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Ever since General Motors revived the Camaro name at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, there's been one persistent question: When will there be a Z/28? The answer has been ducked, dodged, spun, and thwarted ever since, but today, Chevy finally gave us an answer: the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
It was worth the wait.
The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, making its official debut at the 2013 New York Auto Show, not only revives the Z/28 badge, but it returns it to its original intent. This is a car meant for hardcore racers, bent on taking their car to the track. And when we mean racers, we mean race teams; weekend racer types have the 1LE performance package to keep them happy. The Z/28 weighs 300 pounds less than the 500-horsepower Camaro ZL1--and 100 pounds less than the standard Camaro SS--thanks to features like thinner glass, a lack of trunk trim and sound deadening, and an audio system reduced to just one speaker...and that's just so you can hear the seatbelt chime. Air conditioning is an option, and if you want HID headlights or fog lights, you're out of luck.
So what do you get in return for stripping all the content out of the Camaro? There's a 500-horsepower 7.0-liter V-8 engine under the hood, connected exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. The suspension is race-tuned, ditching the complicated (and heavier) adjustable Magnaride suspension of the supercharged ZL1 Camaro for a straightforward setup. The brakes are big, carbon-ceramic disks, designed for maximum braking power and heat dissipation. An exclusive aerodynamics package helps improve downforce at high speeds, helping keep the Z/28 glued to the track.
And all of it comes wrapped in new sheetmetal, the only thing the Z/28 shares with the rest of the Camaro lineup. The narrower grille, redesigned headlights, and refined taillights help evolve and advance the styling, all while maintaining the classic proportions and look of the current-generation Camaro.
Who It's For
The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 further stratifies the Camaro lineup, adding a fifth layer. At the bottom is the standard Camaro, with a V-6 engine; it's aimed at those who want the look, but aren't performance die-hards. The Camaro SS adds the 6.2-liter V-8 who want the rumble with the looks. Camaro V-8 buyers can opt for the 1LE package, a track-oriented version of the car meant for club racers. Atop them all is the supercharged ZL1, with a 550-hp V-8 engine and an impressive performance resume.
The Z/28 is, for all intents and purposes, a racecar that's dialed back just enough to be street legal. Yes, that's a cliché, but in this case it's true. You can drive the Z/28 on the streets if you like, commuting to work, running errands, etc. But if that's all you're doing in this car, you're missing the point. If you want the highest-performing Camaro you can buy--Chevy says it's three seconds faster than the ZL1, although it doesn't say what track it's talking about--this is it.
Part of what makes the 2014 Chevrolet Z/28 stand out is what it doesn't have. In addition to the big V-8, high-performance brakes, and other chassis tweaks, the Z/28 also gets (or loses):
- There's no spare, and no fix-a-flat kit, except in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, where they're required by law
- A new sport seat, designed exclusively for the Z/28, but which will be available as an option in other Camaros
- Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser claims Chevy was so obsessive about saving weight that his team even stripped out unused wires from the wiring harness
What We Think
This is a solid move for Chevrolet. The 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 not only revives a famed moniker--who doesn't remember the "Z/28" badges on those 80s and 90s Camaros?--it brings it back without the headbangers-and-mullets baggage that those previous iterations created. This is a true racecar, one ready for the track. Will some people just buy it to cruise around in? Sure. But they'll be missing the whole point.
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