Finally, there was an Exedy multi-plate clutch and LSR Tri-Ax shifter to facilitate gear changes. The shifter was absolutely amazing, not only far superior to stock but as good or better than any new Camaro shifter we've tried from the aftermarket. Whether you were tooling around in town, throwing powershifts at the strip or upshifting and downshifting on a road course, it made finding the correct gear foolproof. It was almost like all you had to do was think of what gear you wanted and the handle was magnetically drawn to it. Less enjoyable was the Exedy clutch. All of our test drivers felt it stiff to a fault and made smooth takeoffs in traffic very difficult. It also had a propensity to chatter. Once underway, it worked well, but you have to decide if you can live with it.
On the street, the LSR Camaro was edgier than stock, but not to the point that it couldn't be a truly enjoyable daily driver. You can definitely tell all of the slop has been dialed out of the factory suspension, and most enthusiasts will revel in this. The steering remains heavy, as it is on all fifth-gen SS Camaros, probably something LSR can't do anything about, but it rewards you with better-than-stock feedback and accuracy. Hopefully, this is an area Chevy will address on future Camaros because the heaviness does wear on you on long trips.
Around town and on the highway, the performance mods never felt intrusive. The car idled like a stocker, but put your foot into it and the LS3 really came to life. The axle-back exhaust was bold and throaty under acceleration but quiet in the cockpit at cruising speeds (no resonance). It also has a nice burble when you start it, but won't disturb your neighbors too much if you have to leave the house at 6 a.m. Despite our propensity for burnouts and jackrabbit starts, we still knocked down 17 mpg in stop-and-go driving and 24 cruising at 80 on the highway.
On the road course at Gainesville Raceway, we were hampered by unusually cold weather (50 degrees and windy), and we never could seem to get enough heat in the asphalt or the Invo tires. Still, we learned a lot. The LSR Performance Camaro was way more neutral than stock, almost to the point of being loose. Yet, it remained deliciously controllable. If you watch the video of our test at superchevy.com, you can hear Senior Editor Evan Smith helping to steer the car by modulating the throttle coming out of the last turn (go to the 5:22-mark on the video). LSR has turned the F-body into a true driver's machine.
With the tires set at the factory-recommended pressure, our best lap was a 1:06.91, but the tires felt greasy. The solution was to take 4 psi out of the fronts and 3 from the rear. Instantly, our lap times plummeted, first a 1:06.41, then a 1:06.25. Based on previous testing at this facility, that's about 2 seconds faster than stock, but there's no question that the cold track was working against us. We'd also like to try the car with a switch to Nitto NT05 tires, which from experience would probably have shaved another second or two from our laps, regardless of track temperature. Props for the LSR rotors as these definitely improved our brake's resistance to fade on the tight 1.6-mile course at Gainesville.