We’ll admit, the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 might seem completely illogical. For a $17,200 premium over the supercharged Camaro ZL1, you forfeit 75 horsepower as well as air conditioning. The wheels drop in size. Magnetic ride control, HID headlights, and the head-up display disappear. A single-speaker audio system — don’t call it a stereo — replaces the ZL1’s nine-speaker Boston Acoustics setup. Clearly, the shopper who walks into a dealership clutching a copy of Consumer Reports is not going to walk out with a Camaro Z/28.
Chevy didn’t build the Z/28 for the logical buyer. Chevy built the Z/28 for hardcore car geeks. All you have to do is drive this hyper-focused Camaro on a racing circuit to see, or rather feel, why this car exists and why it’s an All-Star.
Strictly stick: The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 comes only with a six-speed manual transmission; no automatic is available.
The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is one of the few vehicles where the oft-heard phrase, “it drives like a street-legal race car,” actually is true. Its speed and pace on the track along with its ability to shrug off abuse are phenomenal. Mega-wide, mega-sticky 305/30ZR-19 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires sit at all four corners. The trick Multimatic dampers have only been used on one other road car, the $1.4 million Aston Martin One-77.
Their Formula 1-style spool valves give the 3,820-pound Camaro fantastic wheel and body control, allowing the grippy Italian tires to work their magic. The extreme nature of the Z/28 continues with its “flying car mode,” which came about from testing at the Nürburgring and ensures that engine power isn’t cut when the car gets airborne. Giant carbon-ceramic brakes round out the buttoned-down, track-focused chassis.
For power, the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 uses one of the best V-8 engines in GM’s rich history, the 7.0-liter LS7 from the last-generation (C6) Corvette Z06. It’s nearly 65 pounds lighter than the Camaro ZL1’s LSA V-8 and plays a soundtrack from the gods. The 505-hp LS7 screams to its 7,000-rpm redline like an engine half its size and is a clear reminder why the naturally aspirated engine must never be allowed to die.
Measures great and small tell you about this car. Our favorite example of the latter: To maximize cooling air to the radiator, Chevy hollowed out the bowtie emblem in the front grill — creating, yes, the “flowtie.” Ratio-swapping duties are handled via
a firm yet positive, close-ratio six-speed manual. No automatic transmission is offered. This isn’t a Camaro for poseurs.
Sure, the Camaro ZL1 is the better ponycar for most, but for those who understand the Z/28 and frequent a racetrack, it’s a glorious gift from left field. “The Z/28
gives you the sense that there are people at General Motors who really know what makes a great driver’s car,” senior editor David Zenlea said. “It’s a 180-degree turn from the Camaro SS that debuted in 2009.” So, yes, the $75,000 Camaro Z/28 may
be illogical, but it’s illogical in the most wonderful way possible.
Read about the other 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars:
- Alfa Romeo 4C
- BMW i8
- BMW 2 Series
- Ford Mustang
- Honda Fit
- Lamborghini Huracán
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Subaru WRX/WRX STI
- Volkswagen Golf GTI
2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Specifications
- Base price: $75,000
- As-tested price: $75,000
- Engine: 7.0-liter OHV 16-valve V-8/505 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 481 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
- EPA Mileage (city/highway/combined): 13/19/15 mpg
Click here to read about all the 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Star awards.