2019 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE: a New Camaro on the Track

Strong points
  • Improved dynamics
  • Very good manual gearbox
  • Efficient braking
  • New look
Weak points
  • Same engine as the Camaro Turbo
  • Atrocious outward visibility
  • Symbolic rear seats
  • Trunk space
Full report

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – 2019 will see a new addition to the family as the Camaro Turbo 1LE is introduced. We took this newbie for a quick spin on a circuit near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A few laps in a car still camouflaged to mask the forthcoming restyling isn’t much, but it was enough to assess the Camaro Turbo 1LE’s dynamics and handling.

For starters, note that the new 1LE version has the same engine as the Camaro Turbo, namely a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that develops 275 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3000 rpm. In the Camaro Turbo 1LE, the only available gearbox is a six-speed manual with a “no-lift shift” mode that allows you to change gears without lifting your foot off the accelerator, as well as launch control.

On the tight circuit where we did the test drive, we negotiated all corners in second or third gear. The engine is relatively torquey and turbo lag is minimal, but on the track, it doesn’t have the brawn of the V6, much less the V8. Although the engineers explained to us that the engine has been reworked on the Turbo 1LE to make it louder, my emotions were left unstirred with the 2.0-litre at wide-open throttle. However, we give it high marks for the quick-action stick shift and the good pedal positioning to facilitate the heel-and-toe technique.

Dynamics are what set the Turbo 1LE apart. It has an FE3 suspension, a firmer shock rate and larger-diameter front and rear anti-roll bars. Tire size is P245/40R20 up front and P275/35R20 in back. Brembo brakes complete the package.

Photo: Chevrolet

On the circuit, the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE demonstrated slightly superior dynamics compared to the conventional Camaro Turbo, which boasts nearly 50/50 weight distribution anyway. That’s an excellent starting point. The Turbo 1LE enters corners with precision and, more importantly, it’s easy to make slight corrections to the trajectory by modulating the throttle.

For example, by lifting your foot slightly when entering a corner, the car reacts instantly while the front end points a little more toward the apex, but the chassis’ reactions always remain predictable, suggesting good weight balance. I even deliberately attacked a few rumble strips in the middle of some corners to see how the car would respond, but it was not overly unsettled by it. Moreover, our test car’s Recaro seats offered sufficient lateral support without being restrictive and the suede flat-bottom steering wheel is comfortable.

That’s the new Camaro Turbo 1LE in a nutshell. It arrives at a time when the entire lineup is undergoing a style makeover aimed at giving each variant its own unique visual identity. That means that even though the LS, LT, RS and SS have distinctive design elements, they are all unquestionably Camaros. There’s a new design for the hood as well as larger front fascia intakes to improve aerodynamics and engine cooling. The rear ends have also undergone some cosmetic touch-ups, as have the red taillights on the LS and LT and the darker paint on the RS, SS and ZL1 versions.

For 2019, all versions of the Camaro come standard with the new Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system, and the Camaro SS will come with a 10-speed automatic gearbox with wheel-mounted shifter paddles and launch control.

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