Performance Upgrades for your 2.0L LTG Cadillac ATS or Chevy Camaro

Posted by Tyler Vogt on

Engine/Performance

The first thing that you should always do before modifying any car is make sure that everything is up to date maintenance wise. You want to have a solid foundation to work off, and the LTG motor is a bit temperamental so there are a few things you should do to make sure you have a good base.

One thing that we know is that the LTG needs quality low-ash oil. We use Mobil 1 ESP (Emission System Protection) Formula. The key with any modified engine is reducing KR or knock retard, and having a good oil that prevents deposits and hot spots can minimize KR. Another cause of LTG performance issues is using incorrect spark plugs - this platform is very picky on your plug choice, so check what you have. We offer 3 kinds of spark plugs, but we highly suggest running the Densos or the NGKs over the stock plugs because they are cooler and will resist detonation.  Do not run anything other than the two above or stock.

Your next step before purchasing any modifications should be formulating a plan of what you want with your car. If you have a solid plan in place you can prevent purchasing modifications twice or removing others to put new ones in place. The modifications below are listed, mostly, in order of importance.

PCM TUNE: The best bang for your buck modification is going to be the PCM tune. We start each tune with a tweaked base file and work through dozens of tables to dial in your tune based on your modifications. The PCM controls the boost, air/fuel ratio, spark timing, valve timing, shift points, and shift firmness on automatic transmissions. Typical gains are about 40 horsepower over the stock file. Once you purchase our tune, we can re-flash it once you purchase different modifications for a small fee. If you have an automatic Camaro or ATS that is a 2017 or newer, you will want to get your TCM unlocked through HPTuners. Being able to access the transmission tables makes a huge difference on these modern automatic cars.

Around the same time, if you have a 2013-2015/2018-2019 ATS or a 2018-present Camaro, you should consider purchasing our Flex Fuel Conversion Kit; this is for folks who have access to E85. E85 has a considerably higher-octane rating than 91/93 and can work wonders on modified turbo cars. E85 is another way to help reduce KR.

AIR INTAKE: Next up is addressing the factory air intake. We have two options for this. Our silicone intake tube along with a K&N drop in filter works with your factory air box. We also have our ZZP ATS Cold Air Intake (ZZP Camaro Cold Air Intake), which replaces the factory airbox and intake tube. The CAI is a better option, but the turbo whistle and noises will be quite a bit more noticeable, and it needs to be noted because not everyone loves the whistle of a turbo.

DOWNPIPE: Third modification should be replacing your factory downpipe. Our downpipe is a high flow exhaust piece that connects the turbo to the cat-back exhaust. The stock unit is more restrictive and weighs quite a bit more than our downpipe. Our downpipe can be used with the stock turbo, and any of our upgraded turbo offerings.

CATCH CAN: This is a great idea, this separates the oil vapor from the PCV systems intake air to reduce the chance of detonation. The ZZP baffled catch can comes with a dipstick for checking and an easy screw off bottom for emptying.

INTERCOOLER: Our ATS Intercooler kit (or Camaro Intercooler Kit) is one of the next modifications you should consider. The Intercooler Kit cools the air from the turbo, making the air denser which increases power and mitigates KR. The stock intercooler is sandwiched between the A/C condenser and the radiator, which is a poor location. Our intercooler sits in front of both the radiator and A/C condenser which receives direct air flow through the bumper. Eliminating the stock plastic end tanks helps with longevity as well. 

BIGGER TURBO: Once you’ve done all those bolt-ons, it will be time to go one of two routes. One route would be switching to a larger “bolt on” turbo upgrade. We currently offer our ZFR turbo which begins as a Borg Warner 6758 EFR turbo, with our custom hot side that retains the factory manifold mounting points. The ZFR is a great upgrade over stock, most people benefiting from 50-75hp over the stock turbo while retaining a similar spool. The “Big Wheel” turbo we offer has a larger billet compressor wheel and can give gains of around 15whp over the stock turbo.

