Review: the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an Ax Wielding Sweetheart

What do I mean by stating, “The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is  an ax wielding sweetheart?”

Perhaps I would make more sense if I called the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 a rabid pit bull in a tutu? A great white shark eating a vegan? How about Eddie Van Halen playing J.S. Bach? In other words, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 inhabits two worlds, power and grace. Okay, the whole shark eating a vegan thing was a poor metaphor for “power and grace,” but you know what I’m talking about – right?

Let me explain. 

Power: This Camaro has a supercharged 580 horsepower 6.2 liter V8 that makes 556 lbs-feet of torque. The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 weighs a tad over two tons and it has a proper six-speed manual transmission available. Near sea-level, it can run 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds and it does it with one of the best exhaust notes this side of NASCAR.

It grumbles, spits and growls like an old-school muscle car. The ZL1 bellows when you punch it like the devil and it begs you to leave it in gear, listening to amazing noises as it boils, boils, toils and troubles. The sound alone is worth the additional $1,300 gas guzzler tax.

Grace: Believe it or not, this is a dream to drive around corners. This is what separates the 2012 Camaro ZL1 from other muscle cars, it’s a proper handler. Click the “sport” button and the suspension instantly stiffens. The balance and response of this car is outstanding. The grip is tremendous; it clings like a warm tongue to dry ice. Despite the fat tires, massive Brembo brakes and magnetic suspension, it is just as comfortable as a Camaro V6 RS.

Sure, you don’t want to carpool with the Camaro ZL1, but driving around town is just as easy as any other Camaro. The only thing you have to keep an eye on is the front, lower chin spoiler. It juts out and is begging to get torn off by a steep driveway or a speed bump.

The interior is still plastic heaven. It’s a shame Chevy opted to keep the cheap plastics in the top-banana Camaro. I think a dash of brushed aluminum would make the silver painted, plastic trim look special. There is a nifty swath of Alcantra on the dashboard, steering wheel and shifter knob, but the parking brake is hard plastic. Bummer. I find the front seats more comfortable than the 60th Anniversary Corvette’s seats; although, more lateral support would be nice. Also, the green 1980’s digital graphics need to go away. Still, as a whole, the Camaro’s interior is just about as good as Ford and Dodge’s interiors.

My efficiency was crap. I averaged about 12 mpg using premium gasoline. I knew this was coming and I saved up in advance for my week spent with the ZL1. My poor mpg was aided by my irresponsible driving too. Can you blame me?

If you are looking for frugal driving with some performance, consider a MINI Cooper, FIAT 500 Abarth or Scion FR-S.

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had an as-tested price of $59,560.  The base model V6 Camaro starts around $24,000 while the base model V8 SS starts at $33,180. Do I think about 60 fat, smackeroos is too much to pay for the ultimate Camaro?

Let me answer it this way… on the recommendation scale of:

– Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it

– Forget it

I give the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 a Buy it… right now. Sell some vital organs and BUY IT!

One more thing. If you bought this car to help you get laid – and you’re still having problems… there must be something wrong with you.

Check out our video of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1!

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.