The Gen Six Chevy Camaro underwent significant changes before it appeared in 2016. Weight was slashed, structural rigidity was improved, and a new five-link independent rear suspension was introduced. Under the hood, the 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 answers with 6.2 L LT4 engine.
The supercharged power plant is estimated at 640 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque.
Relaying that power is a unique 10-speed automatic from GM’s Hydra-Matic family – the first mass-produced automatic transmissions, placed in Cadillac and Oldsmobile vehicles in 1940. In similar fashion, the 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is expected to be the first volume production car to offer a 10-speed automatic.
“There is simply nothing like the experience offered with the new 10-speed automatic in the Camaro ZL1,” said Aaron Link, ZL1 Lead Development Engineer. “It delivers nearly instantaneous, lightning-fast shifts that alter your perception of what an automatic transmission can offer in a high-performance vehicle – whether you’re on the street, drag strip, or road course.”
Acceleration is enhanced by a first gear ratio of 4.70, while smaller steps between gears build and maintain power. A numerically lower top gear ratio provides more efficient higher speed driving, like on the interstate.
“The gear ratios are so tightly spaced that the transmission is in the right gear and the engine is at the best rpm for transitions from corners to straights,” Link said.
The 10-speed Hydra-Matic runs on a newly optimized, proprietary electronic system, with additional calibrations, tailored for high performance. The electronics, along with a new torque converter, give drivers an edge.
“It’s a much more involving experience for the driver that really helps improve confidence and performance on the track,” Link said. “You touch the paddle and the gear changes with immediacy.”
Since weight reduction was key during development of the Gen Six Camao, creative “packaging” ensued. For example, the 10-speed automatic runs an additional clutch, not found on the Hydra-Matic 8-speed transmission. Unnecessary weight and size was avoided by four simple gearsets and six clutches: two brake clutches and four rotating clutches. With that layout, only one more clutch than the 8-speed is used, despite two more forward gears.
Spin losses are reduced with only two non-applied clutches. Friction is mitigated with an ultra-low viscosity fluid, while an internal thermal bypass helps the transmission warm up faster.
The advanced engineering, in-depth testing, and hours upon hours of development translate to one thing. For Link, it’s what the 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 and its 10-speed Hydra-Matic transmission do best.
“The force you feel in your seat as you accelerate out of a turn will put a grin on your face every time,” he said.
The video below shows more.
GM’s propulsion manufacturing facility in Romulus, Michigan builds the Hydra-Matic 10-speed. GM committed $323 million to the plant, which employs 850 hourly and salaried workers.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.