Traditionally, the Corvette has been the American rival to the Porsche 911 Carrera. However, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has proven to be a worthy adversary to other German coupes. Not to mention, in track-focused 1LE trim, being arguably the best muscle car on sale today. But what happens when the Porsche 911 Carrera S meets the Camaro ZL1 on the dragstrip? YouTube team Throttle House wanted to find out.
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S vs. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: specs
The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 are both rear-wheel-drive coupes. But that’s about where their similarities end.
The 2020 992-gen Porsche 911 Carrera S has a rear-mounted 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine, rated at 443 hp and 390 lb-ft. It comes standard with Porsche’s 8-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic, though a 7-speed manual is available, Car and Driver reports.
If you’re after maximum acceleration, the former transmission is the better choice. With the Sport Chrono Package’s launch control, the automatic 2020 911 Carrera S can go 0-60 in 3 seconds, Car and Driver reports. With the manual, that increases to 3.6 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
In contrast, the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has a front-mounted 6.2-liter supercharged V8. It makes 650 hp and 650 lb-ft and comes standard with a 6-speed manual. A 10-speed automatic, though, is also available.
As with the Porsche 911 Carrera S, the automatic is the faster-accelerating option. With it, the Camaro ZL1 goes 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, Car and Driver reports. Meanwhile, the manual ZL1 does it in 3.7 seconds, Car and Driver reports. Though unlike the automatic 911, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has standard launch control.
The Porsche 911 Carrera S’ Sport Chrono Package, which is standard on manual-equipped examples, has more than launch control, though. It also adds dynamic engine mounts, a limited-slip differential, a dash-mounted stopwatch, recalibrated stability control, and extra driving modes.
Crucially, those driving modes are adjusted by a steering-wheel-mounted dial. And since the 992 came out, it’s had a ‘Sport Response’ button, Cars.com reports. Pressing it triggers a kind of pseudo Sport Plus Mode. It sharpens the transmission response and lets the turbos go into an over-boost mode, FlatSixes reports. As the latter implies, it increases the boost pressure in the turbos for a brief shot of extra power, CarThrottle explains. In the Porsche 911 Carrera S’ case, it only lasts for 20 seconds.
The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has an active limited-slip differential, too, Top Gear reports, which is only available on automatic-equipped 911s. It also has its own performance-oriented traction control. But unlike the Porsche, it has standard active suspension, featuring magnetorheological dampers, and standard bolstered sport seats.
How the comparison went down
In previous Throttle House tests, the Sport Chrono-equipped 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S had proven a match for the C8 Corvette. Motor Trend reports that it’s entirely possible Porsche underrates the Carrera S—and that’s without the Sport Response button’s bonuses. So, Throttle House wanted to see just how much of a horsepower difference that button makes up for.
The hosts ran 2 types of tests. Both were ¼-mile drag races, but the first was from a standing start, while the second was a rolling race. Actually, Throttle House ran 2 standing-start races: one with launch control, and one without it. The latter is a better example of real-world behavior—after all, how often do you engage launch control at stoplights?
As for the rolling race, it takes the often-problematic launch out of the equation. Instead, it’s all about the cars’ transmission and engine tuning.
Did the Porsche 911 Carrera S or the Camaro ZL1 win?
Unfortunately for both cars, Throttle House ran its tests on a conventional-style road. That means no prepped dragstrip surface for maximum levels of grip and therefore short 0-60 times. Plus, while the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 can roughly match the Porsche 911 Carrera S’ 0-60 times, it weighs about 600 pounds more.
As a result, in all 3 races, the Porsche 911 Carrera S beat the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. However, in the latter 2 races, the ZL1 was almost even with the 911. So, while the Porsche is faster, without launch control, its lead drops.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 starts at $65,590 with the 10-speed automatic. In contrast, with only the Sport Chrono Package and sport suspension as options, the automatic 911 Carrera S costs $119,750.
Still, as Dom says, it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning’s winning.
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