The battle for American sports car supremacy is definitely heating up and burning rubber. Hot on the heels of Ford’s recent unveiling of the 2013 Mustang, General Motors has announced their own contender to the Mustang Boss 302, the 2013 Camaro 1LE.
The rivalry between the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang dates back over 40 years. And that rivarly doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The Camaro 1LE will look to battle it out with the Mustang Boss 302 when it’s released later this fall.
Now usually in the auto industry more is, well, more and the bigger the numbers the better. However, the Camaro 1LE is looking to keep one of its numbers intentionally lower than its main competitor, Ford, and its brawny Boss 302 Mustang.
According to GM, the Camaro 1LE will feature 426 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque and 1G of lateral acceleration, with base pricing starting under $40,000. That’s slightly lower than a 2012 Mustang Boss 302, which starts around $40,310. Of course the Boss 302 pumps out a hefty 444 horsepower, beating the Camaro in that department.
That doesn’t mean the 1LE won’t be able to take the battle to the Boss, though. And it’s clear Chevy is looking to take an all encompassing approach with the latest Camaro.
“The Camaro 1LE combines the best elements of the SS and ZL1 to take road-racing performance to a whole new level,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “That the 1LE breaks the three-minute lap at VIR [Virginia International Raceway] puts it in the upper echelon of performance cars. That it starts under $40,000 makes the Camaro 1LE one of the most affordable, most capable track-day cars offered by any manufacturer.”
In addition to the Camaro’s aggressive pricing and improvements to its mill, the 2013 1LE features a number of aerodynamic tweaks to both the front splitter and rear spoiler. Improvements to the Camaro’s handling have been taken into account too, with the 1LE incorporating monotube rear dampers for optimal body-motion control and ride quality. The drive ratio has been enhanced as well, with the Camaro 1LE featuring an exclusive Tremec six-speed manual gearbox with 3.91 final drive, which Chevy says is “tuned for road-racing performance.”
The desire from Chevrolet for the Camaro 1LE to be track-day ready is quite clear. On top of additional front 27-mm solid sway bars, and 28-mm rear sway bars, there are improvements aimed at track enthusiasts include higher capacity rear-axle shafts for increased levels of traction, a tighter strut tower brace to improve handling responsiveness, and as well as a high-capacity fuel pump and pickups (focused on delivering a constant flow of fuel during hard cornering) borrowed from the ZL1. Not to mention General Motors is currently pursuing SCCA approval to get the 1LE package in the Touring Class competition – serious stuff.
Visually, the 1LE distinguishes itself with a matte-black hood, 10 spoke ZL1-based black wheels, and signature aggressive Camaro design language.
On the inside, the 1LE borrows from the ZL1 again with a flat-bottom steering wheel engineered for “easier heel-and-toe driving on the track.”
With the release of the 1LE track package, GM has demonstrated its desire to steal some thunder from Ford’s Boss 302, but the question remains: will the 1LE be able to best the Boss both on the track and off? Given the specs, it’s not likely. The Boss 302 still has some performance advantages over the Camaro 1LE, but the Camaro’s aggressive pricing might be too good to pass up for buyers looking for an affordable race-track experience.