CAMS/ VALVE SPRINGS: The second route would be diving into the head and upgrading the cams and valve springs. The factory valve springs are very weak, and when you increase boost and begin to shift at a higher rpm, they are no longer capable of properly controlling the valves. Our valve springs are a higher pressure than stock and the retainers are made of a light-weight titanium material, so you will see gains in the 6000+ RPM range. Our aftermarket cams have increased lift and duration, so they will show gains in the mid to high RPM ranges with no negative effects. Our cams also include an upgraded fuel pump lobe which increases the amount of fuel that the high-pressure fuel pump can flow. These cams are essential when moving towards big power or full E85 applications.

Either way you go, whether it be turbo or cams first, the modifications will compliment each other. The larger ZFR turbo won’t die off up top like the stock turbo does, so being able to safely spin higher and open up the engine will make more noticeable gains with the turbo. 

EXHAUST: The next step is our catback.  Larger diameter piping, free flowing muffler, if the exhaust gets out easier, then you make more power. But you can do this modification at any time if you're just looking for some extra sound. For the ATS we have a stainless steel cat-back exhaust and the Camaro has it's own ZZP Camaro 3 inch Stainless Catback Exhaust.

 

The next two mods can be done at anytime…


Larger Throttle Body Kit: This is simply a larger diameter throttle body which can be utilized for less restriction and more throttle response.


Throttle Body Spacer: This is the easiest way to add a boost/vacuum line to your LTG car. This is a spacer that installs between the intake manifold and stock throttle body. It will add two 1/8 NPT ports for an aftermarket boost gauge.

 

Suspension/Handling:

BRAKES: After you add power to your car, you're going to want to add some breaking power too. A balanced car feels much better overall, and you'll appreciate driving it that much more. Feeling confident in your car is something we feel very strongly about, and a huge factor for this is your braking capability. We have plenty of options depending on your budget and goals, from OEM replacement to full big brake kits. Browse here on our website.

STRUT/SPRING: Ready to go low? For looks, performance, or replacing worn out OEM parts, we offer BC Racing Coilovers with nearly unlimited adjustment and tuning for your liking. These will fit the Camaro and ATS models.

ARMS: The ZZP Camaro Trailing arms / ATS Version are made of .120 tubular steel and have solid polyurethane bushings, far superior to the factory pressed sheet-metal arms with rubber bushings. There are 3 bars per side, so this complete set will include 6 total bars. The install should take less than two hours.

These are nearly the same arms that are installed in Turbo Tim's ATSV that runs in the Gridlife road course racing series, the only changes are the Camaro specific fitment. They are a huge improvement over stock. Far more stable in the rear around corners and straight line acceleration.

CHASSIS BRACING: Your best mods here are going to be a strut brace, followed by sway bars. The strut brace also doubles as a an engine bay dress up, if you want that nice show car look when popping your hood. We make an ATS Strut Brace and a Camaro Strut Brace, in red or black.

Next up for a big upgrade in handling you can get a sway bar or two. We offer front and rears for the ATS and camaro, and you have a few options. As you improve the ability of your car to stick to the road, you will notice an increase in body roll (or sway/lean). This is where a stiffer/larger sway bar setup becomes beneficial. Sway bars work by distributing the upward/downward force of the car evenly from left to right, in an attempt to keep the car level (eliminate the heavy lean, or body roll while turning) the factory sway bars are sufficient for a factory suspension/tire setup, but once you change things out, they are no longer stiff enough. This is where the larger diameter/stiffer sway bars come in, they will help keep all 4 tires planted firmly on the pavement, and drastically improve your cars handling ability. These sway bar swill transform your every day driver into a vehicle worthy of a road course:

ZZP ATS/Camaro Front Sway Bar

ZZP ATS Rear Sway Bar

Eibach ATS Sway Bars

ZL1 Front Sway Bar

ZL1 Rear Sway Bar

 

Check out the video on YouTube for more.