Since debuting in 2012, the ZL1 trim has topped the Camaro range, thanks to is 580-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 powerplant and other performance-oriented components. Well, the ZL1 will lose its spot atop the retail Camaro lineup in 2014, as the model’s chief engineer confirmed to Jay Leno that the new-for-2014 Z/28 model will top the ZL1’s $56,500 base price.
To the layman, a 580-horsepower car within the same lineup should always cost more than a 500-horsepower variant of the same model. However, the Z/28 is far more than just a "numbers" car, as it is a track-tuned beast with components typically reserved for top-line European exotics . And it’s these components that make the Camaro Z/28 the new range topper, so let’s have a look at them.
The most obvious of additions is the 7.0-liter V-8 that it borrowed from the Corvette Z06, but Chevy added to that a 10.5-quart dry-sump oiling system to handle keeping the engine lubricated when fighting 1.05g of lateral force in the corners and a liquid-to-liquid oil-cooling system.
The engine is nothing short of awesome, but where the real fun comes is in the suspension and brakes. First, GM added in spool-valve dampers that are usually reserved for road-racing and exotic cars. These dampers offer four-way tuning for the bump and rebound, which allowed engineers to stiffen the dampers without making the ride overly harsh. Also added in are stiffer-rate springs and stiffer bushings, which are the often-overlooked components that help minimize body roll in the corners.
Next came the super-wide 19-inch aluminum wheels that not only save 42 pounds in unsprung weight, but also drop the ride height by 33 mm (1.3 inches) and afford the real estate needed to install some sticky 305/30ZR19 Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires — this is the first time these tires see use on a production model.
The last addition comes by way of a set of standard — yes, I said "standard" — Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix rotors, which are expensive options on plenty of models that eclipse the $100k mark. Up front, these pricey rotors measure 394-by-36 mm (15.5-by-1.4 inch) and are squeezed by six-pot calipers. The rear rotors are 390-by-32 mm (15.4-by-1.3 inches) and are gripped by four-piston calipers. Not only do these CCM brakes save another 28 pounds in unsprung weight, but they also play a key role in the Z/28 producing 1.5g in deceleration force. so buckle your seatbelts, folks.
Now for addition by subtraction, as Chevy eliminated the tire-inflation kit, all sound-deadening materials, trunk carpeting, HID headlights, fog lights and air-conditioning (optional) to help shave more weight. It then installed 3.2 mm (0.125-inch) glass in the rear, which is 0.3 mm (0.0118 inches) thinner than the standard glass, and replaced the standard battery with a smaller battery. These deductions, combined with the other weight-saving measures, leave the Z/28’s weight a stunning 300 pounds less than the ZL1 and 100 pounds less than the SS.
With all this precision tuning and additions, it becomes crystal clear exactly why the powerful ZL1 loses its top spot in the lineup.
gallery: Chevrolet Camaro Z/28