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Old 06-27-2014, 12:28 AM   #155
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CAR Review of Z/28:

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Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 (2014) review
By Chris Chilton
First Drives
26 June 2014

The Chevrolet Camaro's Z/28 badge is as hallowed among US car fans as GT3 is to Porsche nuts, but this latest Zee, the first since 2002, is special because it’s the first for over four decades to really do the legendary name justice.

The original ’66-’69 Camaro Z/28 existed for one reason alone: to win the then-new SCCA Trans Am Championship, a kind of US version of the BTCC. It wasn’t a standalone model, instead Z/28 was simply the option code for a package that brought heavy duty suspension, quicker steering, plus a unique 4949cc (302-cubic inch displacement) V8 that fitted neatly under Trans Am’s 305-cid capacity limit, screamed to a most un-V8 like 6000rpm, and was cheekily underrated at 290bhp.

Chevy sold just 602 cars that first year, compared with 34,000 SS Camaros. Who’d have a 5.0 when you could have a 6.5 for less wedge? Racer Mark Donohue would. In the ’68 Trans Am season he won 10 out of 11 races to capture the championship, the first of two back-to-back series victories. But, mirroring what happened to BMW’s M3 two decades later, as the years passed, the lithe homologation special morphed into a high- (and, occasionally not very high-) speed GT. Thankfully, it’s now back on track, literally and metaphorically, coming closer in spirit to its progenitor than any M3 (bar the £120k GTS) has ever managed.

Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: prices, specs
The Z/28 costs significantly less than a M3 GTS, its $75k price converting to around £45,000, although something nearer £65k seems likely if GM Europe decides to officially import the car to Europe. Regardless of whether we’ll get it, that’s big money for a Camaro. The new BMW M3 and M4 undercut it. So does the Corvette Z06. And even if you are hell-bent on a Camaro, the fact that a 552bhp supercharged ZL1 version will leave you with $20k change would seem to seal the Z/28’s fate.

Or does it? Standing in the pitlane at Alabama’s Barber Motorsport Park, hot metal pinging like it’s been attacked by 1000 pea-shooter-wielding Beano tearaways, I’m not so sure. This is a properly sorted track car, one that’ll lap a damp Nordschleife in 7min 37sec in the hands of a proper driver, but is so friendly that even novices will find themselves cycling through the five ESP modes in short order.

The Z/28’s heart is the 7.0-litre LS7 V8 from the old Corvette Z06, as the new one is now supercharged to keep pace with Europe’s supercar elite. It’s a mighty engine, still a simple overhead valve V8 with one camshaft, but fortified with titanium rods to ensure longevity at the serious 7000rpm at which it’s capable of spinning.

Like the original ’67, there’s no auto option, and GM doesn’t have a suitable dual-clutch alternative. The manual shift is surprisingly slick, the throw short, and only a chasm between the brake and accelerator making heel-and-toeing a little more difficult than it should be, spoils the experience.

Performance of the Camaro Z/28
And what an experience. Despite weighing 136kg less than a ZL1, the perennially portly Camaro still totals 1724kg in Z/28 guise. You’re aware of that bulk, but it’s managed so well when braking and turning that it’s rarely an issue. Much of the credit must go to the pricey spool-valve dampers, fitted in place of the ZL1’s magnetorheological shocks, and used by only one other production car on the planet, according to Chevy: the £1m Aston One-77. Their internal design gives much better control of oil flow within the damper, allowing for more precise tuning of both bump and rebound and, on this evidence, delivers superb body control.

That performance is matched by ceramic brakes that resolutely refuse to fade and deliver a level of pedal feel many carbon-equipped supercars can’t match, plus some seriously sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres that work with a new limited-slip differential. There’s so much stick that the wheels themselves are now ‘media-blasted’ to make them grippier, because Chevy’s engineers found they were spinning within the tyres during fast lapping.

