TREND IN­TAKE

Motor Trend (USA) - - Contents - Michael Cantu MIKE CON­NOR

This month’s hot metal

As I exit a cor­ner with my foot nailed to the floor and all the nan­nies switched off, I can’t help but mut­ter to my­self, “So much grip.” The 2019 Chevro­let Ca­maro Turbo 1LE oozes it. It com­bines the 2.0-liter turbo-four and the wiz­ardry of the 1LE Per­for­mance pack­age, which is a thing of beauty even with this, the least pow­er­ful en­gine op­tion.

Pro­duc­ing 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the Turbo 1LE is not a straight­line speed brute. In­stead, it shines in the cor­ners. Dur­ing my time in our for­mer long-term 2016 Ca­maro SS, power over­steer was a worry when push­ing it hard through cor­ners. But this isn’t the case in the Turbo 1LE. I found my­self ea­gerly ap­ply­ing full throt­tle ex­it­ing cor­ners, not fear­ing the worst. Is it un­der­pow­ered? Or just right for some­one get­ting their first taste of pony-car thrills?

The $4,500 1LE pack­age gets you Ca­maro SS sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, in­clud­ing larger-di­am­e­ter front and rear sta­bi­lizer bars, uniquely tuned dampers, stiffer rear cra­dle bush­ings, and rear toe links de­signed to im­prove lat­eral stiff­ness. The good­ies con­tinue with 20-inch forged alu­minum wheels shod in Goodyear Ea­gle F1 sum­mer tires, a me­chan­i­cal limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, a track cool­ing pack­age, a short-throw shifter, an up­graded fuel sys­tem, and Tour­ing, Sport, and Track drive modes. Re­caro seats are a $1,595 op­tion.

To get us be­hind the wheel, Chevro­let in­vited us to drive a pic­turesque 60-mile route from Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton, to Ridge Mo­tor­sports Park, where a 16-turn, 2.47-mile road course was wait­ing for us. On the way there, the Turbo 1LE pro­vided good ride com­fort, bet­ter than the Ca­maro SS. The throws from the Tre­mec six-speed man­ual (the only avail­able trans­mis­sion) are short and pre­cise—a good thing be­cause I found my­self down­shift­ing when­ever I passed on the free­way due to the trans­mis­sion’s tall gears.

On the track, it’s hard to find many faults with the coupe. Al­most nonex­is­tent body roll pro­vides for crisp and con­fi­dent turn-in, and the chas­sis is rock-solid. Over- and un­der­steer al­most never hap­pened un­less pur­posely in­duced, some­thing that put a smile on my face the few times I did it. Steer­ing felt sim­i­lar to that of the SS, heavy but quite tele­pathic. The front four-pis­ton Brembo calipers bite hard and help bring the sports car to a stop from 60 mph in a Chevro­let-claimed 112 feet, not bad for a car weigh­ing at least 3,350 pounds.

The start­ing price of $30,995 is a per­for­mance bar­gain that could po­ten­tially turn the heads of hot-hatch buy­ers, Chevy’s rather sur­pris­ing tar­get mar­ket.

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