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Camaro V8 LS3 / L99 Engine, Exhaust, and Bolt-Ons Bolt-Ons | Intakes | Exhaust

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Old 01-16-2012, 10:37 PM   #1
hawk02
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L99 vs LS3: One Person's Perspective

My intent with this post is not to start another automatic vs manual war. I'm sure that topic has been discussed ad nauseum in these forums. Instead I think I bring a unique perspestive regarding the strengths and weakness of each engine/transmission package having owned both in the past 8 months.

Let me start with a litte background, last May I purchased a brand new 2011 victory red 2SS Camaro convertible with automatic. I won't bore you the reasons why I went with the automatic, just know it ended up being my biggest regret. So yesterday I bit the bullet and traded in the '11 for a 2012 victory red 2SS Camaro convertible with manual transmission.

Here are my initial thoughts between the two packages:

Aggressiveness:

I was flabbergasted at the difference in aggressiveness between the two engine packages. I just about jumped out of my shoes yesterday when the dealer started up the '12 Camaro. In my estimation, the LS3 sounds 10 decibles louder at startup than the L99. And the engine rumble during acceleration is also significantly louder with the LS3. If I didn't know any better I'd think Chevy put a completely different exhaust package on the manual. It's that much louder than the L99.

Acceleration and Performance:

It's not a surprise, acceleration from a dead stop is where the automatic really shines. It's smooth and "pin you in your seat" powerful. I was always impressed at how quick the auto would reach 60 or above mph. I haven't owned the LS3 long enough to tell whether the 26 extra horses makes a difference. I certainly don't feel it on acceleration. I'm sure if I ran each car down a quarter mile I'd see a difference. Based on how and where I drive, I probably won't see much difference.

Drivability and Fun:

The automatic, in my opinion, is perfect for cruisin' with the top down. On a warm summer evening there's nothing better then riding around with the top down jamming to your favorite tunes. It's when the top goes up that the automatic loses much of it's excitement. On the other hand, the manual drives like what I thought a true "muscle" car would drive like. It's loud, rough and agressive. There's a connection between the car and the driver that's missing with the automatic. For me, the manual seems much harder to drive. To give an example, my driveway has a slight incline. I cringe every time I put the '12 in the garage. I just don't feel like I have the same level of control as I did with the auto. I'm afraid I'm going to give the car too much gas and end up going through the back wall. I'm sure I'll feel more comfortable as I get use to driving it, but for now I don't feel I have as much control. I'm anxious for good weather to arrive so I can compare driving with the top down. The automatic was great fun, I hope the manual matches that experience and doesn't make me regret trading in the auto.

In the end, I'm really surprised at the different driving experience produced by each engine/transmission package. I wouldn't say the difference is 180 degrees on opposite ends of the scale, but I sure thought it would be closer than it turns out to be. At this point I can't really recommend one over the other. It all depends on what you want from the car.

--Kim
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:50 PM   #2
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The LS3 and L99 do have two completely different exhausts from the factory. Even the inside of the muffler is different between the two.

As far as feeling comfortable with the manual, that will just come with a little time. If you feel like the clutch is too stiff or wants to jump out at you too fast there is a spring at the top of the clutch pedal that you can remove. Do a search and you'll find the thread about removing it.

For me, I couldn't stand the stock shifter. That was one of my first mods. I got an MGW with the Race knob and it's 100% different and 100% better IMO.

Stock to stock you my not feel a difference right off the bat but trust me there is more HP from the manual. The autos usually put down about 335 rwhp where the manual is more in the 365 rwhp range. Not only does the LS3 come with more HP but there is alot more HP robbed by the big auto trans. Now, add a couple bolt ons and a torque converter to the auto and all bets are off. Actually the auto would probably win at the drag strip because it should be easier to launch.

For me (and my wife as well) there was not even a remote consideration of an auto over the manual. IMO it's makes the car alot more fun to drive.

My '69 is a convertible with a 5-speed trans. Wouldn't have it any other way. I love driving it with the manual no matter if the top is up or down (although it's down 90% of the time).
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:08 AM   #3
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if you really knew how to drive a stick well and got use to it. the control thing would never been a problem. people who worry about giving it to much gas are little new to manuals or are not use to driving them, but still know how to drive them.

anyways nice read. i know what you mean my DD is a auto and my camaro is a manual. they are times when i just wanna get in my car and relax and drive. that why i love my auto. but i must say getting into that manual and going through the gears with that v8 rumble is one hell of a time.

both are great, my next car will be a duel clutch tranny hopefully.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:51 AM   #4
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Great read. I agree with the exhaust of the 12 LS3 as ive heard VR Baron's ride. When he fired her up there was more rumble. Ive driven an 11 LS3 and didnt sound like the 12's.
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:15 AM   #5
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Great read. Well thought out very nice
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:00 AM   #6
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It won't take long to get used to the stick. My driveway is at an incline, I have to back in so I can get out of the car, and I need to put the passenger mirror about 4 inches from the wall so I don't tap the wife's tahoe with my door when I get out. On top of all that, I have a bike rack in the back of my garage which gives me +/- about 8 inches of breathing room between hitting the bike rack with the back of my car and closing the garage door on the front.

