40 per cent” of Camaro buyers will opt for the three-pedal set-up.
 
“Because we’ve had autos in the mix, we think there’s some pent-up demand for manual, so we’ll have a slightly higher mix than that (initially),” he said.
 
“We think there’s an opportunity; certainly, a niche in a niche. There’s still that real aficionado who loves a manual and really appreciates that manual in their vehicle choice.”
 
Alternatively, buyers can pay $2200 extra for the rear-wheel-drive Camaro’s new 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission (with paddle-shifters), which GM co-developed with Ford Motor Company. It brings with it Launch Control, Line-Lock and Lift-foot Gear Hold functionality.
 
As reported, ZL1 is motivated by a 6.2-litre supercharged LT4 V8 petrol engine that produces a mammoth 477kW of power at 6400rpm and a colossal 881Nm of torque at 3600rpm.
 
Comparatively, 2SS makes do with a naturally aspirated LT1 unit that develops ‘only’ 339kW at 6000rpm and 617Nm at 4400rpm, although it features cylinder deactivation technology that improves its economy.
 
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle for ZL1 is either 15.6 (manual) or 15.3 litres (automatic) per 100 kilometres, while 2SS manages 13.0L/100km in automatic form.
 
The latter’s manual guise is currently unrated as it is not currently in production. It will begin rolling off HSV’s production line in Clayton South, Victoria, next month.
 
Braking in the 2SS is handled by Brembo discs with four-piston callipers, while ZL1 swaps out the front set for 390mm two-piece rotors with six-pot monobloc stoppers.
 
Suspension-wise, the ZL1 also steps up with its ‘performance’ tune and Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, while 2SS’ independent ‘sports’ set-up goes without either. Either way, their electric power steering is speed-sensitive and has a variable ratio.
 
Standard equipment in 2SS includes 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle run-flat tyres (front: 245/40, rear: 275/35), dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, a bi-modal exhaust system with quad stainless-steep tips, a mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD) and heated side mirrors.
 
Inside, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, an 8.0-inch multi-function display, dual-zone climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory functionality, a six-way power adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated sports seats, a heated sports steering wheel, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery and ambient lighting feature.
 
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors plus eight airbags (dual front, side, curtain and knee).
 
While a sunroof and wireless smartphone charging are no longer standard on 2SS, it does gain a windshield-projected head-up display, a rearview camera mirror and forward collision warning for MY19 alongside an 8.0-inch touchscreen CI3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
 
Meanwhile, ZL1 distinguishes itself with its Graphite Grey 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in Continental ContiSport Contact 5 tyres (front: 285/30, rear: 305/30), HID headlights, carbon-fibre composite bonnet air extractor, electronic LSD, quad four-inch stainless-steel exhaust tips, wireless smartphone charging, Recaro performance seats, suede upholstery and alloy pedals.
 
HSV is planning to offer ZL1 with its OE set of track-focused Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres for about $1000, which would normally retail for around $2500.
 
Four driving modes (Tour, Sport, Track and Snow/Ice) for either grade allow the driver to alter throttle, exhaust, transmission and steering settings, among others, while on the move.


2019 Chevrolet Camaro pricing*

2SS $86,990
2SS (a) $89,190
ZL1 $159,990
ZL1 (a) $162,190

*Excludes on-road costs


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