The Z/28 is back! During its press conference at the 2013 New York auto show, General Motors dropped a bombshell on the packed house with the formal announcement of the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, the centerpiece of its revamped 2014 Camaro lineup. With the lights dimmed and a soundtrack of an engine revving, the bright white Z/28 rolled on stage for the first time.
Sporting a revamped grille, hood, re-styled taillights and a rear diffuser, the obvious first impression was its more aggressive style. Thankfully, its looks are much more than just for show, as Chevy says the Z/28 -- powered by GM's naturally aspirated LS7 V-8 with 500 horsepower -- outperforms the ZL1 at the track, with lap times as much as 3-seconds faster than its supercharged, 580-hp stablemate.
"As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28," said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America in a release announcing the new Z/28. "The build sheet is the wish list of any racer: lightweight, high-revving, dry-sump LS7 engine; carbon-ceramic brakes; integrated coolers for track use; true aerodynamic downforce, and a significant reduction in curb weight. This car could only be called the Z/28."
The Z/28 will be equipped with a version of GM's 7.0L (427 cid) V-8, and uses a number of high-performance components, including:
- Titanium intake valves and connecting rods, and sodium-filled exhaust valves
- CNC-ported aluminum cylinder heads
- Forged-steel crankshaft and main bearing caps
- High-lift camshaft
- Hydroformed exhaust headers
- 11.0:1 compression ratio, and a 7,000 rpm redline
- 10.5-quart, dry-sump oiling system
The three main performance upgrades for the 2014 Camaro Z/28 are as follows:
- Increased grip due to comprehensive chassis revisions
- Increased stopping power due to Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes
- Reduced curb weight that's roughly 300 pounds less than the supercharged Camaro ZL1, thanks to lightweight wheels, thinner rear-window glass, and other structural changes including an A/C delete option
With the Mustang's upcoming 50th anniversary next year, Chevy needs to keep the Camaro's momentum going until it can be completely redesigned, and rolling out the track-attacking Z/28 should keep things interesting. On paper, it certainly looks as though this naturally aspirated muscle car will live-up its historic title. The LS7 7.0L V-8 will push some 500 horses and 470 lb-ft of torque in the Z/28 application. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and the A/C system is optional in a further nod to reducing weight.
For the interior, the Z/28 will feature trim in a distinctive, matte-metallic finish named Octane. The steering will be controlled by the ZL1's flat-bottomed wheel, and the seats will be Recaro seats with microfiber suede inserts. Chevy has reduced weight by incorporating manual adjustments for the seats, and has removed 9 lbs. from the rear seat.
"We set out to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street-legal," Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, said in a release for the new Z/28. "While the Camaro ZL1 offers exceptional performance on the street, the drag strip, and the track, the Z/28 is entirely focused on the track performance. The Z/28 will be too track-focused for most drivers, but offers road-racers one of the most capable track cars ever."
The Z/28 joins the base Camaro V-6, Camaro SS, and ZL1 for the 2014 model year, and while most of the lineup is essentially a carryover with the same powertrains, several of the exterior updates found on the Z/28, namely the new front clip and rear end updates, will be applied to the rest of the Camaro stable. The 2014 model year marks the beginning of a new performance era for Chevrolet; the manufacturer is releasing a line-up of sports cars that includes the 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe and convertible and 2014 Chevrolet Sedan SS in addition to the updated Camaro. With the addition of the Z/28, it's likely that the Camaro will retain its title as the best-selling sports car in America for some time to come.
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