I was in the fortunate position tonight to drive a 1LE for the first time
This is basically a comparison of two similarly modded camaros, one is a 1SS/RS, the other is a 1LE. Keep in mind here, I'm not a test driver for a fancy auto magazine. I'm just a middle aged guy, who gets his jollies off having a spirited drive every now and then in a badass car.
This 1LE belongs to my good friend SSRS55. This was a perfect situation because He and I essentially have the same engine mods.
Both of us have a JRE 415 tune mated up to Long tube headers, he has a CAI intake, I have a new era. He has TSP headers with HFC's I have Pacesetters with HFC's (Yeah welfare I know. But they work LOL) He has a solo mach xl catback, I have a muffler delete (where were my food stamps again
He has the 1LE wheels, with stock rubber, I have Forgestar F14's with 275 front 315 rears on nitto invo's. He has the FE4 suspension with the 1LE upgrades, I have a 2011 SS with the FE3 suspension, and PFADT 1.25" drop springs.
All that being said, let's get to the good part, the driving impression!
While we couldn't get too crazy because it was a pretty short drive on a back road with some nice curves, this is what I got out of the experience.
Compared to my car, with my mods, his felt a good bit more responsive. The weight of the steering was much lighter, it felt as though moving the wheel itself took considerably less effort. In fact, his clutch felt a good bit lighter as well. As for steering input, the 1LE was noticeably more responsive. It wasn't a night and day difference, but it was CERTAINLY noticeable. The 1LE felt a bit more planted in corners, I didn't push the car as hard as I would my own but it was very confidence inspiring. Body roll was similar to my SS with the drop springs, very flat. Cornering, like my SS was very predictable.
As for power delivery, it felt very similar. The 1LE that I drove has a much smoother exhaust than my muffler delete, and it certainly attributed to how "smooth" the power delivery felt. The differences in the transmission were subtle, and in the conditions that I drove in I really couldn't discern much of a difference between his car and mine. I think to truly appreciate the difference in gearing, one would need to be on a race track, or perhaps a drag strip.
Aesthetics: oddly enough, and I did NOT expect this at all, but I LOVED the new steering wheel, and shifter in the 1LE! The materials on his steering wheel were much more pleasing to the touch, and the smaller shifter knob on the 1LE was a very welcome change in contrast to the bulky hurst shifter knob on my car. Since I had a 1SS, I am also not used to the HUD. What a cool feature. I would love to add this to my car someday. I also liked how his door locks were on his doors! Not the center stack like in my car. Overall, I like the newer interior, as well as the 1LE steering wheel/shifter knob much more than the older style controls in the 10-11 SS.
In summary, the best way I can compare these two cars is as follows:
After driving the 1LE, my 1SS feels like a "prototype" car... while the 1LE felt like the "finished" product. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with my SS, I don't like it any less, it's just that the 1LE felt more crisp, more refined. Had the 1LE package been available when I ordered my car I would not have hesitated to check that box in the options window.
Would I trade my SS in for a 1LE? Personally, *I* wouldn't. I don't autocross or race. I daily drive mine to and from work in the fair weather months. I drive it for pleasure in my off time. For me to de-mod my car, take a several thousand dollar hit on the trade in wouldn't make sense, but that's my situation! I could definitely understand why others would "trade up" and if doing so wouldn't be a financial disaster for me my answer to the question would likely be different.
What I CAN say is that driving this 1LE made my future performance goals for my SS a lot more clear.
The first thing I need to do is order an exhaust from solo. Man, I tell you SSRS55's car sounds beast... and inside it is much smoother sounding than the muffler delete/long tube combo that I'm sporting. I'm sure the wife will be happy that I'm spending another grand on my car again soon
I think that I would also do well to do an FE4 conversion with ZL1 spec sways from PFADT. I think this would tighten up my steering a bit and make the car feel responsive enough. Perhaps throw in some solid subframe bushings as well.
Thanks to Eric (SSRS55) for letting me drive his VR 1LE. It's a beautiful car man. Well done. (start a freaking build thread btw.)