We really liked the 2016 Camaro RS we drove last year, true it wasn’t the SS, but even with auto box it was livelier and almost as fast as the Camaro SS 1LE we drove in 2015. If I remember correctly that car had a pretty tricky manual gearbox and a few in the office fell victim to stalling a few times. You really had to take it by the scruff of the neck and really drive it.
Now for the first time Chevy offers the 1LE kit on the V6. Costing an extra $4,500 over the standard V6, the package includes SS standard FE3 suspension, rear cradle mounts, dampers, toe links and stabilizer bars. V6 cars get new four-piston Brembo front calipers along with larger 12.6-inch front rotors, staggered 20-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric run-flat tires. The 3.6-liter V6 mill pumps out the same 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque and that is where one problem lies…….. More on that later.
Our 2017 Camaro V6 1LE arrived covered in Krypton Green paint and the standard matte black hood……I had been hoping for something a bit more subtle having spent last week with a Vegas Yellow Audi S3, but it was not to be. Instead people stopped and stared, or came up to me at Costco, simply to ask me what it was. The consensus was almost everyone I spoke to loved the color. Our car had a few other goodies including very good Recaro front buckets for $1,195 and an optional $1,300 Performance Data Recorder, which lets you to record and analyze your lapping sessions.
The 1LE has been positively invigorated by these enhancements, it feels more agile and begs to be driven on twisty roads. Hold on to your hats folks, now it feels like a proper sports car. Our tester was fitted with the optional, but worth it, dual mode exhaust which starts out at a low burble and ends in a high pitched howl once you mash your foot into the carpet.
Where could we drive fast and at the same time not get caught by the local sheriff?………..Imperial Highway in Ocotillo, CA, that’s where. It’s a 47 mile ribbon of tarmac which heads North through the desert to Scissors Crossing, and includes long straights, sweeping bends and tight turns, all while offering fabulous views and no traffic. What little traffic you do encounter can be easily dispatched thanks to numerous broken lines. It’s a gem of a road.
On long straights, you could almost be outpaced by a quickly driven Honda Accord V6, because unless you keep the V6 above 4K the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro V-6 1LE is somewhat gutless, reaching it’s peak torque at 5,300 rpm. The good news is it likes to rev and on this particular road the long straights lead to some very entertaining turns where the 1LE simply comes alive. Attack a tight turn at speed, and the 1Le simply hunkers down and powers round, turn-in is immediate and body movements are minimal. Then there’s the steering…….a little heavy but very accurate with almost no play. Keep the V6 on the boil above 4K rpm and it simply scythes through turns with the 275/35 rears hanging on with no apparent distress.
The short throw shifter is very good, the clutch pretty forgiving, a vast improvement here. With our VBox attached the best 0-60 we could muster was 5.2 seconds, but that’s not what this car is about. Find a track or a piece of desert asphalt and once you hit the twisty bits this car is a grin fest.
The Recaro front seats are super supportive and comfortable and it’s not difficult to adjust for a good driving position. Rear seats, well they are for kids or adults who don’t call shotgun. Rear three quarter visibility is poor especially when reversing, but there is a back up camera which mitigates most of that issue. The new interior’s materials look and feel better. There’s also cool new technology, high-definition color displays and a multi colored ambient lighting system. It retains the same layout as before, more modern while retaining muscle car theme.
I love to have my expectations exceeded and having got over not getting the V8 I can honestly say I am very impressed with this car. Our tester was loaded so I probably wouldn’t have optioned the ambient lighting/comfort package but everything else was just right. I applaud GMs effort here to make a thoroughly well executed track-focused car that performs exactly where it should……..in the bends.
2017 Camaro 1LE V6 Numbers
|Price As Tested:||$43,085|
|Vehicle Type:||Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe|
|Engine Type:||3.6 Liter DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|Power:||335 hp @ 6800 rpm|
|Torque:||284 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm|
|Curb Weight:||3,450 lb|
|Zero to 60 mph:||5.2 sec|
|Top speed:||151 mph|
|EPA city/highway driving:||16/20/28 mpg|
|Our Observed Fuel Economy||19 mpg|
|Pros||Superb handling and steering, great in the turns|
|Cons||Needs more power, poor rear three quarter vision|