How Did A Manual Chevy Camaro ZL1 Beat The 10-Speed Automatic Version?


Maybe quick automatics aren’t better than skilled hands.

It took a few generations of Cadillac engineers showing fans and the rest of the world that they knew what they were doing (in terms of chassis tuning) before the benefits trickled down to the rest of the General Motors lineup. Well, that time has come and gone and the result is the epic Alpha platform, which underpins the ATS, CTS, and Chevrolet Camaro. Unfortunately for each of these cars, the Alpha platform is so good it can handle a substantial bit of extra power, more than the Camaro SS and ATS-V supply.

Thankfully that comes to the muscle car via the ZL1, which ranks as the most powerful production Camaro ever thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Jonny Lieberman and the Motor Trend gang has finally gotten their mitts on one to use for an episode of Ignition.

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The thing is, there are two versions of the ZL1 (not including the recently released ZL1 1LE), a six-speed manual version and a ten-speed automatic that GM once said would shift faster than a double clutch transmission. Upon taking it out to Willow Springs raceway, professional race car driver Randy Pobst finds that he can beat the automatic version by .32 of a second. That is by no means a country mile, but it's a boon to the Save The Manuals campaign because it proves that not all automatic cars are better. Driving skill outweighs computer edge any day, not always because it supplies the better lap time as was shown in this case, but because regardless of which car wins, the driver is likely happier in the manual.

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