The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe has been the thorn in the side of the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger SRT for some time, but since those brands released the Mustang Shelby GT500 and Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye versions of their coupes, the hardcore ZL1 has been playing catch-up. It's getting a little long in the tooth now, but it's still an incredible machine, thanks to a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 sending 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. What keeps it exciting is the fact that it's still available with a standard six-speed manual transmission, although a slick ten-speed auto is also available. But is a stick shift enough to keep the ZL1 relevant?
For the 2022 model year, some of the ZL1 Coupe's options and features are shuffled around and there have been some changes to the color palette. Other than that, the 2022 model is mostly a carryover of the 2021 model.
See trim levels and configurations:
6.2L Turbo V8 Gas
This is the aspect of the ZL1's persona that has been developed the most: this is a track car with license plates. Chevrolet's engineers took developing this car very seriously and even honed the bodywork in a wind tunnel to optimal aerodynamic efficiency, which is rather handy when your car can do close to 200 mph. There's plenty of mechanical grip too, thanks to specially tuned springs and magnetic dampers, while an electronic limited-slip differential helps you continue to face the tightest corners with confidence. There's also an adjustable rear stabilizer bar, and the result is a car that steers and handles with incredible poise, despite all that power. The Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 tires are another neat touch that help you go as fast as possible. Sure, you can slide this thing with ease, but learn to make the most of its Track mode, and you'll be able to take corners far faster than you ever thought possible. Brembo brakes do a great job of slowing your progress when necessary too, while hardcore enthusiasts can opt for the 1LE package for even better downforce and control. Still, it's not unbearable on the road, as those adaptive magnetic dampers do an excellent job of smoothing over big and small bumps alike.
If you've driven a GT500 hard on track or felt the raw acceleration of a Challenger Hellcat Redeye, the ZL1 will probably still excite you - it's that good. Yes, it's old, and yes, its interior isn't of the highest quality, but the way it handles and accelerates is still ridiculous. It's also still a good-looking car despite becoming a little dated, and we like the long list of standard features. Considering its asking price, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a bargain in more ways than just performance. And let's not forget that it comes with a proper, old-school, fun manual gearbox as standard. What it lacks in interior space, cargo volume, and build quality, it makes up for with charm, supercharger noise, and the fact that it's still the only pony car that pulls off the whole Autobot thing convincingly. What's not to love?
The supposedly normal Challenger SRT Hellcat is just as much a performance bargain as the ZL1. It starts at just $59,765 and also comes with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8. This one is a real monster though, producing a simply absurd 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque. Like the ZL1, you can have it with a six-speed manual or an automatic if you prefer, but it's not just power where the Hellcat demolishes the ZL1. It's also much roomier and more comfortable inside, has a massive trunk, and simply feels sturdier. In addition, if you're willing to spend as much as a fully loaded ZL1 1LE will set you back, you can get a Hellcat Redeye. This gives you an earth-shattering 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. Whoever said power isn't everything may have been right, but it certainly makes us lean more towards the Dodge on this one.
The Mustang Mach 1 comes with both a manual and an automatic gearbox. The idea is that it is the ultimate Mustang not built especially for the track. Despite this, it produces 22 percent more downforce than a regular Mustang, with a lot more available through an optional handling package. It's a lot less powerful than the Camaro ZL1, though, producing just 480 horsepower. Like the ZL1, it's fitted with magnetic dampers and big Brembo brakes. We'll have to wait to drive it for a final answer. With pricing starting at $53,400, it offers excellent value though. If you don't mind the auto-only transmission and a starting price of $72,900, the Mustang GT500 represents the ultimate fire-breathing Mustang and has a monstrous 760 hp on tap.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe: