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The power of perfection

You could use any number of over-the-top action adjectives to describe the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. After 24 hours in our care, we can confirm the ZL1 is quite simply the most powerful, tyre-shredding devourer of blacktop you can buy for under $200,000, and thanks to HSV dealerships like Blackwells Holden, it can be yours, in right-hand drive.




What exactly is it?
The ZL1, like the regular 2SS Camaro, is part of HSV’s plan to re-inject HSV dealers with the unbridled power and savagery it has become famous for. Each ZL1 is shipped from the GM’s factory to HSV in Australia, where they are given a proper right-hand drive conversion before arriving here. Prices for this monster are $173,990 for the entry-level six-speed manual, and $175,990 for GM’s slick 10-speed automatic.

Under the bonnet
If you “pop the hood”, you find one of the most powerful production engines on sale in NZ today – the LT4 6.2L Supercharged V8. The numbers are insane; 477kW, 900Nm of torque, and zero to the national limit in four seconds. Sure, you will be doing 15.3L per 100km but that is not why you bought one, is it?

The ZL1 weighs in at 1800kg and sits at 4.8 metres long. Muscular haunches, wide Continental rubber housing aggressive 20-inch alloys, and those blasting exhaust tips, makes the ZL1 into an eclectic mix of beauty and the beast. Plus, in white with black tinted glass, our test car could have been an Imperial Stormtrooper with a spoiler.

Getting comfortable in the ZL1’s hip-hugging Recaro sports seats is easy. You sit quite low in the ZL1 and the suede rim sports steering wheel feels good in your mitts. The ZL1 gets plenty of onboard kit including a Head Up Display with G Meter, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Dual Zone Climate Control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Blind Spot Monitoring, satellite navigation, auto headlights and a heated steering wheel.

On the road
At cruising speed in regular Touring mode, the ZL1 is amazingly compliant. There isn’t much rear three-quarter vision, but you will be spending most of your time looking ahead. Once you leave city limits, the fun begins. Change to Sport mode, that Supercharged V8 booms and crackles like a far-off battlefield and you charge forward, hanging on for dear life. Change up to Track mode and you really need to be awake.

You have got to constantly ask yourself if the road, weather or traffic conditions are perfect before you give it the beans – the ZL1 commands respect and will quite happily humble those drivers who try and take liberties with it. That said, whether charging along arrow-straight asphalt or eating up miles of bendy bitumen, the ZL1 is a full-on rip-roaring automotive adrenaline pump.

All in all, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is one of the most exciting cars we have ever had the pleasure to experience. Oh, and there is still some tread left on the tyres.




Eyes on Stalks

There is no denying a huge chunk of Kiwi gearheads love a Chevy, though those wanting a late model Chevrolet had to import one privately, until now. Yes, to fill a gap left by the recently departed Aussie-built Commodore, HSV is selling the Chevrolet Camaro in New Zealand, in right-hand drive. I was given the chance to spend 24 hours with the latest right-hook Camaro in Auckland.



Brought to our shores to take on the might of the right-hand drive Ford Mustang, the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS is available through New Zealand’s six authorised HSV dealerships. The right-hand drive conversion process is professionally done by HSV in Australia before the cars arrive in New Zealand; it’s a proper conversion job too. This work, plus the car, puts the price at $104,990 NZD. The only customisable option available is $1,000 for metallic paint, although the Bumblebee yellow of my test car certainly had eyes on stalks.

The Camaro 2SS’s beating heart is the LT1 6.2 litre V8 with a fairly substantial 339kW of grunt and 617Nm of torque. This, coupled with an eight-speed automatic box, will allow you to reach the national limit in a blistering 4.6 seconds, which this writer can verify. Inside you get a very driver-focused cabin, containing nods to Camaros of the past while still feeling bang up to date. The driving position is nigh on perfect and the small steering wheel feels good clasped in your mitts. Standard kit includes 20-inch alloys, Brembo brakes, LED running lights, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, and dual zone climate control.

A press of the starter button and those quad tailpipes emit the sort of V8 bellow that would wake the dead. Blip the throttle and it crackles and booms like distant gunfire. There are three drive modes to choose from; Touring, Sport and Track. Touring mode allows you cruise along in comfort with the V8 burble slightly subdued in the background. The LT1 V8 also shuts down four cylinders if they aren’t needed, returning combined fuel consumption of 11.5L/100km. Change up to Sport and things get racier and louder, put it in Track mode and the steering and throttle response sharpens up, plus the shifts on the eight-speed box become quicker.

Now, old Camaros have always been lacking when it comes to undertaking the twisty stuff. This is no longer the case as the bendy B-roads out of Waiuku were devoured with such ease. The Camaro also feels incredibly planted and despite the slight girth, you always have the confidence to push hard. That said, you do have to be awake.

So how does the new right-hook Camaro stack up when compared to the Mustang? Well, the Mustang is $25,000 less expensive, but the Camaro rides better, is just as exciting and will be much more exclusive. Each to their own of course, but the Chevy just wins it for me.