Test Drive: 2013 Chevy Camaro SS 1LE

?Chevy offers a new performance package for the SS Camaro?

2013 Chevy Camaro - FrontIf you?re a fan of potent, rumbling Chevy V8 power and can?t afford a Corvette or the new ZL1 Camaro, not to worry, The Bow-Tie crew has come up with what may be an affordable alternative for you. It?s the 1LE Performance Package for Camaro SS models equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox. The 1LE package sells for $3,500. and combines the best elements of both the Chevy Camaro SS and ZL1to transport the resulting vehicle to competitive road-racing levels.

The iLE package was first introduced in the ?80s (1988 to be more precise), inspired by the involvement of the Camaro in Pro-Am road racing. The Package will only be available for 1SS and 2SS Camaro trim level coupes powered by a 6.2-liter LS3 V8, that?s rated at 426 horsepower, with 420 pound feet of torque. It?s only available with a six-speed transmission. The Camaro SS features a Tremec TR6060-M10 for all-around performance, while the Camaro 1LE features an exclusive Tremec TR6060-MM6, which is coupled to a numerically higher 3.91 final-drive ratio. The close-ratio gearing of the transmission is tuned for road-racing performance. ?Like the ZL1, the 1LE transmission features a standard air-to-liquid cooling system for more efficient track use.?In anticipation of consumers entering the 1LE in amateur-racing events, Chevrolet is pursuing SCCA approval of the 1LE Package for Touring Class competition.

2013 Chevy Camaro EngineIn addition, the 1LE Camaro comes with exclusive, monotube rear dampers instead of the twin-tube dampers found on regular SS models. The new hardware allowed for tuning the 1LE suspension to focus on optimal body-motion control while retaining a high degree of the ride quality and wheel-motion control of the Camaro SS. Track-day participation is further enhanced by a larger, 27-mm solid front stabilizer bar, and 28-mm solid rear stabilizer bar for improved body control, along with higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts to handle the increased levels of traction. A strut tower brace is added for improved steering feel and response, and ZL1-based 20 x 10-inch front and 20 x 11-inch aluminum wheels in the rear shod with 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires front and rear (identical to the front tires for ZL1) add to surface grip. ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts for improved on-track performance are also included, while a ZL1 high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups provide improved fuel delivery during high speed cornering.

In terms of its exterior appearance, the 2013-1LE Package is differentiated from standard SS Camaro models by its matte-black hood, front splitter and rear?spoiler ? along with the 10-spoke ZL1-based wheels, also finished in black. The functional front splitter and rear spoiler improve the car?s on-track performance by aiding in the reduction of aerodynamic lift at high speeds.

Moving to the interior, the 1LE package includes the ZL1?s flat-bottom steering wheel, trimmed in sueded-microfiber that?s designed for easier heel-and-toe driving on the racetrack. The short-throw shifter, also from the ZL1 is trimmed in sueded microfiber as well.

The electric power steering system developed for the ZL1 is now standard on all 2013 SS models. The variable ratio, variable effort system results in lighter efforts for increased maneuverability at parking-lot speeds, while providing increased resistance at higher speeds.

An available dual-mode exhaust system, also new for 2013 is available on Chevy Camaro SS models with the LS3 V8 engine and six-speed manual transmissions. Similar to the systems found on the ZL1 and Corvette models, this vacuum-actuated system provides a quieter driving experience at low engine speeds and a healthier, more aggressive sound when romping on the throttle.

With a base sticker starting at $37,035., and a final sticker that?s still under $40 large, a whopping 426 horses and 1g cornering, the Camaro SS 1LE is a no brainer as an affordable, highly capable amateur track day car.

In association with the press launch of the 2013 ZL1 Chevy Camaro convertible and 2013 Malibu 2.5L, national scribes were also afforded the opportunity to experience, firsthand, the Chevy Camaro SS 1LE on track at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, MI. where it performed flawlessly.

SUMMARY: ?The 1LE Performance Package is without question, an extremely worthwhile addition to SS trim Camaro models for 2013. For the amateur or wannabe racer, it delivers more than ample performance – more than enough to get the uninitiated into trouble, which one young journalist discovered, resulting in an off-track excursion. No harm was done except for a blown tire.

The iLE equipped Chevy Camaro is incredibly quick and unbelievably stable during highly spirited maneuvers. Yes, it?s possible to rotate it when pressed hard, but it takes real effort. I thought I was doing pretty well until I took a couple of hot laps with one of the track instructors, who took the car to its limits, demonstrating total control. Thanks to the broad torque range, it was possible to cover the full track in?third gear once there, and hit 104 mph on the short back straight section before entering pit lane.

I?m only able to come up with one issue that borders on negative – not negativity, really, but obscurity, and that?s in the nomenclature of the package itself. 1LE is fine for internal staff or old timers who might remember the original package designation, but something with more sizzle would certainly attract more attention and be more relative – maybe Super Sport squared.

Despite the lackluster name, the 1LE Performance Package delivers in spades, and serves up miles of smiles at what is really a bargain price, in a highly capable vehicle that boosts performance while providing all of the technology, safety features and creature comforts of a regular SS trim Camaro.

SPECIFICATIONS: Chevy Camaro SS with 1LE Performance Package-?13

Base Price: $37,035
Price as Tested: $39.950. * Estimate
Engine Type and Size: 6.2-liter OHV, 16-valve V8 with electronic sequential fuel injection
Horsepower (bhp): 426 @ 5,900 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 420 @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Front – Double-ball-joint, multi-link strut; direct-acting stabilizer bar; progressive-rate coil springs; fully adjustable camber, caster and toe; 27mm solid stabilizer bar. Rear – 4.5-link independent; progressive-rate coil springs over shocks; stabilizer bar; fully adjustable camber and toe; 28mm solid stabilizer bar and specific half-shafts
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel disc w/ ABS; ventilated front and rear rotors; four-piston fixed Brembo aluminum front and rear calipers
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 – P285/35 ZR20 mounted on 10-spoke black-finished alloy wheels
Wheelbase: 112.3 inches
Length Overall: 190.4 inches
Width: 75.5 inches
Height: 54.2 inches
Curb Weight: 3,860 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 19.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 16 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.35
0 – 60 mph: Not tested