One of the biggest downers with the fifth-generation Camaro SS has been the TapShift function of the six-speed automatic transmission. Tap the upshift button and it responded with the speed of a snail racing across flypaper. In stock form, you were usually better off letting the 6L90 transmission shift for itself, at least when it came to straight-line acceleration.
Apparently, someone at Chevy noticed so when the new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 arrives this spring, it will benefit from GM's supposedly improved TapShift technology.
For 2012, GM powertrain engineers implemented a patent-pending software algorithm that improves tap response time by up to 60 percent compared to the previous system. No hardware changes were required for the upgrade, according to a Chevrolet press release.
"The faster you can get to the next gear, the better, and from the sound of it, the ZL1 automatic's performance is going to make paddle shifting more exhilarating and satisfying for drivers of all skill sets," said Eric Fedewa, director of Global Powertrain Forecasting at IHS Automotive. "We're seeing a trend toward more manual-mode-capable, fun-to-drive automatic transmissions across all vehicle segments, and GM's technology is leading the pack."
The 580-horsepower ZL1 has a real advantage over its rival from Dearborn, the Shelby GT500, because the Bow Tie is offered with an automatic gearbox whereas the Ford is manual transmission-only. Short of a genuine clutchless manual transmission, the best you can hope for is an automatic with quick-acting paddle shifts--something the Camaro SS has not had. Hit the TapShift buttons in the SS at the drag strip and you were more likely to over-rev the engine than hit the shift point you wanted.
According to Chevy, the 2012 ZL1's six-speed automatic transmission delivers a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the manual transmission time. With 0-60 taking 3.9 seconds, and a top speed of 184 mph, the power and acceleration of the ZL1 automatic rivals many supercars.
By staging hydraulic pressure in the clutch for the next gear, the new control module algorithm reduces tap delay for the 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 up-shifts by 200-300 milliseconds. The system anticipates shift requests based on current gear, throttle, torque and speed. By pre-filling the clutch for the next gear, the tap up-shift response is near instantaneous.
Said Gabe Gibson, GM performance car calibration engineer: "Not only did we make the upgrade to Camaro, we implemented it on the 2012 Corvetteas well, and will use it on all vehicles with TapShift control going forward."
Chevy believes the staged up-shifts will help drivers get the most out of its supercharged 6.2L engine, which is SAE-rated at 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque. "We think Camaro drivers will really appreciate the performance improvement offered by staged up-shifts, whether they're merging onto the freeway or putting their ZL1 through its paces at the track," Gibson said.
The Camaro ZL1 Coupe will go on sale this spring as a 2012 model. The Camaro ZL1 convertible will go on sale this summer as a 2013 model. Chevrolet expects the automatic transmission to command up to 50 percent of ZL1 sales.
Super Chevy Editor Jim Campisano is flying to Virginia next week to get his first hands-on experience with the ZL1 at the challenging (and high-speed) Virginia International Raceway. Check superchevy.com and Super Chevy's Facewbook page for updates when he drives the car on February 28.