Skip to main content

911 GT2 RS vs Camaro ZL1 1LE - Sweating the Details

Blasphemy!! Before you get your pitchforks, let's get two things straight first of all. Number 1, those two cars are not actually going to be cross shopped. I get that and don't mean to suggest that they would be. In fact, even for those people who can afford to buy several of either of those cars and would not turn their nose up a Chevy Camaro (they do exist), if any were to consider both those cars, they would not be looked at as alternatives, just two separate interesting cars. Number 2, stock vs stock, on the same day, same track, same (experienced) driver, the Camaro does not stand chance. Don't get me wrong, the Camaro ZL1 1LE is very impressive and supremely capable. More so when you consider the price. Even more so when you consider that this isn't like the last Z/28 or GT350R.

As much as all the aero bits would have you believe, one of the ZL1 1LE's goals was to retain full functionality. As a result, it doesn't lose any sound deadening. You get to keep your A/C, all the speakers, heated and cooled seats, the lot. You even still have rear seats! (Which are only useful for arguing with your better half that you got a family car.. ) And by now, you've probably also heard about its blistering Nurburgring lap time of 7:16.04. Which nicely takes us back to why it doesn't stand a chance against the GT2 RS. That astonishing lap time, which is so good it doesn't even require a "for a Camaro" qualifier, happens to be "only" two seconds quicker than a 997 (2010) 911 GT2 RS.. the last generation GT2 RS, and it's just over three seconds behind the 991.2 GT3. Forget the Camaro, if Porsche wanted its new 991 GT2 RS to beat the old one by only two seconds - or lose to the GT3 - on the 'Ring, it probably wouldn't have bothered building it.

So the intention of comparing them isn't to suggest they would go toe-to-toe - be it in the market or on track. Rather, it's to revel at how similar these two cars truly are in essence and how holistic the upgrades are to both, despite the vast obvious differences such as the image/prestige or design and, of course, engine location. For instance, both cars use forced induction. Both cars make big power. Both cars are based on much humble versions of themselves. Both cars use very big, very fat, barely street-legal R-comp tires. Both cars rely on big wings (spoilers) and plenty of modifications to put airflow to work. It gets more interesting when you take a look beneath the obvious similarities.


I'll start with the GT2 RS. The engine is based on the 3.8 litre, twin turbo, flat six from the Turbo S. Larger turbos and a new cooling system to reduce intake air temps result in 700 hp, a whopping 120 hp increase compared to the Turbo S and 80 more than the last GT2 RS, the 997. The cooling system sprays water on the intercoolers once intake air temps reach a certain setpoint, resulting in reduced temps under max boost. And a specifically developed titanium exhaust saves approximately 15 lb compared to that used on the 911 Turbo. Unlike the Turbo, though, the GT2 RS is RWD. And distributing that power is an excellent, electronically controlled, limited slip diff.

The Camaro follows the exact same engine sourcing strategy. It goes to the most powerful variant among its sisters - the ZL1 - and cribs its 6.2 litre, supercharged V8. Only here, the 1LE makes do with "only" 650 hp, the same amount of power lesser ZL1's make do with, but that's still 145 hp more than the last Z/28. Although the Z/28 and 1LE aren't directly comparable nameplates, Chevrolet touts this as the most extreme track-focused Camaro to date, and that was true for the last Z/28, so without a Z/28 currently in production, the last one is the closest comparison. Chevy doesn't mention additional engine cooling but the base ZL1 went for no-cost-spared approach to cooling, likely to future-proof powertrain for the 1LE and spread costs. The ZL1, as a result, comes with 11 heat exchangers, which - for those keeping track - is 1 more than legendary Bugatti Veyron when it debuted with 10. When Motor Trend tested the standard ZL1, they purposely looked for overheating issues after running into them with the Z06 with the same powertrain. After going through SIX sets of tires in just four days of testing, it never "so much as simmered." Once again like the GT2 RS, the ZL1 1LE is RWD and also uses an electronically controlled limited slip diff to distribute power between the rear wheels (if you want to learn a little about different kinds of differentials, you can read my post Limited Slip Differentials - The Basics).

