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Old 06-14-2019, 02:36 AM   #1
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2018 Camaro SS 1LE vs Spuds' FRS

So I passed up the opportunity to drive my friendís 2018 Camaro SS 1LE Ö said no-one ever. For anyone who isnít aware of the Camaro Iím talking about, the SS trim comes with the 6.2L V8 engine, and the 1LE means this comes with the track performance package. Wheels, tires, brakes, LSD, exhaust, suspension, chassis, aero, and interior are all significantly upgraded in pursuit of speed and driving enjoyment. I wound up being able to drive the Camaro and my FRS back-to-back because, well, why not?

Spudís Car: 2013 FRS, MT
-OFT stage1 + intake stuff
-RPF1s with (<500mile) Yokohama Advan V105 215/45
-Perrin Brake MC brace + Shifter Bushing
-Clutch slave mod
-Rear seat delete

Friendsís Car: 2018 Camaro SS 1LE
-Stock
-Has 3 pedals, like it should

For this comparison, Im going to focus on the driving experience, setting aside all practicality, upkeep, efficiency, and cost concerns. The driving experience includes interior comfort, control feel, chassis behavior, performance, and other sensations such as sound and feedback. The environment for this evaluation is rural PA winding back roads through rolling hills, forest, and farmland. For anyone who thinks that I am stacking the deck in the FRSís favor, here is the foil. In terms of driving experience, the Camaro is the better car.


Seating Position, Visibility, Interior:
The Camaroís upgraded Recaro seats are very comfortable and I think the driving position I found in 15 seconds is just slightly better than the FRS. I put that down as better steering wheel placement (closer to me and higher). And then I looked in the mirrors, and laughed. The car actually has good visibility in the 180 degrees in front of you considering the high belt and low roof. However, my guess is that the engineers and designers at GM assumed no Camaro driver would care about seeing what is behind them.

One of the more surprising elements in this comparison was just how strange the FRS felt when I got back in it after driving the Camaro. In the Camaro, you are deep inside the car, looking out of the car through a horizontal slit. When looking forwards, I saw the dashboard, followed by the hood, followed by the road. In the FRS, while one is definitely still in the car, it is less noticeable. Looking out the windshield, you just see the road and two little bumps to show you where your wheels are located. Both cars give a good field of view around the horizontal plane, but the FRS has a much better visibility vertically. Iím fairly certain this is how Toyoburu got the twins to feel fast, as the road seems to move by quicker when the part you are seeing is closer to you.

Interior-wise, they are both good driverís cars as all controls are positioned appropriately. The Camaro has higher quality materials, but thatís not surprising. I didnít try out the radio in the Camaro, but the auxiliary gas-powered sound system is excellent .


Suspension, Handling, Controls:
Except for short stints in Track and Touring modes to try them out, I drove the Camaro in Sport mode. Sport mode is the right call IMO for street driving. My FRSís nannies have been shoved in a deep hole somewhere, never to be let loose again (all off).

I wasnít expecting to say this, but the Camaro *1LE*ís (and thatís the important part here) handling is phenomenal. There is of course, the obvious handling performance you get from just the ridiculously sticky 285 and 305 width tires, but that isnít what I am talking about here. The magnetic ride control suspension and chassis tuning on this car makes you forget that it weighs as much as a crossover (3750lb). On turn in, there isnít any shifting of weight or waiting for it to take a set. It just goes in the direction you point it, then glides over imperfections and bumps, communicating them through steering feel, but isolating the chassis completely. The Camaroís steering was actually more communicative than the FRSís (gasp! right?), and the brakes were very confidence-inspiring, though I prefer the slightly firmer pedal in the FRS.

The FRS, on the other hand, has a rawness to it that demands more driver focus for similar pace, if possible. Road features that a Camaro driver can usually ignore, such as bumps or sudden camber changes, will cause the FRS to become unsettled if the driver is inattentive to them. Like the chassis, the FRS driver needs to be on-edge, while the Camaro driver can relax and enjoy the drive. The Camaroís competence is a double-edged sword however, as simply driving quickly on back roads can become trivial. More than once I looked at the speed and was a bit shocked at how fast I was driving.

Shifting gears (pun intended), the clutch pedal on the Camaro is absolute garbage. I get that it has to actuate a big-boy pressure plate, but the throw is excessive and vague. Itís far worse than the FRSís was, even stock. As for the shifters, both the Camaroís and FRSís have precise, short throws. I think the Camaro had a shorter throw with better defined gates, but was let down by the clutch so much that my shifts were always slow. But the auto-rev matching downshifts were pretty damn cool. Really good idea in the Camaro, though the FRS is better off without it due to the type of car it is.

With regards to handling, the FRS is like a dancer. Itís athletic, precise, nimble, and delivers an experience to those that appreciate that art. The Camaro is more like a football running back or receiver. It is also athletic, precise, and nimble, but more purposeful and directed towards a clear goal.