You could feasibly use a Z/28 as a road car, but that’s not its natural bent. The humungous front tyres cause tramlining and aren’t that great in the wet, there’s a fair amount of road noise, you’d be forever catching that front splitter, and the ride can get choppier than a Bruce Lee lookalike competition. To cap it all, hours spent in traffic would be give you time to notice the ropey cabin plastics.

Verdict
Chevrolet knows it will only sell a handful of Camaro Z/28s, and many will end up with collectors, mothballed in garages. Having driven it, that is a terrible waste. It’s not quite a budget GT3, but no mainstream European carmaker offers anything like it for the money.

Statistics
How much? £45,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 7011cc V8, 498bhp @ 6100rpm, 481lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 3.9sec 0-60mph, 175mph
How heavy / made of? 1724kg/steel
CAR's ratingRated 4 out of 5
Handling Rated 3 out of 5
Performance Rated 4 out of 5
Usability Rated 4 out of 5
Feelgood factor Rated 5 out of 5
Readers' rating Rated 4.5 out of 5
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:43 AM   #156
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LSX-TV: A wet & wild day with the Z/28:

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Behind the Wheel: A Wet and Wild Track Day with the Camaro Z/28

By Paul Huizenga
posted on Jun 26, 2014



One undeniably awesome aspect of working for Power Automedia is that every so often, we get invited to play with other people’s cars. Here at LSXtv, we’ve had the chance to try out the Camaro ZL1 on a road course and at the dragstrip, borrow a Z51 Stingray for a week, and even ride along with GM’s development drivers in the Z/28 at the Milford Proving Grounds.

Our latest adventure as the guest of Chevrolet was a trip to Gingerman Raceway in Michigan, and a chance to put the Z/28 through its paces, except this time we’d be behind the wheel ourselves. Most readers will need no introduction to the Z/28, but for the benefit of those who have been out of the loop, this car can be best described as what happens when the Camaro team gets free reign to build the ultimate track toy. Sure, there are some concessions to pesky things like regulations and practicality, but the Z/28 represents the Camaro distilled down to the essentials.

Power comes from the naturally-aspirated 7 liter LS7, sourced from the 6th generation Corvette line and found in the Z06 and 427 Convertible models. Hand-built just like it was in its Corvette days, the engine retains the 505 hp rating it had previously, but detail changes to the intake and exhaust broaden the already expansive torque range. Enormous carbon ceramic brakes, spool-valve dampers, and steamroller tires are all part of the package as well, and the Z/28 has several hundred fewer pounds to haul around than the previous top-dog Camaro, the supercharged ZL1.


Stripped to the Essentials

Back in the 1960′s when the US Air Force was just beginning to develop what would become one of the greatest fighter planes of the 20th century, the F-15 Eagle, the designers intentionally bucked the trend towards multirole aircraft that paid the penalty for flexibility with greater complexity, size, and cost. The guiding philosophy was, “Not a pound for air-to-ground” – the Eagle would be a pure air superiority weapon. Of course, once the aircraft entered service, the pressure to do more than just sling missiles at MiGs meant that the F-15 got heavier, more expensive, and eventually morphed into the two-seat E-model Strike Eagle, an excellent attack aircraft that is more than capable of escorting itself to targets inside contested airspace.


A removable panel under the hood normally keeps rain off the engine – take it out to maximize the extractor vent’s effectiveness and your intake’s going to get wet.

In a way, the Z/28 Camaro is the F-15 script run in reverse. When the 5th Gen Camaro debuted in the 2010 model year, it was an immediate hit, and interestingly enough, the V8 outsold the V6 – usually the situation is the other way around, with buyers drawn into the showroom with SS dreams but an RS budget.

While the 5th Gen was more powerful, more comfortable, and safer than the previous F-body cars that had bowed out in 2002, it was also a lot heavier thanks to the burden of additional safety and luxury features that became the norm in the intervening eight years.