It used to take me 2+ tries to get it and I was nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs the whole time. After a few months I hit it the first time every time without even thinking about it. Like anything else, practice makes perfect.

I'm sure I just jinxed myself with this post and today will be the day I hit the garage wall with my mirror....
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:06 AM   #7
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Interesting perspective and it certainly sounds completely unbiased.

I've been driving a manual, off and on, since the mid 70's, so it's second nature to me. Once you spend enough time driving your new Camaro, you won't even think about it any more. I went manual on the Camaro, despite it being my daily driver, simply for the fun factor.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:17 AM   #8
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i wish i would have got the ls3 :(
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSGUNNER View Post
Great read. I agree with the exhaust of the 12 LS3 as ive heard VR Baron's ride. When he fired her up there was more rumble. Ive driven an 11 LS3 and didnt sound like the 12's.
You should hear it now with the outlaw axelback. Holly Crap!!!

Good write up. Nice if we all could afford one of each depending on our mood that day, but I really dont mind the stick in any conditions unless in traffice stuck for a hour and that doesnt really happen on my normal drive
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Old 01-17-2012, 04:46 PM   #10
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i wish i would have got the ls3 :(
Lol me too but cali traffic is the worst. I dont regret my choice one bit but i know. Manuals are fun and pops taught me when i was 14. Who knows if i ever get another sports, muscle, pony car it will be a manual.
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You should hear it now with the outlaw axelback. Holly Crap!!!

Good write up. Nice if we all could afford one of each depending on our mood that day, but I really dont mind the stick in any conditions unless in traffice stuck for a hour and that doesnt really happen on my normal drive
i bet. Have you done any sound clips? Im sure its a beast.
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Old 01-17-2012, 04:50 PM   #11
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Lol me too but cali traffic is the worst. I dont regret my choice one bit but i know. Manuals are fun and pops taught me when i was 14. Who knows if i ever get another sports, muscle, pony car it will be a manual.


i bet. Have you done any sound clips? Im sure its a beast.
No.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:04 PM   #12
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:44 PM   #13
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The day you forget you're actually running the clutch pedal and the shifter...ie when it's coming naturally to you, just the same as how you don't think what you're doing to walk...or you don't focus on breathing and blinking...is when you're actually "good" at driving with a clutch pedal.

I don't even think about it nowadays...to the point where when I get behind the wheel of my winter car, which has an auto, I actually have to stop myself from smashing my left foot on the floorpan looking for a pedal that isn't there when I need to start the car.

For what it's worth, I know it's been mentioned above...the LS3 exhaust is completely different. GM had to put more nonsense in the L99 exhaust because DoD can make a V8 really sound strange (in a bad way) with an exhaust that lets more noise through.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:10 PM   #14
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Kim, I've driven a stick all my life, and it took me a couple of weeks to get used to where the clutch releases. After a couple of weeks, you'll get the feel. Now, you can't even feel shifts. Really smooth. As mentioned above... Eventually, you won't even think about what gear you'll need to be in. It just happens naturally. Congrats!!!!!
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:25 PM   #15
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Eventually, you won't even think about what gear you'll need to be in. It just happens naturally. Congrats!!!!!
A tune with skip shift disabled helps a TON too...I got so pissed off when my car forced me into 4th once, that I said "goodbye warranty"...drove home, plugged in HPTuners...and haven't looked back since.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:43 PM   #16
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tune the L99, tune the LS3... then compare them
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:33 AM   #17
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A tune with skip shift disabled helps a TON too...I got so pissed off when my car forced me into 4th once, that I said "goodbye warranty"...drove home, plugged in HPTuners...and haven't looked back since.
You can also get a jumper that will remove the shift skip and it will not affect your warrany. It takes 5 minutes to install or remove.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:51 PM   #18
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tune the L99, tune the LS3... then compare them
A tuned LS3 will still make more power than a tuned L99...the best part of the tune with the L99 car is really the trans calibration...but if you're really a stick shift car person...you calibrate your own transmission every time you drive it

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You can also get a jumper that will remove the shift skip and it will not affect your warrany. It takes 5 minutes to install or remove.
Yeah I know...it's actually just a resistor attached to the right connector to plug in where the solenoid is. But then you still get the annoying message on the dash every time it wants to force you to 4th...plus it's so easy to find more power when you're in there turning off skip shift...why not ...who cares about warranties lol.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:59 PM   #19
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I know you didn't mean to but you started another auto vs manual thread. LOL
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:13 PM   #20
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Great write up on a very touchy subject around here.
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