Factory Backed

Chevrolet wants you to modify your late-model Chevrolet–and, of course, do so using genuine Chevrolet parts. The day before SEMA, at the nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway, they laid out their argument for shopping down at the local dealer.

First, the company’s reps noted, these parts are engineered by the same people who did the original vehicles. Additionally, they’re subjected to the same long-term durability testing as the new cars themselves–like going the distance of an entire tank of gas without overheating anything. In most cases, these parts won’t void the new-car warranty, and they’re also engineered to work with the vehicle’s stability and ABS controls. Don’t forget, Chevrolet Performance has access to all sorts of facilities, like 4000 of acres of proving grounds and their own race track–oh, and the Nu?rburgring.

Okay, enough with the sales pitch. What are they offering? We sampled parts for the Sonic and current iteration of the Camaro, and these bits can be divided into two groups: parts already available on a higher-spec car, and parts developed from scratch because they’re not yet in the system.

Since there really isn’t a high-performance variant of the Sonic, those hop-up parts are new. The biggie is a low-restriction exhaust kit that’s 50-state legal and includes the dealer calibration; GM promises 10 more horsepower along with 15 ft.-lbs. of torque. (They also note that 2012-’13 Sonics will need the higher-capacity 2014 Sonic clutch.)

Looking for more go? They also offer a coldair kit, although the catalog doesn’t mention that it increases performance. It does sound nice when paired with the exhaust, though.

Handling upgrades are available, too, including 18-inch wheels, lowering springs and alternate dampers. The base-model car gets Sonic RS front struts plus new rear shock absorbers; the Sonic RS just gets the revised rear dampers. At some point you need to stop, too: A big-brake kit is offered that replaces the original 276mm discs with 300mm-diameter pieces.

If the RS is the sportier version of the Sonic, these bolt-ons turned the RS into an RS-RS. The chassis was nice and composed. Instead of holding on for dear life, we could use the throttle to balance the chassis in the turns. There’s still some push, but we could coax the tail around, too.

The test course set up on the infield portion of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway included a slalom, and the modified Sonic ate it up, offering great visibility, nice steering feedback and a decent amount of power.

We wouldn’t call the engine note wimpy. If anything, we wished for seats with a bit more support–perhaps one day they’ll also be added to the catalog. Then there’s the Chevrolet Performance parts offered for the Camaro, and a lot of these come from the parts bin. Want Camaro SS or ZL1 brakes for your V6 Camaro? Done. How about fitting those six-piston, 14.6-inch ZL1 Brembo front brakes on your Camaro SS? That’s available as a bolt-on kit, too.

Chevrolet Performance also offers the complete 1LE Trak-Pak suspension for the Camaro SS and V6 models. It includes stiffer anti-roll bars, upgraded front struts, monotube rear shock absorbers, stiffer front springs, more precise rear toe links and a few other goodies.

But wait, there’s more. How about the beefed-up driveline kit found in the supercharged ZL1? The entire 9.9-inch, cast-iron differential housing, limited-slip diff, stronger axles and stronger driveshaft are all available under a single part number. The 3.91:1 final drive found in the 1LE package can also be purchased separately.

The catalog can add more power, too, and this time it’s a bit more than a cold-air kit and exhaust: How about CNC-ported LS3 cylinder heads paired with the highlift LS7 camshaft? Chevrolet Performance says to expect 40 more horses.

On track, these parts delivered as promised: flatter cornering, increased braking performance and way more acceleration. We didn’t hear any squeaks, rattles or groans either.

Note that helmets aren’t compatible with the sunroof Camaros, and there’s just barely enough room inside the hardtop models.

For a sleeper setup, though, we may start with the V6-powered Camaro. Take a 2010 or so V6 Camaro–that’s a sub-$20,000 purchase according to what we’re seeing on eBay Motors–and add the upgraded suspension and brake package. Now you have a late-model track car that makes a tick more than 300 horsepower and gets nearly 30 mpg on the highway.

If you’re going that route, of course, the car needs to be yellow–you know, like our favorite transforming robot.

Prices

Some of these parts are so new that prices haven’t been set yet. Here’s a quick sample of the ones that are available:

Camaro SS Brake Upgrade Kit for Camaro V6 (part No. 23120542): $5600

Camaro 1LE Track Pack for Camaro V6 (part No. 23123398): $1500

Camaro ZL1 HD Driveline Kit for manual transmission (part No. 22959394): $4500

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