The Go Pedal:
Alright, here it is, the elephant in the room. The Camaro is not just fast, but effortlessly fast. I already mentioned that I often had to check my speed, not realizing how fast it was. You press the pedal, and it goes. You press harder, it goes faster. You downshift and floor it, it gives you a concussion. Going back to the FRS, it felt like I was standing still even running it out in 2nd gear. However, the Camaro left me wanting more out of the top end, where the FRS actually does well. It must have lost nearly an FRSís worth of torque between 5krpm and the 6.5-ish redline, which felt a bit anticlimactic to me. But that midrange thoÖ

Throttle response is good in both cars. I think the FRSís initial response is slightly quicker on average.

I cannot express in words the sound the Camaro makes. The 1LE package includes dual-mode exhaust and in loud mode, oh boy is it loud in all the right ways. I think Iím actually suffering from V8 withdrawal. The FRS engine note isÖ well, I guess I could LS swap it.


Summary:
At the beginning of this comparison, I expressed that the Camaro is the better car, and I stand by this. It is more comfortable, faster, sounds better, and has more competent handling than the FRS. It may then surprise you that I would still take the FRS for a drive if given the choice between the two. My reason you ask? Though the Camaro may be the better car, the FRS is a better go-kart.
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:36 AM   #2
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Great in-depth comparison. I have a close friend who has a 2014 SS and his mom has a 2016 both convertibles. I’ve been in both and needless to say, it’s two completely different worlds. In the Camaro, go means go. Not “wait till 5k rpm then go” lol the power is incredible and you’re right about the anticlimactic top end, but maybe we’re used to the higher redline lol The interior isn’t too bad. I like the materials and the leather seats are pretty comfortable. The handling in theirs is not so great though. Not sure if it’s because it’s not the 1LE but it’s bad. I also prefer our seating position. Either way they’re great cars even stock. Most of my friends have American cars and it’s very interesting to see the differences in all. Always take the opportunities to drive something different. In the end, I’d take my go-kart over them all, even if it means being last on the highway lol

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Old 06-14-2019, 10:59 AM   #3
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"Effortlessly fast" can become a bit of a curse after a while. Know a few guys I work with who have Mustang GT, C63 and they said that while it was fun initially to hear the rumble and feel power, it becomes frustrating because they can't even use 10% of that power on the road. Its like being an Olympic swimmer stuck in a kiddie size pool. Sure if you live near a track, it's good thing but how many of us do. They also feel the pain more when stuck in traffic and the big thirsty V8 suck up the gas. I struggled with choosing between a muscle car and the BRZ and ended up with the BRZ because I can drive the car reasonably hard on the road without getting it impounded.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Will BRZ View Post
Great in-depth comparison. I have a close friend who has a 2014 SS and his mom has a 2016 both convertibles. Iíve been in both and needless to say, itís two completely different worlds. In the Camaro, go means go. Not ďwait till 5k rpm then goĒ lol the power is incredible and youíre right about the anticlimactic top end, but maybe weíre used to the higher redline lol The interior isnít too bad. I like the materials and the leather seats are pretty comfortable. The handling in theirs is not so great though. Not sure if itís because itís not the 1LE but itís bad. I also prefer our seating position. Either way theyíre great cars even stock. Most of my friends have American cars and itís very interesting to see the differences in all. Always take the opportunities to drive something different. In the end, Iíd take my go-kart over them all, even if it means being last on the highway lol
I actually was able to sweet-talk my way into a 2014 SS convertible as a rental on a business trip once. You are correct about the handling. I wasn't really impressed with that one. I think 2016 was actually the first model year of gen 6, which I've been told is a very different car by itself, though I believe you if you are saying the convertibles handling is the same. Add a roof and the 1LE package and everything changes. I don't think it's any one piece of the package that does it (it's a big list). It's not like just adding sticky tires and poof, fast car. It's like GM told two different chassis teams to develop separate cars with separate requirements starting with the body shell and engine. Actually, now that I think about it, that's probably what happened.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:30 PM   #5
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The Camaro is one helluva car. My brother has a 700HP ZL1. It is smooth, comfortable and brutally fast. He also has not one but two 2ZZ swapped MR2 Spyders like mine. He uses the Camaro for cruising to the store and car shows but when he wants to go out and rip and tear on winding country roads he takes the Spyder. Why? It is the same reason as mentioned above. While the Camaro is more than competent as a canyon carver it can quickly land you in jail because it is so effortlessly fast. The Spyder, much like a FR-S/86/BRZ can be relatively quick on the twisties too but you have to become involved and work at it and you will probably not see three digits on the speedometer on the short straights connecting the curves. Sometimes less is more (fun).
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:44 PM   #6
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The newest generation Camaros are amazing cars for the money. Had this version been available in '12 when I bought the FRS I would have probably ended up with the Camaro (it was on my list at the time).

