2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE: First drive

FIRST DRIVE

The 1LE is the Camaro’s new performance package used to take on the Ford Mustang Boss 302’s Laguna Seca trim. With it, you get many components from the ZL1, like the flat-bottom suede steering wheel, thicker stabilizer bars, wheels and tires. The FE4 level shocks, GM’s stiffest, are only available on the 1LE.

Before I go on, I would like to thank Steve Padilla, ride & handling engineer for the 1LE, for being patient in teaching me how to run the track, as well as how to not destroy the clutch on the car.

The shifter had short, tight notchy throws with progressive, light clutch effort. The transmission is modified from the SS, with shorter gearing and a 3.91 final drive ratio. Get on the power and the car responds with haste, and with the amount of torque involved, 3rd gear was the perfect gear for the entire length of the track.

 

 

From corner to corner I couldn’t applaud the car more in any area besides the sheer grip that it had. The 285 section Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, front and rear, keeps the car from breaking traction no matter how you thrash it. Understeer was kept to a minimum unless you screwed up, and oversteer was nonexistent.

By the end of the day I ended up mastering the track, learning the very high limits of the car’s ability. My driving of course seemed slow after Padilla had a stab at it, making me look like a grandma by comparison around the track.

“Yellowjacket” as it was known internally, serves as the basis for what the 1LE became. Al Oppenheiser, Head Camaro Engineer, heard complaints from early Camaro SS owners of horrible understeer. To alleviate complaints, Oppenheiser and his team took a normal Camaro SS and went to work, making many changes to the vehicle, some of which ended up on the normal non-1LE SS models.

 

 

In the end, I can make this assumption about the ZL1 and 1LE. The ZL1 is the ZR1 Corvette, an absolute powerhouse that hangs with the best from across both oceans, while still being comfortable enough for daily use. 1LE is your ZO6, being an all-out track car that may not pleasure the power seekers as much, but is an absolute joy on the track. For around $37K, it’s also a pretty good value compared to the Boss 302.


Photo Credit:  Chevrolet

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