Ford is finally coming to town with a true competitor for the Chevy Camaro ZL1, in the form of the 2020 Mustang GT500. With gobs of power coming in at 760 horsepower - to be exact - and 625 lb-ft of torque, the GT500 will be tough to beat.
In the GT500, we’re looking at an impressive sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.3 sec, and a jaw-dropping 10.61 sec quarter-mile at 133 mph thanks to the venom-infused 5.2L supercharged V8 pumping out 760 horsepower. This should give it a small but noticeable edge over the ZL1 in terms of performance.
But make no mistake: Chevy is still tweaking the ZL1 in order to compete with the best. It was announced that starting in February 2019, the Camaro ZL1 1LE will now be available with the 10-speed automatic transmission instead of just the manual. This will make it even faster around the track and means that the GT500 certainly has its work cut out for it.
2020 Ford Mustang GT500 vs 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1: Quick Stats
|2020 Ford Mustang GT500||2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1
||10.61 sec @ 133 MPH
||11.4 sec @ 127 MPH
|Horsepower + Engine
||760 hp, supercharged 5.2 liter V8
||650 hp, supercharged 6.2 liter V8
||7-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
||6-speed Manual or 10-speed Automatic
||3,820 lbs (mfr est)
||TBD, est 14 city/21 hwy
||12 city/20 hwy (automatic)
|Fuel Tank Capacity
||TBD, est 16 gallons
||180 mph (governor limited)
2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Exterior
The redesign of the Camaro for 2019 drew immediate ire from the public to the point where Chevy actually tweaked the visuals in response. Fortunately, it seems that, at least for now, the ZL1 will not change the front fascia that has been deemed so unpopular. In a lesser controversy, the 2020 GT500 maintains the headlights from the 2015-2017 model year, which seem to be well-liked by the Mustang community.
Both the ZL1 and the GT500 have maintained heritage-inspired lines while still using a completely modern (even futuristic) exterior design. Which one is the better-looking model comes down to the eye of the beholder. While we think that the Camaro’s design has evolved nicely over time into a properly aggressive style, the Mustang still takes the cake in our book. The Camaro is a bit more compact than the Mustang, especially in terms of width and height, which might be an advantage in terms of parking and maneuverability. It may also detract from the overall cabin feel, as we’ll see shortly.
Apart from the revised front fascia and different hood intakes, the differences between a run-of-the-mill Camaro SS and a ZL1 are not always readily apparent. The contrast between a Mustang GT and the new GT500 is much more stark. In fact, the Mustang GT500 has bodywork that is completely unique to the model from the A-pillar forward. It also comes in four new colors: Grabber Lime, Twister Orange, Rapid Red, and Iconic Silver.
The difference is especially noticeable when looking at the GT500 with the Carbon Fiber Track Pack outfitting. This equipment group adds a carbon fiber wing, wheels, and front splitter. It will also include unique springs and anti-roll bars, while deleting the rear seat, removing any doubt as to whether it’s built to be tracked. Carbon fiber add-ons or not, if you want to stand out from the rest of the lineup, the GT500 is the way to go.
Unlike the GT500, the Camaro ZL1 is actually available as a convertible. However, the convertible naturally loses some performance-oriented capabilities. It doesn’t get the electronically-controlled limited slip differential or Chevy’s Performance Traction Management system. The convertible is also heavier, and, like all convertibles, has less structural rigidity as a natural byproduct of its design. While the coupe is the clear winner on the track, the open-top ZL1 is still an incredibly formidable presence on the street and more than enough car for most drivers that want to soak up the sun.
Unlike the Mustang GT500, the Camaro ZL1 does have an upgraded version: the Camaro ZL1 1LE. While mocked for its alphabet soup name, Chevy claims that the 1LE’s carbon fiber rear wing, air deflectors, and new dive planes on the front fascia help the car zoom through the Nürburgring Nordschleife an incredible 13.6 seconds faster than the regular ZL1. That massive rear wing is completely functional, providing 300 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. The 1LE actually uses 19-inch wheels instead of the ZL1’s 20-inchers, to save even more weight. Wrapped around them are some Goodyear tires with wider and stickier rubber. Debuting as manual-transmission only, a 10-speed automatic option for the 1LE is launching in February, 2019.
