Why The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Uses Different Tires In Australia10
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.
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So it is safer to have a car capable of very high limits of handling on tires unable to handle those limits than to have a tire lock up on a we tile with the other on dry asphalt?
Is someone trying to smoke some dried vegemite?
I’ve seen many roads get paved with tile, it’s not even funny. I think the Pikes Peak hill climb is half tile… / sarcasm /
I do wonder how many buyers of the ZL1 in Australia (or elsewhere, for that matter) actually push it to the limit of adhesion..
Either way, it seems silly. If the Camaro is sold with the GoodYear F1s in the U.S., it should be good to be sold that way in Australia (and in every other market globally). If the owner wants better wet or icy road traction, then s/he should simply swap the tires on their own accord to what’s necessary for their climate.
Brick streets are close!
Yes if a car is designed and tuned to a specific tire it is best to supply it with that tire or better.
This is like running track in dress shoes.
Maybe those folks down Under should pave The whole lane with concrete or asphalt. Do not use ceramic tiles for half a lane. That’s just weird.
A great many roads outside metropolitan areas have a gravel verge next to the road. If you need to move onto this area under heavy braking( an animal jumps out in front of you) it would be nice not to suddenly find yourself facing the wrong direction. By the time this car gets to Aus, it will cost around 90 – 100 thousand dollars(Yes, I’m aware we get ripped off). Most of them will never see a track and may well be someone’s only car. It’s a small compromise to make a huge difference in safety.
Spot on Matt, however, pricing starts at AU$160, 000 for the manual and $2200 extra for the auto.
The continental tire is a better as an all round tire than the Goodyear track tire. the HSV import runs wider tires in Australia so the grip levels are very similar to the narrower Goodyear Tires. when the road gets wet from rain, that does happen downunder, you can still have fun on a wet road. the Goodyear tires performance means you need to park the car if its raining. sound similar to the old BF Goodrich radial TA. touch the brakes on a wet road and around you go.
US and Australian roads are different. Matt summed it up nicely (gravel roadway shoulders) and that is precisely why Australia has location specific design rules (ADR). Some roads have different contruction profiles, and having used them under hard braking, the better performing tyres are gold.
HSV are very smart engineers and know the local market and roads. The Conties are great rubber and should compliment the ZL1 very nicely.
Aussies are bereft of a hero muscle car and the Camaro fills that gap. Unfortunately, huburus GM chooses not too manufacture in RHD. The HSV conversion is great but the sticker price keeps me out of the market.
Well, even for some parts of the US it would make sense, and I for one would not quite be in love with buying a new car to just spend more on new tires, tint, and all the extra goodies to do on a new car. Down in Florida where it typically rains daily during the summer months, I find it important to have tires with excellent water/wet performance.
Here is the reality. Most of these cars are not often used as daily drivers. If snow and rain are an issue people by the SS or similar car.
Also with the electronics then are still very drivable in the rain.
There are some really screwy rules in every country and most have more than one.
Also down under things can vary by region. Out in the west I have customers still with LHD. I asked how they get away with it and they said it is not enforced in their area. Not many around so the law enforcement folks don’t say a word.