2017 Chevrolet Camaro
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Review of: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 2dr Cpe SS w/1SS
2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE: The musclecar with a sports car TKO
By G. R. Whale
Apr. 12, 2017
The 1LE tag first applied to a 1989 package aimed at Showroom Stock racing. This is the best iteration yet, capable of running with exotics twice or treble the price. And for 2017 Camaro V6 offers a 1LE package the similarly-priced Mustang GT V8 is hard pressed to stay with on hot laps.
Pros & Cons
- + On-road performance
- + Value for money
- + Usable technology
- - Visibility
- - Rear seat space
Cleverly drawn, Camaro appears at once sleek and a notchback as the original, and these may be the widest hips it’s ever had. The engine fits in a Corvette, so the high windowsill, hood and fender line are pure styling.
The 1LE includes handsome, easy-to-clean (brake-dusted after 50 km on the highway) forged wheels, silver/black “1LE” scripted red brake calipers, deep gloss-black grille feeding lots of coolers and hood extractors to remove heat, and “satin black” mirrors, hood wrap, spoilers at both ends and rear fascia. However, the hood looked flat black, less sheen than the other satin parts, and I’d be happier with paint.
This Krypton green is extra-cost non-metallic, my only advice to leave it garaged on Saint Patrick’s Day.
The dash is heritage design done right with modern touches like climate controls in the vent trim rings and an instrument pack that puts everything needed—and there are many choices—in sightlines; I found the head-up display only modestly helpful.
Suede steering wheels and shifters are race-car stuff, but racers wear gloves so I had to grip firmer than normal and I’m not convinced they’ll wear like leather. The ergonomic relationships are all good, the Recaro seats are comfortable and retentive without being confining—though, curiously for a track-focused car, have no harness cutouts — and the console kneepads are appreciated but the power point looks an afterthought.
Sports car compromises include a rear seat better suited for baggage than any legged organism, limited cabin stowage and a modest 260-litre trunk that would carry my business-class-legal roller if only it went through the loading aperture, and it’s better than before but still a pain to see out of for finding apexes, hillside berms, uphill switchbacks and anything on the quarter beam.
The SS 1LE has CarPlay/Android Auto, wifi hotspot and a predictive rear camera and they all worked quite well. The optional Performance Data Recorder, equally useful for gathering driving-coaching data or proving the parking valet messed up, on a V-6 1LE requires another package that includes blind-spot warning.
On the downside, the reflective center screen is angled downward from vertical so everything’s overlaid on your hand, light-color sleeves, nice silver/anodized red shifter and the surrounding trim. And some automation bugged me: left in Tour or Sport mode it restarted that way but it doesn’t for Snow/Ice, the light sensors determine if it’s dark or not and you have little say, and it shouldn’t be this difficult to turn off bright cabin lighting to keep bugs out.
A long cloverleaf demonstrates a ton of grip, literally 1.7 metric tons of lateral acceleration hovering around 1.00 g. While fat, sticky tires nearly useless at anything below 5 degrees Celsius certainly contribute, it’s the balanced chassis, accurate steering and superb brakes and feel that lets them do their best work.
Firmer springs and anti-roll bars are 1LE basics, but on SS it also adds magnetorheological shocks (MRC) for a pliable ride on bad surfaces and maximum adhesion on good ones. SS 1LE also adds an electronically-controlled differential that will let you power out of a bend like a pro, assuming you’re in track mode and the appropriate PTM setting. Don’t worry, the separate book in the glovebox explains it.
The Corvette’s V8 and six-speed stick give a baritone 455 horses when prodded but idle away from a stop easily. Freed of constraints, figure 100 km/h in 4.1-4.4 seconds and 300 km/h at the top end. On ratings of 14.3/9.4 l/100km (roughly 2.0 L/100 km more than V-6) I did 16.2 and 8.4, but enjoy the power regularly and that 72-litre tank empties quickly.
Despite the performance bent, SS 1LE is a respectable highway cruiser, stiff structure and MRC ruling out sharp impacts and revs so low it’s barely noisier than a family sedan.
A V6 1LE runs $48,000 trimmed like this SS Krypton Frog. For $4,800 more, a 1LE V8 adds 120 horses, bigger brakes and tires, MRC dampers and eLSD—a superior go-fast value. (And GM says the warranty stands even for track use.) Only a slower $48,000 Nismo 370Z or nominally faster $74,000 Shelby GT350 are remotely close in delight for dollars. If you think you need the 650-hp ZL1 (+$20,000), note this 455-hp SS laps quicker than the last 580-hp ZL1.
Saying the SS 1LE is a great performance car for the money sells it short. It’s a great performance car period, the money a bonus for buying tires, brake pads and gasoline.