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

Posted by Tyler Vogt on



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.  

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.

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.

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.

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. We offer it with, or without, a catalytic converter; if you order it without a cat the downpipe is intended for off-road use and racing only. Our downpipe can be used with the stock turbo, and any of our upgraded turbo offerings.

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. 

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 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. 

At any time during your process you could purchase either our LTG larger throttle body kit, which is simply a larger diameter throttle body which is less restrictive and provides more throttle response; or if you have an ATS you can purchase our stainless steel cat-back exhaust which frees up exhaust flow and lessens factory restrictions.


Check out the video on YouTube for more.