Chassis & Suspension

Porsche says the new GT2 RS has exceptional cornering and dry grip, and I fully expect it to fulfill that promise. It uses the same tires as the GT3 RS and in the same tire and wheel sizes, which means steamroller rear 325/30/21 rear tires and 265/35/20 fronts. As you may have expected, every other aspect is addressed, including weight saving, aerodynamics, suspension, and brakes. There's plenty of carbon fibre components, prime of which are front trunk cover, rear engine cover, fenders, and rear air intakes, and an optional Weissach package uses more of it by replacing anti-roll bars and end links with replacements made of the stuff. The standard GT2 RS uses a magnesium roof but that optional package switches it to carbon fibre as well. The Weissach package also ditches the standard wheels for magnesium versions that are said to be 25 lb lighter, which help the package trim a total of almost 40 lb all together.

Outside, there are large front wheel well vents to reduce pressure buildup and lift. And Porsche seems to be quite proud of all the aerodynamic improvemtns, saying that large air intakes and outlets combined with the "striking rear wing underscore the emphasis on aerodynamics and down-force". And underscore the emphasis, they do! Brakes are, of course, Porsche's ceramic composite brakes and rear wheel steering carries over from the GT3 RS. And here's where it gets really interesting: Porsche makes no mention of PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system. It's possible it was left out, but that would be very unGerman. Why would it be interesting if it's not used? Because if it's not available, it would be another striking similarity to the Camaro in that regard.

The Camaro ditches the trademark adaptable magnetic shocks and uses instead Multimatic's Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers (DSSV or spool valves for short). The same type of dampers used on the last (5th gen) Z/28, which is also used on F1 cars, Mercedes-AMG Project One and the Ford GT. Those used here are an evolution of the ones used on the Z/28 and they're aluminum bodied to save weight. One very neat feature that Chevy built into it was using strut mounts that allow quick, on-the-fly camber adjustments by just jacking the front end, loosening a few bolts, and you have a range of up to -3.7 degrees camber. This is the kind of stuff aftermarket camber plates are for! Now, it's factory.

The Camaro also addresses the same (all) areas like the 911. Tires are just as wide in the back as the GT2 RS, measuring 325/30/19, but the fronts are much wider at 305/30/19 a pop, which makes perfect sense considering the Camaro's relatively huge front mass that has to be dealt with. Unlike the GT2 RS, which uses same tire size as the lesser GT3 RS, the ZL1 has the biggest meats of them all (Camaros), which is keeping in line with the conclusion of last year's feature that Chevy focuses on grip to make impressive lap times (Chevrolet - How do they do it? Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

Brembo brakes carry over from the ZL1, which still uses huge 15.4" front discs and 14.4" rear discs. Weight savings? Yea, there's some of that too, although nowhere near as aggressive as the 911. Lighter wheels, those aluminum bodied dampers, thinner rear glass, and a fixed back seat add up to approx. 60 lb. It's not much, but considering the standard ZL1 is just above 3,900 lb, this should bring the ZL1 1LE down well into the 3,800 lb range, and that sounds much better than "just under 4,000 lbs" (if still porky). In contrast, the 911 is a whopping 600 lb lighter, weighing in at 3,241 lb according to Porsche (just over 3,200 lb with the Weissach package).

And if the GT2 RS's inlets, outlets, and wing underscore its emphasis on aerodynamics, the Camaro's carbon fibre wing, front splitter, and dive planes shove its emphasis on aerodynamics in your face. There is no subtly to the either car, but there's cohesiveness and flow (or at least familiarity) to the 911's looks, where's the Camaro's front end just looks like a mad track build instead of a factory car. Chevy says they're good for 300 lb. at 150 mph, which should be dwarfed by the GT2 RS. I can't find info on it, but the 991 GT3 RS makes 622 lb at 150 mph. Expect more from the GT2 RS.

The Bottom Line
.. as I mentioned early on, is that the 911 GT2 RS will be far more capable. Aero and power alone should be a dead giveaway, then through in a 600 lb weight penalty for the Camaro and it's done for. But like I said at the beginning, the point isn't to suggest that these two are close. It's to celebrate how far mainstream car makers have come in embracing the track car market. You could buy a $70k Camaro that, when it comes to track prep from the factory, has received the same attention and complete transformation that a $300,000+ 911 did, even if outright performance numbers are lower.

