When the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and 2012 Camaro ZL1 were first released, both were such incredibly capable cars that a few features really didn’t receive the attention they deserved. While many were focused on the 638 and 580hp powertrains, little notice was given to the electronics controlling them. Both the LS9 and LSA received sophisticated controls that included launch control and “no lift shift” to aid drivers in harnessing all that power.
Skeptics had a field day with the idea that a computer could make you drive better, but over and over again it was proven that launch control works incredibly well in a stock vehicle – only about a tenth difference between computer controlled runs and that of a professional driver (with no such aids). If, for example, this was tested on the street like the video (not that we are condoning such behavior), we have a feeling it might be closer than that even though the system was designed for “VHT-prepped drag strips” (according to the initial press release on the 2012 Camaro ZL1).
What exactly are launch control and “no lift shift?” In essence, these features are OEM versions of what aftermarket tuners have been doing for years. The launch control in the 2009-2013 Corvette ZR1 and 2012-2014 Camaro ZL1 acts first as a two-step rev limiter. It pegs the RPM, and as soon as the clutch is released it then “modulates engine torque 100 times per second to maximize available traction.” In the drag racing world, tuners will retard ignition timing to reduce torque and increase traction where needed. It will also reduce the chances of rearend damage during launches. Meanwhile the sole purpose of “no lift shift” is to protect drivetrain parts. The driver simply keeps the accelerator floored during shifting, and the computer does all the work. Lower e.t.’s and no crunched gears (hopefully).
Though we can certainly understand the public’s reaction to launch control and no lift shift when they were first released, GM has come a long way since the ‘90s version of traction control on fourth-gen Camaros and Corvettes. And more over, it is inspiring to see GM actually encourage and enable racing its cars. It seems like they are finally getting it.