Of course, we are talking about something that costs, what, about $43,000 minimum? That's what I come up with to meet the description. A good deal, but for that price differential it should beat the 86.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:50 PM   #7
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The Camaro is one helluva car. My brother has a 700HP ZL1. It is smooth, comfortable and brutally fast. He also has not one but two 2ZZ swapped MR2 Spyders like mine. He uses the Camaro for cruising to the store and car shows but when he wants to go out and rip and tear on winding country roads he takes the Spyder. Why? It is the same reason as mentioned above. While the Camaro is more than competent as a canyon carver it can quickly land you in jail because it is so effortlessly fast. The Spyder, much like a FR-S/86/BRZ can be relatively quick on the twisties too but you have to become involved and work at it and you will probably not see three digits on the speedometer on the short straights connecting the curves. Sometimes less is more (fun).


ZL1 is a beast. I think it put Europeans super cars to shame. It costs way less but deliver on par performance as a Lambo and Ferrari. Its the people's car beating the aristocrats!
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:20 PM   #8
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"Effortlessly fast" can become a bit of a curse after a while. Know a few guys I work with who have Mustang GT, C63 and they said that while it was fun initially to hear the rumble and feel power, it becomes frustrating because they can't even use 10% of that power on the road. Its like being an Olympic swimmer stuck in a kiddie size pool. Sure if you live near a track, it's good thing but how many of us do. They also feel the pain more when stuck in traffic and the big thirsty V8 suck up the gas. I struggled with choosing between a muscle car and the BRZ and ended up with the BRZ because I can drive the car reasonably hard on the road without getting it impounded.
I disagree. I feel more frustrated not having power than having an excess of it.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:40 PM   #9
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They're just very different cars. Lots of power isn't frustrating. Being unable to pass is frustrating. Being able to wring out a car is fun, though.

One thing really kills the truly sporting fun of a Camaro on the street: it's too wide. I'd even say the twins are marginally too wide, but the extra 5 inches of Camaro width is really a deal killer on narrow back roads. On the track, width doesn't matter. On a back road when you need to stay in your lane, width is a huge deal. Just as a narrow car can go faster through a slalom, it can do the same on a narrow road.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:51 PM   #10
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"Effortlessly fast" can become a bit of a curse after a while. Know a few guys I work with who have Mustang GT, C63 and they said that while it was fun initially to hear the rumble and feel power, it becomes frustrating because they can't even use 10% of that power on the road. Its like being an Olympic swimmer stuck in a kiddie size pool. Sure if you live near a track, it's good thing but how many of us do. They also feel the pain more when stuck in traffic and the big thirsty V8 suck up the gas. I struggled with choosing between a muscle car and the BRZ and ended up with the BRZ because I can drive the car reasonably hard on the road without getting it impounded.
I agree - I had several opportunities to drive my buddy's 997 GT3 RS back in the day. Phenomenal car. I was addicted to the wail of that glorious motor, but I always had to cut it short. I think it varies though, if you live in an area with open sweeping roads (or straights) with good visibility you can play a bit. Here in CT (or Long Island where we were at the time) you don't really have the visibility you need to push the cars safely. Just too darned quick.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:27 PM   #11
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Of course, we are talking about something that costs, what, about $43,000 minimum? That's what I come up with to meet the description. A good deal, but for that price differential it should beat the 86.
Yeah that seems about right for sticker, but buying a leftover 2018 brings it to mid-30s as was the case with this one. There are still more out there too. And here people are saying the twins have sales problems. $7k for the 1LE package I guess is hard to justify to the average SS buyer who sees a spec sheet and can't tell the difference.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:48 PM   #12
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Yeah that seems about right for sticker, but buying a leftover 2018 brings it to mid-30s as was the case with this one. There are still more out there too. And here people are saying the twins have sales problems. $7k for the 1LE package I guess is hard to justify to the average SS buyer who sees a spec sheet and can't tell the difference.
Yea, I would never buy a new US domestic car at the beginning of the model year, always wait until the end, or a little past.
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Old 06-15-2019, 02:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuds View Post
Yeah that seems about right for sticker, but buying a leftover 2018 brings it to mid-30s as was the case with this one. There are still more out there too. And here people are saying the twins have sales problems. $7k for the 1LE package I guess is hard to justify to the average SS buyer who sees a spec sheet and can't tell the difference.
I don't think it's so much that it's hard to justify. It's just that the 1LE is a "track" package, why pay extra for a track package if your not going to spend a lot of time on the track? The regular SS's are plenty capable enough for the occasional track day.
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Old 06-16-2019, 10:11 PM   #14
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I wonder if the V6 1LE is the better choice here if you're not going for time.
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