The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a true animal of a sports car. With 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque on tap thanks to the supercharged 6.2L LT4 V8 under the hood, the ZL1 needs oodles of gummy rubber underneath it to put it all to good use. As such, the U.S.-spec Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 comes equipped with ultra-high-performance Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires, plus even-stickier Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires on the go-faster ZL1 1LE trim. However, over in Australia, the Camaro ZL1 gets an entirely different tire compound with a significantly lower performance threshold.
When the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is imported by HSV into Australia (GM doesn’t sell the Camaro in that market), the Aussies immediately swap in Continental ContiSportContact 5P tires, the same compound used on HSV-spec Commodores and various VF vehicles.
HSV still offers the Goodyear tires as part of a track package that sells for $1,000 (AUS), but it makes us wonder why the Aussie-spec Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 doesn’t run the U.S.-spec Goodyear tires.
According to a report from whichcar, the Goodyear rubber actually failed a standard braking test under the Australian Design Rules. Apparently, the test involves differing grip levels between either side of the vehicle.
“When the right and left wheels of the vehicles are situated on surfaces with differing coefficients of adhesion, […] the directly controlled wheels shall not lock when the full force is suddenly applied on the control device at a speed of 50 km/h.”
Basically, this means the wheels can’t lock up under full braking at 31 mph (50 km/h) when the right and left tires have different amounts of grip, or else they fail. And that’s exactly what happened with the standard Goodyear rubber.
Interestingly, the test is conducted with dry pavement on one side of the vehicle and wet ceramic tiles on the other.
According to the report, an HSV spokesman addressed the issue, saying “Our chassis engineers assessed three different brands for greater suitability to Australian conditions. Using a combination of GM’s Lang Lang Proving Grounds and Victoria’s alpine roads, all aspects of the Conti tire were assessed (including steering, handling and ride quality) to understand their suitability to the ZL1 Camaro.”
“Our engineers concluded that they feature excellent connection to the road and on-center feel and provided excellent feedback through the chassis and steering on the sportiest of roads,” the spokesman added. “Importantly, they also provide wet-weather performance and safety in variable weather conditions.”
That last bit, the one about the wet-weather performance, is probably the most important part of the statement. While the Goodyear tires are phenomenal on the track, they offer less grip in the wet compared to the Continental tires.
According to tirerack.com, the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 features an “Extreme Performance Summer” compound with a rating of 9.3 (“Excellent”) in Dry Performance, but a rating of 5.7 (“Fair”) in Wet Performance. By contrast, the Continental ContiSportContact 5P is a “Max Performance Summer” compound with a rating of 8.6 (“Excellent”) in Dry Performance and 8.0 (“Good”) in Wet Performance.
For reference, the U.S.-spec ZL1’s meats measure in at 285/30ZR20 in front and 305/30ZR20 in the rear, while on the ZL1 1LE, the rubber measures in at 305/30R19 in front and 325/30R19 in the rear.
The Aussies’ wet/dry test is an odd one, to be sure. After all, how often do drivers experience such wildly differing grip levels between the right and left tires, while stomping on the brakes? Luckily, U.S. buyers get the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in its full, unmolested form with maximum dry-condition performance – as intended. In that regard, we can’t help but wonder if all this could be avoided if GM/Chevrolet were to offer the Camaro in Australia in a first-party sort of way.
Still, we suspect the Contis can still do a wicked skid over there in Aussie-land.