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5 Minutes With Matt Scrase, Engineering Manager For The Performance Camaro Variants

7 questions on the new 2017 Camaro 1LE

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Left is the SS V8 1LE and right is the all new V6 1LE. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Ever since I saw the debut of the 2017 Camaro 1LE at the Chicago Auto Show, I was instantly attracted. As specs on the changes became available, it only furthered my resolve on just how amazing this car is going to be.

I had always been impressed by the previous 5th Gen 1LE. For as big, heavy, and wide as it was, it put many vastly more expensive and prestigious cars to shame on the track. Especially when you factored in that the 5th Gen Camaro 1LE was a skunkworks project and was never planned until they saw how potent it was on the track. That being said, the new 6th Gen Camaro 1LE, with over 9 million hours of computer modeling, performed by some 140 structural engineers, is much more than just a reskinned 5th Gen.

Most all of you reading this know the specs on both the V8 and V6 1LE. For those that do not, click here to find out the details.

We were able to connect with Matt Scrase, GM’s engineering manager for the Camaro Performance Variants. I would like to thank Tara Kuhnen for helping to facilitate this interview. Much appreciated!

These questions will focus on things I have observed from various launch videos, as well as questions I haven’t seen asked in interviews on the subject. Now, I’m sure if there is something you want answered but don’t see it below, we can try and get some follow up questions. Otherwise, enjoy.

 

The questions are as follows:

1. In both the promo photos as well as the SS 1LE at the Chicago Auto Show, I was able to have someone (Thanks Jeff Thisted!) confirm that the HUD, or Heads Up Display, was equipped on the vehicle (I was unable to confirm on the V6 1LE, but it looks like it was there in the promo photos as well). Can you confirm that either one of the 1LE versions would have this as part of the package? Or at the very least, be an option? Talking on the forums, this was kind of the icing on the cake for a lot of prospective buyers (myself included), and I could really see the benefit of having the Heads Up Display for track work.

Matt – For the V6 1LE, you can get the HUD as part of the technology package upgrade. For the SS 1LE, the HUD is standard.

 

2. I couldn’t help but notice that there was a staggered setup on the V8 1LE. Why no square set up like previously found on the 5th Gen 1LE? Is it to build in a little bit of understeer for safety reasons? What are the rim widths front and rear?

Matt – Actually, because the 6th gen has better front to rear weight balance, we were able to deliver a better handling characteristic with the staggered set up. The wheel widths are:

  • V6 – Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40R20 front tires and 275/35R20 rear tires.
  • V8 –  Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with 285/30ZR20 front tires and 305/30ZR20 rear tire

 

3. Tell me more about the E-Diff. It seems like a huge benefit to the 1LE and not many people are talking about it.  How does it differ from the Z51 version found on the Corvette Stingray? Does this E-Diff help allow you to run a staggered step without normal repercussions? 

Matt – It is the same system as the Z51, but obviously tuned specifically for use in Camaro. The eLSD has incredible benefit for turn in response and acceleration. For turn in, by “opening” the diff, you can get very crisp, quick turn in response from the steering wheel. For acceleration, “closing” the diff enables you to put power down under acceleration, while virtually eliminating its rear-wheel peel.

 

4. I have seen some articles quote you saying the V8 1LE is 3 seconds faster around Big Willow than the previous 5th Gen 1LE. And I have seen quotes stating it is 3 seconds faster than the current 6th Gen SS on the same track. Which is it? The Current SS or the 5th Gen 1LE?  Have you benchmarked it against the 5th Gen Z/28 on the same track?

Matt – Yes, there have been several misquotes. Just to clarify, the 1LE is 3 seconds faster at Big Willow than a current Camaro SS (1SS, manual transmission, magnetic ride suspension). In previous tests, the new Camaro SS was doing comparable lap times to the previous 1LE, which is where some of the confusion is coming from. We are not ready to share specific lap times or other comparisons as we are still completing our final validation testing, and expect to get even better lap times from the 1LE.

 

5. Now I know that the LT1 in the Camaro was sourced from the Stingray Corvette but the dry sump system was left out. I assume for cost purposes or maybe fitment? Has the extra lateral G’s associated with the 1LE been taken in to consideration on this?