With the Z/28, Camaro chief Al Oppenheiser explains that the mandate was to strip away anything that didn’t make the car lap a race course quicker. The only major available option is a package that adds air conditioning and stereo speakers, and we’re told that the debate over whether to offer it was intense; “not a pound for air and sound,” so to speak. The end result is a car that is as uncompromised for the mission as a major automotive manufacturer can offer.



When it Rains, it Pours

Having previously experienced the Z/28′s prowess from the passenger seat with a professional driver at the helm, we were both excited and anxious (in several senses of the word) to get behind the wheel on a racetrack ourselves. How would this 10/10ths Camaro perform in the hands of a 6/10ths (being generous) driver?

One of the reasons Gingerman Raceway in southwestern Michigan was selected as the venue for this press event is that it’s a forgiving track, designed by a racing enthusiast with safety in mind. It’s easier to explore a car’s limits (or in this case, your limits as a driver) in an environment where going past the edge isn’t punished with crumpled sheetmetal and profuse apologies to the hosts for wadding up their $75,000 car.

Unfortunately, one aspect of the experience that Chevrolet couldn’t control was the weather; specifically, the on-and-off torrential rainfall that plagued us throughout the day. While the Z/28′s Pirelli Trofeo tires grip dry pavement tenaciously, standing water in the corner apexes and general conditions that ranged from “moist” to “start gathering pairs of animals” were pretty far out of their design specs. Trying to find the ragged edge of the Camaro’s true performance under those circumstances would have been foolhardy even at what is arguably the country’s safest racetrack.

The good news, though, is that we did learn just how competent the Z/28 is even when you throw it a curve, like a wet track or a mediocre driver. While the majority of these cars that do get tracked (as opposed to sealed in bubble wrap by speculators) will be driven by owners who are already skilled enough to make full use of its extremely high potential, the Z/28 makes an excellent learning platform.



Doesn’t Bite When Cornered

In a way, the lack of traction was a blessing, because it let us see a side of the Z/28 that we probably wouldn’t have in the dry – how it handles as you approach the limit of adhesion. On a dry track, things would have happened very, very quickly (and possibly with bad consequences), but in the 60-percent conditions, every imperfection in the driving line, each lift of the throttle in mid-corner, all the over and under-driving that wouldn’t be obvious even at a 9/10ths pace in perfect weather provided clear feedback at a pace that was possible to absorb and learn from. Even as the track went from damp to full wet, we kept going faster and smoother, with the PTM and ABS safety net catching us every so often in a “teachable moment.”


Not ideal rain tires…

The Z/28 is so capable, well-sorted, and forgiving of nonsense that if you replaced those Trofeos with some rock-hard all season rubber to keep the car in that 60-percent zone on a dry track, it would be the perfect way to gain experience managing the car at full boogie without having to drive at full boogie speeds. Like we said before, most owners won’t need “training wheels” to learn how to wring all the sweet, sweet juice from this Camaro, but in the end we were glad we got to try it the way we did because we got more out of it than we probably would have in perfect weather.

So how about it, Chevrolet? Lend us a Z/28 to play with here at our sunny SoCal headquarters so we can use what we learned on that wet Michigan pavement…
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:04 PM   #157
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:51 PM   #158
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Great post for a great car! Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:19 PM   #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenthusiast View Post
Great post for a great car! Thanks.
Sure thing! Except for the Stingray, you have to get down to the Cayman S and BMW M4 to find similarly priced cars. What's the average MSRP of the top 11? Maybe we should exclude the 918 from that, given what an outlier it is...
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:02 PM   #160
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The "Contenders" page near the top of the article has the prices of the cars as tested. With the 918 excluded as an outlier the Z/28 still looks more than respectable.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:10 PM   #161
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Great Z/28 review.

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Old 06-04-2016, 03:43 AM   #162
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Missed article? Found this: http://articles.sae.org/12583/
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:18 PM   #163
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EVO Track car of the year contender.

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