While we were preparing to make the annual pilgrimage to SEMA, we were delighted to see a message in our inbox from Chevrolet inviting us to head out to Pahrump, Nevada, the day before the largest gathering of aftermarket auto vendors began, to sample some of their newest performance offerings at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. Naturally, being the gracious guests we are, we packed our crap as fast as we could and caught the next flight out of San Diego.
When we arrived at Spring Mountain, we were greeted by two neat rows of sixth-gen Camaros and Cruzes, along with the good people of Chevrolet Performance. After a quick dinner, Chevrolet informed us that we would be driving both the sixth-gen Camaro and second-generation Cruze the next day, all equipped with their new performance suspension pieces.
The next morning, we were all placed into groups and were allowed out on the sprawling course to put the sixth-gens through their paces. We took turns cycling through every iteration of the General’s latest pony car, including the turbo four cylinder and naturally aspirated V6 iterations, before testing the head honcho’s mettle—all of which were equipped with Chevrolet Performance’s new suspension, brakes, and engine performance components.
Next we headed over to an improvised autocross course to see how the Cruze hatchback, equipped with the new suspension bits, would fair in close-quarter combat. Each driver received three laps to get a feel for the cars, after which we headed inside to see just what was making the cars handle so spectacularly.
All of the SS models we drove were equipped with Chevrolet Performance’s new cold air intakes and stainless steel axle-back exhaust systems that gave the car an authoritative rumble. They were also equipped with six-piston Brembo calipers and dinner-plate sized 340 mm two-piece rotors—which were drilled, vented and slotted.
The car’s center of gravity had been lowered with a set of suspension springs that brought the car’s overall ride height down by 20 mm—or 3/4 of an inch for those not well versed in the metric system. The higher rate springs were accompanied by matching dampers to ensure that the cars retain the stock amount of suspension travel—a trait often missed by aftermarket vendors not intimately familiar with the car’s chassis.
Parts by the Numbers
- 84130608 Suspension Handling Package (1LE Track Pack-Street. SS Coupe with Magnetic Ride Control)
- 84188726 2016 Camaro Lowering Kit (Camaro SS Coupe, shown)
- 23261507 Chevrolet Performance Front & Rear Brake Package – 2017 Cruze
- 84105410 2017 Suspension Lowering Kit, LT / Premier Hatch and Sedan Models
- 84157666 Performance Air Intake – LGX
- 84100441 – LTG Performance Exhaust
The handling package adds larger diameter swap bars al la the 1LE and provides stiffer lateral suspension links to decrease deflection. The best part of buying a lowering and handling kit from Chevrolet Performance is the fact that the same people that designed the suspension in the first place conceived and produced the kit you are now putting on your car. This ensures high quality parts that function, and last, in a way few others could replicate.
“They are very comprehensive and finely tuned systems designed to provide a higher level of performance without a significant effect on the overall driving experience,” said Mark Dickens, director, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering. “With the upgraded brake systems, you’re able to carry more speed into the turns, while the new suspension parts enable flatter, more confident cornering. The Gen Six Camaro is a great track car off the showroom floor, but these new parts take it to the next level.”
The V6 and turbo four cylinder models receive similar modifications with the lowering and handling packages, but utilize specifically designed components produced with those platforms in mind. When installed by the dealer, all these performance parts retain their factory warranty.
The Cruzes we drove were all equipped with the full gamut of new performance parts including a suspension lowering kit, brake kit, air intake, and exhaust system. The suspension kit includes springs that lower the car 10 mm (0.4 inch) and enhanced sway bars that decrease the Cruze’s body roll and provide more confident cornering.
The brake kit included improved calipers clamping larger rotors, while the cold air intake provided a fun intake note, and the performance exhaust made its presence known in a subtle but aggressive manner.
“The Cruze is brimming with performance and these new parts bring out its wilder side,” said Dickens. “With a great power-to-weight ratio, superb chassis dynamics and responsive steering, it’s a car performance enthusiasts will love.”
All the suspension pieces we tested on the Camaro are, in fact, homologated for T1 and T2 SCCA racing–meaning the SCCA recognizes them as acceptable components to run in either class. Todd Napieralski’s T2 prepared sixth-gen Camaro was on hand to give us a look at just what these components look like in an actual racecar.
Napieralski even beat a few track records and took home several pole positions while running on Chevrolet Performance’s suspension pieces that you can now get for your street-going sixth-gen. And, if you so choose, the dealer will even install them for you before you take delivery of the car.
Next we moved on to installing performance exhausts and cold air intakes on a Silverado. The exhausts were three-inch mandrel bent tubing in a 304 stainless steel while the cold air intakes offer a high-flow dry medium in a stylish clear air box. All the components installed retain the vehicles warranty and are 50-state legal.
“For those who want the best performance from their Silverado, these new performance parts are the ticket,” said Dickens. “Better still, they were designed and tested by the engineers who designed the Silverado’s production parts, so there’s no question about their fit or quality.”
After flogging the sixth-gens and new Cruzes around the track for a day, and installing some trick performance parts on the resident Silverado, we walked away with our speed addiction fully satiated—well, at least until the next day.