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The sports coupe comes in many forms. From small, lightweight go-karts to the ostentatious Dodge Challenger, the concept of a sports car can match almost any personality. Two of the more well-received sports cars of late are the BMW M4 and Chevy Camaro ZL1. Each has their strong points, but how do these two icons rank head-to-head? We dove through the charts to find out.

A bright red Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE smashes fastest production car records at the Nürburgring.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE | General Motors

Outright power gives the Camaro ZL1 an edge over the BMW M4

Under the hood, the differences between these two coupes is immediately apparent. The BMW M4 uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six developing 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the Camaro ZL1 gets its grunt from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 monster. This setup delivers 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque along with an ear-splitting exhaust note that will make anyone look twice. Sure, half of those looking may hate you for it, but then again there’s no such thing as bad press, is there?

Looking at those numbers, it’s easy to think that the Camaro would easily monster the BMW M4 when the lights turn green. Not so. The 10-speed automatic Camaro ZL1 sprints to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The manual version of the M4 takes just 0.4 seconds to reach the same pace. With an eight-speed auto box, the M4 requires less than three seconds to meet highway speeds.

There’s no doubt that the Camaro ZL1 sounds better than the M4, but on outright pace, the two are almost identical.

Track times tell the full story

A BMW M4 CSL on a racetrack

The classic American muscle car trope is that they are only good in a straight line. The Chevy Camaro ZL1 is here to dispel that notion with a waft of precisely-controlled tire smoke. A lap of the Nurburgring took the ZL1 7:29.60, putting it in some seriously rarified air for a road-going car.

The BMW M4 with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic lapped the ‘ring almost exactly one second faster. But considering the raucous torque and rear-drive setup of the Camaro, the M4’s time starts to look a bit less impressive.

Daily driving the BMW M4 and Chevy Camaro ZL1

If you’re the type of person that wants a versatile sports coupe, the M4 has an edge over the Camaro. Trunk space in the BMW measures 12 cubic feet, while the ZL1 has just nine cubes available. Passenger space tells a similar story, with more overall cabin room in the BMW according to Car and Driver.

And considering their engine differences, it should come as no surprise that the M4 is also less thirsty than the ferocious Camaro. At 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, it handly surpasses the 13/21 EPA rating for the Chevy.

The verdict? Choose what makes you happy

In truth, the difference between the BMW M4 and Camaro ZL1 lie largely in their respective experiences. Precision steering, refinement, and subtlety are in the BMW’s wheelhouse. But for those who want something shouty, definitive, and defiant, the Camaro ZL1 delivers with a flourish.

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