HSV Camaro ZL1.
HSV Camaro ZL1.

HSV’s ready to launch manic new V8 Camaro supercar

MEET the most powerful muscle car sold in Australia.

HSV has confirmed plans to offer the supercharged Camaro ZL1 throughout its dealer network, giving customers a dose of V8 wallop normally reserved for supercar owners.

Powered by a 6.2-litre V8 with a supercharger, direct injection and variable valve timing, the ZL1 is expected to kick out a massive 480kW and 860Nm - more power than the likes of BMW's M5 or the Mercedes-AMG GT, and more than the 474kW and 815Nm of the locally-built, Commodore-based HSV GTSR W1.

HSV Camaro ZL1.
HSV Camaro ZL1.

Available with a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission, the ZL1 will be the fastest model ever offered by the brand. Though HSV has not issued performance claims surrounding the car, Chevrolet says it completes the 0-60mph (96.5km/h) dash in 3.5 seconds, knocks out the quarter mile (400 metres) in 11.4 seconds and can reach a top speed of 198mph (318.6km/h), though independent testing found it can reach more than 320km/h. A limited-edition "1LE" version with extra spoilers offered in the US outgunned the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Nissan GT-R Track Edition in Car and Driver's Lightning Lap test.

Naturally, the ZL1 is loaded with supporting tech including oversized Brembo brakes, magnetically adjustable multi-mode suspension, a torque-vectoring diff and enormous 20-inch wheels wrapped in sticky Goodyear rubber.

HSV Camaro ZL1.
HSV Camaro ZL1.

But none of this comes cheap.

Priced from $159,990 in manual form (add another $2200 for the auto), the Camaro sits closer to blue-chip performance cars such as the Nissan GT-R or Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe than its natural rival in Ford's Mustang.

Normally priced from $62,000 in the US ($87,400 AUD), the Camaro is subject to a comprehensive re-engineering program at HSV's Melbourne headquarters, where the model is taken apart and painstakingly converted to right-hand drive for use on Australian roads.

Buyers with a little less to spend can opt for the Camaro 2SS, which continues to offer 339kW of power and 617Nm of torque.

The big news for drivers is that the standard Camaro now comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

HSV Camaro ZL1.
HSV Camaro ZL1.

The short-throw six-speed manual option features rev-matching, hill hold and launch control settings, while a 10-speed paddle-shift auto shared with the Mustang brings clever tech including launch control and a line-locker.

Manual examples are priced from $86,990 plus on-road costs, while the auto will set you back $89,190. Metallic paint costs $850.

Upgrades to the Camaro 2SS coupe include new front and rear styling bringing it into line with American models.

The first batch of 550 vehicles offered in Australia were originally intended for Argentina, and didn't quite fit local requirements.

Rolling on 20-inch wheels in a fresh five-spoke design, the Camaro 2SS benefits from new features including an upgraded infotainment package, head-up display and forward collision alert technology.

HSV Camaro ZL1.
HSV Camaro ZL1.

Normally reserved for the drag strip, the line lock feature holds a stationary car steady using the front brakes while drivers spin the rear wheels to heat rear rubber with a smoky burnout.

Ford elected to remove the controversial technology from the Mustang GT over fears it could be abused on the street.

But HSV spokesman Damon Paull says the brand trusts customers to do the right thing.

"It's an interesting one" he says.

"We have emphasised it's available for track usage - I think we've been fairly clear on that.

"It is a track performance feature only."

Paull says the burnout mode builds on other features best left for the track in many other cars, including speedometres that read beyond 200km/h, and the ability to deactivate stability control for driving thrills.

Automatic Camaro 2SS variants go into production in March, with manual models following in June. The ZL1 kicks off in automatic form in April, with the manual going into production in May.



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