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.