2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Interior
While the vast majority of details released about the GT500 have been focused on performance (like the engine and aerodynamics of the body), the interior is no slacker. It’s very similar in nature to the GT350 but features some unique Recaro seats with gorgeous white accents. While the rotary dial shifter seems like a misstep to many, the cabin of the GT500 looks like it will compare well to the competition. Which is to say, sporty and driver-focused, with enough creature comforts to make it a livable daily driver, if not a luxurious cruiser.
While we do our best to love all cars equally for what they are, it’s sometimes difficult to sing the praises of a GM interior. With that said, while the Camaro ZL1’s cabin is certainly not “premium” or “luxury”, it looks pretty darn cool. From the circular vents/integrated climate dials to the racing seats, the liberal use of ultrasuede to the red accents, the “racerboy fighter jet” theme is carried inside from the exterior. Everything looks focused and sporty, with a minimalist dash and sharp angles, never leaving any doubt as to what type of car you’re in.
Unfortunately, from this aggressively-styled interior, you’ll immediately notice one of the Camaro’s most called-out flaws: the outward visibility. With a super-high beltline and large C-pillars, this is a deal-breaker for many car buyers.
The Camaro’s rear seat feels especially small due to the design of the body, and it pretty cramped with 29.9 inches of legroom and 33.5 inches of headroom. Small back seats are the status quo for muscle and pony cars but something to consider if you do often need to transport more than two people. We anticipate that the GT500 will be close to its GT350 brother, with a slightly more liveable 30.6 inches of legroom and 34.8 inches of headroom.
The Camaro’s rear seats fold (without splitting), adding a bit more convenience for carrying large items. However, the trunk is small and the trunk opening is even smaller, limiting viability for helping during a move or taking a weekend trip with gear. You only get 9.1 cubic feet in the coupe, and a meager 7.3 cubic feet in the convertible. The GT500 likely does not have rear folding seats from what we’ve seen but should have a noticeably larger trunk capacity, close to the 13.5 cubic feet of the GT350. The ZL1’s front seats are power-adjustable, whereas the GT500 keeps it simple with manually-adjustable buckets.
The ZL1’s cabin comes complete with heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a wireless phone charging pad. There are probably a few more creature comforts here than in the GT500, but the Mustang does get a 12-inch full-color LCD instrument cluster that is well-liked, plus an 8-inch center touchscreen with SYNC 3 and the option for a 12-speaker B&O audio system. Another cool feature is the Performance Data Recorder, a data-collecting camera system that lets you record your track laps and analyze your technique afterward.
It’ll be up to drivers to decide whether the style and fit and finish of the Camaro is superior to the Mustang, but either way, people aren’t buying these cars for their upmarket cabins. The inside of a 4-cylinder Camaro or Mustang looks largely identical to the one in a ZL1 or GT500, with just a few race-inspired touches to remind drivers that they paid over two times as much.
2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Engine and Performance
Coincidentally, the 10-speed automatic transmission available in the Camaro ZL1 (what Chevy calls the “Hydra-Matic” gearbox) is the one that was co-developed between GM and Ford. It’s featured in other Ford vehicles like the F-150 Raptor, but not the GT500, which has a transmission unique to the model.
Unfortunately, the GT500 is not slated to debut with a manual transmission, though Ford executives have teased that one might be available later on. The Camaro is available with a 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic, allowing die-hard 3-pedal drivers the option of rowing their own gears.
While we don’t yet have the specifics on the GT500’s engine, we know that it will compare very favorably to the ZL1’s, despite being smaller in displacement. A variant of the “Voodoo” V8 that’s used in the GT350, the GT500’s motor adds a 2.65 liter Eaton supercharger, increasing horsepower to 760 with 625 lb-ft of torque. Shifts with the dual-clutch automatic happen in less than 100 milliseconds. The Tremec 7-speed automatic was built to help put all of that power down to the ground in an efficient way.
The ZL1 Camaro boasts 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, that give it a 3.5 second 0-60 mph time, roughly what we expect from the GT500. The Mustang will be quicker on the quarter-mile, however, and the aerodynamics, Magneride suspension, and track-tuned handling may also give it the edge on the race course.
While we still have to wait for further information regarding the GT500, we think that it will be able to smoke the Camaro ZL1 on both the quarter-mile and the track. Stay tuned for more updates as we await the GT500’s emergence in Fall 2019.
Image Credit: Ford, Chevrolet, Car & Driver