Adding muscle in Chicago

  • 25-Feb-2011 04:25 EST
2012 Camaro ZL1.jpg

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was name-inspired by the ZL1 all-aluminum engine that was installed in a few regular production 1969 Camaros.


Extreme performance versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Charger marked world debuts at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show.

As the most technically advanced Camaro yet, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 is fitted with a supercharged 6.2-L V8 LSA engine that will produce an estimated 550 hp (410 kW) at 6100 rpm and an estimated 550 lb·ft (746 N·m) at 3800 rpm.

"We worked to optimize the torque through the rpm range, so you're riding the low-end torque of the supercharger, and you're riding the high horsepower curve at the higher ends," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro's chief engineer.

Eaton's Twin Vortices Series sixth-generation supercharger provides a 2.5:1 pressure-ratio capability and a maximum boost of 9 psi (0.62 bar).

According to Alexander Bogicevic, Manager, Worldwide Engineering for Eaton Supercharger, the sixth-generation supercharger's four-lobe rotors are twisted 160 degrees vs. the previous generation's three lobes being twisted 60 degrees. The four-lobe rotor design nets a 25% reduction in packaging size and weight as well as improved NVH. Higher flow inlet and outlet ports are another highlight of the sixth-generation supercharger.

The ZL1's engine's forged steel crankshaft, delivering a 3.62-in (92-mm) stroke, mates to a set of powder-metal connecting rods and hypereutectic pistons, which in combination with the cast aluminum cylinder heads provide a 9.1:1 compression ratio.

Oppenheiser noted that the six-speed manual Tremec TR6060 transmission's short-throw shifter is unique for the Camaro ZL1 and was designed by General Motors engineers. The transmission uses a 9.45-in (240-mm) dual mass flywheel and twin-disc clutch system.

Based on the Camaro SS, the ZL1's unique exterior treatments include a redesigned front fascia with a splitter and vertical fog lamps, the addition of a carbon fiber air extractor on the aluminum hood, new rocker panels, and a rear spoiler. "All of the components were designed to work in concert with each other to create overall downforce," said Oppenheiser.

Although final numbers for Cd, curb weight, and center of gravity are not yet available, Oppenheiser said that ZL1's ride height is 0.27 in (7 mm) lower than the Camaro SS.

ZL1's five-spoke 20 x 10 in aluminum front wheels, 20 x 11 in aluminum rear wheels, and the new Goodyear Supercar F2 tires net about 22 lb (10 kg) in mass savings vs. the Camaro SS, according to Oppenheiser.

The ZL1 is the first Camaro with electric power steering (EPS). According to Frank Lubischer, Vice President of Global Steering Engineering at TRW Automotive, the steering system features further development of TRW Automotive's belt-drive EPS "in that it represents next-generation motor, electronics, and mechanical drivetrain components."

First-time applications also highlight the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8.

Kevin Winters, Program Manager for the Charger SRT8 said, "This will be the initial launch of active valve exhaust on a Chrysler LLC vehicle." Depending on the engine pressure, a valve in the exhaust system opens and closes.

Explained Winters: "The active valve enables the engine to operate in four-cylinder mode over a wider rpm range, so with this technology we're able to further improve the Hemi V8's fuel efficiency without degrading the noise quality of the exhaust system."

The Charger SRT8 also marks the first time a Chrysler SRT vehicle is fitted with standard paddle shifters on the steering wheel. With an estimated 465 hp (347 kW) and 465 lb·ft (630 N·m) ratings, the 6.4-L engine replaces the 6.1-L Hemi producing 425 hp (317 kW) and 420 lb·ft (569 N·m).

Although specific horsepower and torque numbers will be revealed closer to the four-door sport car's Fall 2011 production release, the 6.4-L engine will mate to the W5A580 five-speed automatic transmission. Dodge representatives say the 6.4-L Hemi will produce an additional (estimated) 80 lb·ft (108 N·m) at 2900 rpm vs. the previous Charger SRT8's engine.

The new car's exterior styling departs from past Chargers including the 2010 SRT8 (the last model year for the car). According to Mark Trostle, Chief Designer of the Charger SRT8: "Compared to the 2011 Charger R/T, the basic sheet metal is common. But the 2012 Charger SRT8 has a unique front fascia, side sills, 20-in wheels, rear fascia, rear spoiler, and hood. So as aggressive as the Charger R/T is, we went even further with the new SRT8, just making it really, really tough looking."

For the first time on a Charger, the hood also serves a functional purpose in terms of helping with front downforce and helping to exhaust hot air from the engine. "Other Chrysler LLC vehicles—including the Dodge Ram SRT10, Dodge Viper SRT, and the 2010 Dodge Charger SRT—had forward-facing air intakes on the hood, but this time around we wanted to expel air from under the hood. This functional and aesthetic design cue is an element that could potentially appear on future SRT vehicles," said Trostle.

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