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Due out in late 2015, the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro could get smaller engine options but isn’t likely to change its design theme too much hints chief engineer Al Oppenheiser.
With development of the car currently under way, a finished product is still a long way off, but recent comments by Oppenheiser reveal the key areas of concern, from weight, to fuel economy, to the sports car’s distinctive styling.
From an engineering standpoint, weight is a major issue. Oppenheiser admits the current car has been critiqued for being heavy. “We always get hammered for mass, and that’s not going to be getting easier going forward,” he told Automotive News.
Related to that is the choice of engines, with CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) targets requiring significantly more efficient engines. As a result, Oppenheiser says everything is currently on the table, from displacement to the number of cylinders. And with rumors of a turbocharged V6 Mustang or even a turbo 4-cylinder, Chevy has to be thinking similar thoughts.
But perhaps the biggest issue of concern is the styling of the modern Camaro, which is believed to be much of the reason for the car’s success, overtaking the Mustang in sales for the past two years. Oppenheiser readily admits that, “In some ways it is actually going to be tougher,” to redesign what has become an instant fan favorite.
Perhaps his most telling comment, Oppenheiser hints that the styling update is likely to be evolution and not revolution. “We always have to stay fresh and ahead.” Still, he says, “we do not want to lose the fact that we have nearly 40 percent of the market.”
Sure, it was pretty comical to watch Adolf Hitler get upset over the announcement of Shelby’s GT500 trumping Chevy‘s Camaro ZL1 on paper, but now things have gotten pretty serious with Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser predicting that the ZL1 will be quicker to 60-mph than the GT500 and even calls out the GT500′s Nurburgring time.
“We’ve done simulations. We predict that the ZL1 will be quicker to 60 than the  GT500… We ran the Nürburgring and released a time. Ford took the GT500, too, and never released a time. I guess you can draw your own conclusions,” Oppenheiser said openly at an Arizona drive event for the Camaro ZL1.
Now on paper and for those that believe numbers never lie, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 with 650-hp and 600 lb-ft of torque in a 3,850-lb body should easily outpace the Camaro ZL1′s 580-hp and 556 lb-ft of torque in a heavier 4,120-lb body. But Oppenheiser has no doubt that the ZL1 would be quicker around Nurburgring than the GT500.
It’s a bold claim surely, but it could be warranted given that the GT500 still features a solid rear-axle while the ZL1 sports all-independent suspension with third-generation Magnetic Ride shocks and a high-tech traction control system borrowed from the Corvette ZR1.
Hopefully it’ll get settled one day, ZL1 versus GT500 on a real track with the same driver. Until then, it’ll remain a war of the words.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1