The showdown: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 vs. Nissan GT-R for all the marbles
A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.Imagine, if you will, an email containing a first drive invitation for Chevrolet’s all-new Camaro Z/28. As you continue to thumb through, you notice a challenge of sorts – feel free to bring any competitor of your choice for a comparison. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 vs. 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition
Time to pick up the phone. Within 30 minutes a 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition is secured. Our Z/28 first drive was to be a showdown between American muscle and Japanese finesse. The venue for our battle: the Barber Motorsport Park in Birmingham, Ala. — a track with curves as unpredictable as Sandy Koufax, and more crests than Ben Nevis.
I’d ridden in the passenger seat of a Z/28 test mule last year, and the grip level was astounding. The power from the 505-hp, 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 motor was punchy, and yet civilized. The issue back then was the carbon-ceramic brakes: “It doesn’t stop how I’d like it,” the Chevrolet engineer, who was in the driver’s seat, told me.
Fast-forward a month and it was determined that the Pirelli Trofeo R tires were slipping on the rim. Just 10-degrees, they thought — until they realized that 10 was more like 370. After blasting some abrasive grit to the surface of the rim, the problem was solved.
And so here I was. The finished product sat in an open garage at Barber, flurries of mechanics warming her up. I was summoned to the mandatory — keep the shiny side up, don't bruise our baby — safety briefing.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 vs. 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition
Ironically, Steve was the name given to the Z/28 back when the idea to revive the iconic moniker was envisaged. Only key individuals within the GM Empire knew Steve was not the engineers’ coffee boy, but actually the most capable Camaro ever.
It’s also the most expensive. But, at $75,000, listen to what arrives as standard: Carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, dampers by Multimatic — the same company that supplies the Red Bull F1 team and the first production application outside of the exclusive Aston Martin One77 — and the aforementioned tires.
Those tires. Originally built for an amateur Porsche racing series in Europe, they’re practically slicks. With less tread than Mini Me, in the dry, they’re stunning. However, when it rains, as it did in the closing moments of the car’s timed Nurburgring run — where it still lapped faster than a Lexus LFA — spare underwear becomes a necessary option. Quick hands, too.
Back to the price. Here’s what you don’t get: Air conditioning (that’s an option – one you should definitely take, despite the roughly 30 lbs. weight penalty), a stereo, a navigation, or sound deadening.
The Z/28, then, is a race car. Only one with a usable trunk, backseats (left because they’re part of the car’s structure, and the weight saved by removing them and adding the necessary rigidity would make any gains negligible), and a license plate.
Why a $116,000 GT-R? Surely a Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca is more comparable? Chevrolet has tested the two at its Milford Proving Grounds and claims (and has evidence to back it up) that the Z/28 is more than five seconds faster. Having driven both, I don’t doubt that. And the Shelby GT500? Well, that’s slower than the Boss.