Muscle- and pony-car fans will always opt for the V-8, no matter the other choices available to them. Internet commenters and hacks will scoff at the idea that a V-6—or, worse, a turbocharged four-cylinder—could even be considered fun. Whatever.
We think that the more sporting, rear-drive coupes that exist in this world, the better, no matter what they have under the hood. And outside of objective measurements like zero-to-60 times or quarter-mile sprints, the fun gap between (increasingly better) smaller engines and the still-stonking bigger engines in cars like the Ford Mustang and theChevrolet Camaro is shrinking. Consider that gap even tighter with the introduction of Chevrolet’s latest 1LE track package for the Camaro.
Reintroduced on the previous-generation (fifth-generation) Camaroafter more than a decade away, the 1LE package incorporates a track-ready suspension setup, wider wheels and sticky summer tires, mild aerodynamic add-ons, and extra cooling for the engine and driveline. Previously, it was offered only on the V-8–powered SS model. The new 1LE package has been democratized, for it will be an option on V-6 Camaros, too. (Will the upcoming turbo-four-powered Camaro also be let into the Hall of 1LE? We’re told Chevy is considering the idea.) While this technically means there are two 1LE kits, one for the V-8 and one for the V-6, both are similarly tuned to deliver serious on-track performance for not a lot of money.
For the V-6 . . .
The 1LE packages are specific to each engine, owing to those engines’ distinctly different weights. For six-cylinder 1LEs, the package is essentially the FE3 suspension from a stock, V-8 Camaro SS with a few tuning tweaks. This includes the dampers, rear subframe mounts, ball-jointed toe links, and anti-roll bars.
The tighter suspension works in concert with staggered-width 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels and 245/40 front and 275/35 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 run-flat summer tires to deliver a claimed 0.97 g of lateral grip. (Quick note: This figure is subject to the testing methods and the diameter of the skidpad used to measure it; we evaluate lateral grip on a 300-foot skidpad, where a stock V-6 Camarorecorded an impressive 0.91 g.) Other mechanical enhancements for the V-6 1LE include enhanced cooling (engine, transmission, and differential oils), Brembo four-piston front brake calipers, a limited-slip diff, the dual-mode exhaust that’s optional on regular Camaros, and the SS model’s fuel-delivery system that better handles higher cornering forces. A satin-black vinyl wrap for the hood and the side mirrors, a chin splitter and rear lip spoiler, and a suede-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob round out the modifications.
And for the V-8 . . .
With no Camaro model above the SS to borrow suspension components from—at least presently—the SS 1LE introduces the all-new FE4 suspension to the latest Camaro family. (We suspect that, as on the previous-generation Camaro, there will be some overlap between the SS 1LE’s chassis and that of the supercharged Camaro ZL1; expect to see FE4 components on that model when it debuts.) Chevrolet cites “specific tuning” for the SS 1LE’s standard magnetorheological dampers, as well as for the springs and anti-roll bars. The V-8’s setup is augmented by even more aggressive tires, in this case Goodyear rubber with Corvette-like section widths of 285/30 up front and 305/20 in back.
Brembo front brakes incorporate larger aluminum-hat rotors and six-piston monoblock calipers, while the rear end is beefed up by an electronically controlled limited-slip differential similar to that used in the Corvette. Standard Camaro SS models already ship with engine, differential, and transmission oil coolers, so those items aren’t specific to the 1LE package but are useful nonetheless. The SS 1LE also comes standard with a dual-mode exhaust, a satin-black hood and side mirrors, a front splitter and rear lip spoiler, and a microsuede-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Also included are a pair of deeply bolstered Recaro bucket seats—which are optional on the V-6 1LE—covered in a grippy cloth with microsuede inserts. The nifty Performance Data Recorder feature, essentially a dash cam with lap-time analysis software that first debuted on the Corvette, is optional on both 1LEs.
Power Corrupts, or Does It?
Astute readers may have noticed that we’ve not mentioned a single horsepower or torque figure for either 1LE. That’s no accident. As before, the 1LE package is strictly a chassis upgrade, and ordering it changes nothing about the Camaro’s six- and eight-cylinder engines. As such, the V-6 1LE packs the same 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6 as other six-cylinder Camaros, while the SS 1LE uses the familiar fire-breathing 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 as its eight-cylinder Camaro brethren. The 1LE package does, however, restrict buyers to the six-speed manual transmission—correctly, in our estimation. In our testing, the stick-shift Camaro V-6 streaks to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, and the Camaro V-8 (with the quicker automatic) does the deed in 3.9 ticks.
Adding the 1LE’s extra helping of grip and track-readiness to that sort of acceleration capability sounds great to us, although determining a favorite between the two 1LEs may prove exceptionally difficult. Already, the lithe V-6 Camaro strikes us as the sports car of the family, with the brutal V-8 model doing its best impression of a Corvette with a virtually useless back seat. Both are phenomenal to drive, and we suspect the 1LE packages will amplify each version’s personality.
The packages, which are available on the 1LT or 2LT six-cylinder cars and the 1SS V-8, are expected to be fairly inexpensive. The last Camaro’s kit cost just $3500 and transformed the Camaro SS into a laser-guided track missile. Now, with the package available on the 1LT V-6 (which starts at $26,695), it might be possible to snag a 1LE for about $30,000. If that’s not reason enough to drop the “V-8 or die!” line, we suggest you go test-drive a six-cylinder Camaro right now. We’ll try not to say we told you so.
source: caranddriver.com BY ALEXANDER STOKLOSA