Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE No Longer Manual-Only, Gains 10-Speed Transmission

Sebastien Bell
by Sebastien Bell

Chevrolet won’t let some upstart GT500 run away from it in the quarter mile and will now be offering the 10-speed automatic on the Camaro ZL1 1LE as of February.

Previously manual-only, the ZL1 1LE automatic is 0.5 seconds faster through Chevy’s 2.9-mile Milford Proving Grounds test track than the 6-speed manual, according to the automaker.

That extra speed comes not just from faster shifts, but from the 10-speed’s wealth of gears. With it, the car can stay in the torque band for longer, making it faster not just in a straight line, but around corners, too.

ALSO SEE: The Last 8 Cars that Only Come with Manual Transmissions

That should help the ZL1 1LE fight the Mustang GT500, which recently made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the Camaro, though, it won’t even offer buyers the choice of a manual transmission — concession to speed over enjoyment.

To deal with the speedy shifts, Chevy has specially tuned the automatic’s DSSV dampers and added a special cooling duct for the steering box.

The electronic limited slip diff and the traction management system have also been changed to deal with the purpose-tuned 10-speed.

“This transmission is optimized for speed,” said Mark Dickens, the Camaro’s chief engineer, in a statement. “With unique Track Mode calibrations and 10 gears, you are always in the perfect gear when rolling on or off the throttle. You may not be a professional race car driver, but now you can shift like one.”

We probably shouldn’t read too heavily into this, but Chevrolet also, specifically mentions that the ZL1 1LE could be seconds faster than the manual on long tracks like the Nurburgring. Whether that means that it wants to set another time around the fearsome track (the manual has already posted a spritely 7:16.04) or that it just wanted to talk about a number more impressive than 0.5 seconds remains to be seen.

We should also express our gratitude for the fact that the 2019 Camaro ZL1 1LE retains the older (and better) pre-refresh exterior design.

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Sebastien Bell
Sebastien Bell

Sebastien is a roving reporter who covers Euros, domestics, and all things enthusiast. He has been writing about the automotive industry for four years and obsessed with it his whole life. He studied English at the Wilfrid Laurier University. Sebastien also edits for AutoGuide's sister sites VW Vortex, Fourtitude, Swedespeed, GM Inside News, All Ford Mustangs, and more.

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