2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 First Ride
Chevrolet told us...
We were told that the automaker would only bring back the Z/28 moniker if there was a car that warranted the badge. You can't simply slap together a few performance bits, gather some marketing folk to drum up a cliche-laden press release, and then shove a poorly thought out machine down the throats of the waiting Bow Tie-brand fans.
No, General Motors knows they need to deliver something special with a modern Camaro Z/28. The world wants to know if they've done that… and the answer is holy hell yes.
Let's get something straight right from the outset. Chevrolet hasn't created a daily driver dream machine. Unless of course, your preferred dream consists of a race-derived dynamic spool suspension system, no air conditioning, massive carbon ceramic brakes, and R compound barely legal street tires. Wait, this is Motor Authority, right? Then that is exactly what you've been dreaming about.
Look again, look harder, and look longer. All of the body bits you see on the car create downforce. So much, in fact, that the Z/28 creates an additional 400 pounds of downforce compared to the Camaro SS. This happens thanks to the massive front splitter, the heat extractor in the hood, the side sills, and large rear spoiler. Additionally, there are underbody aero bits that also work to keep the car glued to the road.
Chevrolet knew they wanted to make this a lightweight dancing queen. That's why the automaker opted for the LS7 instead of the LSA. It's a 7.0-liter V-8 engine that producer 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque, and it also happens to be 63 pounds lighter than the LSA. A majority of that torque is available between 1,250 rpm and 2,000 rpm, with peak torque occurring up at 4,800 rpm. Peak horsepower is produced at 6,100 rpm.
It's not just the motor that makes with the magic, however, as Chevy engineers were focused on making the Z/28 a well-rounded track machine. This means they had to pay serious attention to the brakes, suspension, and tires. Not only did they pay attention, but they turned to companies with expert knowledge on these subjects for help. For example, Brembo supplies the standard carbon ceramic brakes. Up front sit a pair of massive 15.5-inch rotors with six-piston calipers, while the rear units are 15.3-inch rotors clamped down upon by four-piston calipers.
For the rubber that meets the road, Chevrolet turned to Pirelli. What Pirelli came back with are the largest front tires ever fitted to a production car. The Camaro Z/28 wears 305/30-ZR19 Pirelli Trofeo R tires at each corner, which basically means that Chevy has brought a rubber gun to a rubber knife fight. Some might see this as cheating, but we think it's picking the best tool for the task at hand… which is creating a wickedly fast track assassin.
Even more impressive than the brakes and tires, however, is the suspension setup. It's clear that Chevrolet went above the call of duty by turning to Brembo and Pirelli for braking and tire needs. When it comes to the suspension though, the automaker has soared above the call of duty and is now forging new ground in the production car world. Chevy teamed up with a company by the name of Multimatic to develop the ride and handling of the Z28. Does that name not ring a bell? Well, it should because Multimatic created a new suspension system back in 2002 that has taken the motorsports world by storm.
It's called the Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve system, or DSSV for short, and it allows engineers to produce the exact amount of compression and rebound predictability, repeatability, and accuracy that a given car needs. The system works so well that many racing teams have adopted the technology. We're not talking about LeMons or ChumpCar teams here.
A number of the top Formula One teams rely on this technology, including Red Bull Racing, which means the Multimatic system could claim a part of the 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, and (most likely) the 2013 F1 Constructor's Championship. There are also many LMP teams running the system, with 20 of the 56 entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans utilizing DSSV dampers.
Multimatic is hoping that Chevrolet helps bring the DSSV damper system to a wider audience and it should once you dive a bit deeper into what it can do. According to Multimatic, when an automaker designs a damper system for a car, they want to be able to repeat their initial results with a 10 percent margin of error across production. On the other end of the scale, F1 teams need that margin of error down to just a half a percent. The Z/28 rings in at two percent.
This car is officially dialed in.