Matt – Yes, of course we consider lateral loads with every vehicle we develop. The biggest difference between Corvette and Camaro is the engine in the Corvette is much lower to the ground, requiring a dry sump to deliver engine oil at very high cornering loads. 

 

6. One thing I noticed that differs from the last gen 1LE is a lack of a strut tower brace. Was this intentional or not needed?

Matt – The 1LE does not have a tower-to-tower strut brace, because it’s not really necessary for that application to meet our ride and handling performance targets.

 

7Last Question, what are your thoughts on Ford’s move to take away the Track Pack as an option and being made standard on the GT350 as of 2017? Do you think they have taken notice of the potency of the 1LE?

Matt – We’ll ask you to contact Ford on why they’re doing it. For the Camaro team, we feel that the 1LE package will deliver the best track performance levels you can get for the money. 

 

Now, let me put some of these figures in prospective for you. Motor Trend did a Head to Head with the new 2016 Camaro SS (2SS, 6 speed manual and magnetic ride) against a 2015 BMW M4 on the Streets of Willow (1.55 mile course) at Willow Springs, CA. The Camaro ran a 1:23.15 vs the M4 at 1:22.94. The previous 5th Gen 1LE ran a 1:22.70 on the same course by the same driver back in 2012. Now taking into consideration that the 2017 Camaro 1LE is 3 seconds faster than the 2016 Camaro SS, that is going to put it in a whole other league! I know, it was 3 seconds faster on Big Willow, a 2.5 mile course and times between cars seem to be a more accurate representation on a road course of 2 miles or longer but I am going on what I have available to me for facts. (Sorry, you have to have Motor Trend on Demand to view this particular Head to Head).

 

So, here are some lap time records for Streets of Willow. I will let you make your own conclusions. I am only going to put some interesting cars and their times for comparison.

Track record holders for fastest car around Streets of Willow to date, a 1.55 mile course, are listed below. The driver is Randy Pobst.

Nissan GT-R (R35)……………………….1:19.07

Corvette Z06 (Z07 package)…………..1.20.43

Porsche Cayman GT4…………………….1:21.74

Audi R8 V10 5.2 FSI Plus……………….1:21.90

Ferrari 458 Italia…………………………..1:22.30

2012 Camaro 1LE………………………….1:22.70

BMW M2……………………………………..1:22.73

BMW M4……………………………………..1:22.94

2016 Camaro SS……………………………1:23.15

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S…………..1:24.85

While I don’t think you can necessarily just subtract 3 seconds off of the above 2016 Camaro SS’ lap time and conclude that is what the new 1LE will be, it gives you an idea. After all, even though the weather at Willow Springs is fairly consistent, you have to factor it in, along with ambient conditions, driver (which I only listed Randy Pobst times) and above all, the 3 seconds faster was on the Big Willow course (a 2.5 mile road course versus Streets of Willow which is 1.55 miles). One thing you can pretty much guarantee, though, is the new 1LE should be MUCH faster than a Ferrari 458 italia! That’s saying something!

Let me know your thoughts. I, for one, can not wait to get behind the wheel of this wonderful machine!

 

 

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A view most track day enthusiasts can expect to see when on course with the new 1LE. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet
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Both 1LE variants shown together. V6 in green and V8 in black. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Written by Jason Brackett

Jason Brackett

I've been addicted to power and speed ever since the first time my head got pushed back into the seat under acceleration. I grew up with an affinity for engines and the arts, blending them together into my passions. Photography, writing and motorsports.

I've traveled the country in pursuit of my passions and paid the price with my health. I'm a living marvel of modern medicine and a beacon of the human spirit.

I was down and out for sometime but now, I'm back! With new hips, a slightly shorter digestive track and a drive to further my own ability.

I'm from Maine. I have a small farm with 57 acres in the foothills of the White Mountains. I have a beautiful wife with a little girl, 2 dogs, one cat, ten chickens, and garage space to build something terrifyingly awesome.

So ya, I'm living my American Dream.

I don't particularly care for long walks on the beach
Sunsets are cool but I prefer the smell of race fuel.
One of my favorites songs is the sound of a Audi five cylinder at 9000 RPMs under wide open throttle, spitting hellfire and brimstone between gears. That always puts a smile on my face.

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