By Steve & Tami Laser
Like so many fans of Chevrolet performance cars, we were overjoyed when the Camaro returned for 2010 following an eight-year hiatus. With styling influenced by the incredibly popular first generation (1967-’69) this new-age Camaro became an instant classic. Yet like the original, changes must occur to keep Camaro on the radar screen of enthusiasts as well as counter the revamped Ford Mustang and updated Dodge Challenger.
For 2014, Chevrolet has tweaked Camaro’s styling. A new front fascia with new headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights gives it a sleeker appearance. At the rear are new diffusers and exhaust tips, new LED taillights and available rear spoiler. Inside, there’s a color driver information center and available heads-up display.
Camaro’s lineup continues to include the affordable LS and LT coupes and LT convertible motivated by a 323-horsepower V6 engine. With a base price starting at just $24,550 for the LS, Camaro remains an excellent value.
Those craving additional performance can step up to the SS with its rumbling 6.2-liter V8 engine that puts out 400 horsepower when mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission or 426 horses teamed with the 6-speed manual.
If that’s not enough, two very special high-performance Camaros are available. The ZL1 sports a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out an amazing 580 horses. Chevrolet says the ZL1 is capable of launching from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.9 seconds.
The Z/28 returns for 2014 inspired by the first model originally introduced in 1967. This new Z is equipped with a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter V8 that delivers 505 horses. Like the original, it’s focused on track capability with up to 1.08g cornering while serious weight reduction has shaved 300 pounds off its curb weight compared to the ZL1.
As previous owners of three Camaros including a Z28, we thought long and hard about testing the ZL1 or Z28. Yet base prices of $55,000 for the former and $72,000 for the latter put them into Corvette territory, thus limiting the appeal of these two specialty models.
So we did the next best thing and requested a 2014 Camaro SS equipped with the 1LE performance package and manual transmission. With a base price of $33,055, our tester added the $3,500 1LE package, Recaro performance front seats at $1,995 and a navigation system for a bottom line of $40,340 including destination.
In addition to the regular SS equipment, 1LE adds unique close-ratio transmission gearing, special monotube rear dampers, larger front and rear stabilizer bars, a front strut tower brace, ZL1 20-inch black alloy wheels with 285/35ZR-20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G2 tires, ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts plus a ZL1 high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups. Also included is a unique rear spoiler, flat-black hood and suede-covered steering wheel and shift knob.
While we didn’t have the opportunity to test it on a track, Chevrolet says the SS 1LE is capable of more than 1g cornering – and we believe them. We drove our tester nearly 200 miles on a variety of different roads including some of the twistiest that we could find with hairpin turns, long sweepers and changes in elevation – and it cornered like a champ.
This Camaro is a world-class performer with outstanding handling, exciting performance, supportive Recaro seats, wonderful Brembo brakes and an excellent manual gearbox. The 1LE package adds frosting to the cake. And while it’s suited for track driving, it’s easy to live with every day on the street.
Of course, these days folks also seek connected cars and Camaro obliges with high-tech goodies. Our tester included Bluetooth, OnStar, Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen and optional in-dash GPS navigation system.
During our week-long test drive we left the windows down to enjoy the best music to our ears – the fantastic exhaust note from Camaro’s V8 engine. We liked this car so much that we got misty eyed when it was time to say goodbye and return it to Chevrolet. If we were in the market for a sporty performance coupe, the Camaro SS equipped with the 1LE performance package and manual transmission is the one that we would buy.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS press fleet vehicle provided by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors. (Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information from the manufacturer including prices, features, specifications and warranties is subject to change without notice.)
Story, photos and videos ©2014 CarNichiWa.com