Note: I wrote most of this article before any ZL1 1LE was tested, just never had a chance to finish it, unfortunately, so a couple of updates are in order. The ZL1 1LE was tested at 3,842 lb by Car and Driver, as assumed in the article. As for lap times, there are also unconfirmed reports that the GT2 RS went around the 'Ring in under 7:00, with one rumour of a sub 6:50 time.. so expect the GT2 RS to be at least 20-25 seconds ahead of the Camaro's already very impressive lap time. What a MACHIIIIINE! (in the truest Jeremy Clarkson impression).


Popular posts from this blog

2020 Porsche 992 (911) Details

Unlike the new 2019 3-series that was officially revealed by BMW, the anticipated 2020 Porsche 992 (911) has not been officially revealed yet. But that doesn't mean a lot about it isn't known already. In a recent prototype drive by Car and Driver, Porsche discussed a lot of the changes. This update is very important in my opinion because the next 911 may have its work cut out for it judging by what we know about the upcoming mid-engine Corvette. The 911 vs Corvette rivalry is nothing new, spanning decades. While there has been very significant and revolutionary changes to the 911 - including switching from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, losing hydraulic power steering, and recently an all turbocharged lineup (short of the GT3) - none have been as revolutionary as the Corvette's planned change to switch from front engine to mid engine layout. So what is the next 911 coming going to be armed with? There are a bunch of changes, although most are just incremental but one…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 (Links: +Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1 & Part 2), I concluded that grip is where Chevys excel and decided to try and figure out how they do that by looking at test data from Car and Driver's Lightning Lap features. The first thing that stood out to me when the 5th generation Camaro 1LE came out was the wider tires compared to the Mustang Track Pack of the time and even the Boss 302. The tires on the ZL1 and Z/28 stood out as much.. only on those, they stood out compared to just about anything that isn't a supercar. So I decided to start looking there; tire sizes.

To evaluate tire sizes, I calculated a weight-to-tire-section ratio for each car. Similar to the idea of power to weight ratio, where the number tells you how much weight each hp is burdened with, this tells you how much weight each mm of tire section is burdened with, so to speak. For example, a BMW M235i weighs 3,490 lb, as tested during the LL feature. It has 225/…

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads. Combine that with the fact that I drive a good amount on the street during the summer, and I was very worried that they wouldn't last more than a handful of…

Street vs. Track Driving Tips

I haven’t done a post like this in quite a while so I figured it’s time to do one. I have someone helping me for this one, though. Meet Bridget Rebecca. Bridget is a bit more sensible than you'd have to be to waste as much on track driving as I do, but why would you need two track rats working on one post? You've got the best one right here (Kidding!). She's a real gear head, though. If you don't believe me, she's got a pretty good rap sheet. She owns a manual car. That car has a V8 in the front and sends power to the back. Manual, front engine, V8, and RWD, right out of the sports car gospel. She also drives that car in the winter. Did I mention that the car is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage? The same car that won the 2005 Top Gear Award for Best Noise of the Year. Told you she's a gear head.

This isn't her first gig. She's got her own Tribe under her name on DriveTribe and they recently sent her down to SEMA 2018 to provide coverage for the show. She…

Focus RS vs Rallycross

If you've read my last post - The Ram's Eye is going Rallycross - you already know that I'm starting rallycross this season for the first time. I started high performance driving 7 years ago in 2011 but have never strayed away from tarmac/asphalt. Living in Canada - which rightfully earns the name 'The Great White North' - means that I had to suffer serious speed withdrawals during the track off-season; that typically lasts from the middle of October to the middle of May. But there is a treatment for people with my condition and it has been available locally for nearly 20 years.

I went to my first event this past Sunday and spoke to a few of the seasoned rallycross veterans. I was told that local speed freaks started organizing rallycross events for that very reason around 1999; to get their speed fix during the winter. It took off a few years later around the 2001-2002 winter season and nobody looked back. I found out about those local rallycross events a couple …

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…