Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is Motor Trend’s 2014 Best Driver’s Car. It’s the first American-brand car to win the 7-year-old award.
The Best Driver’s Car contenders are selected from all new or significantly revised performance cars launched in the 12 months prior to the test. To pick the winner, the editors of Motor Trend conduct objective and subjective testing – including digitally instrumented laps at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and high-speed driving up and down a 4.3-mile hill climb on a closed rural highway – to determine which car delivers the most engaging experience behind the wheel.
After completing that battery of tests, the editors of Motor Trend wrote:
“The transformation of the fifth-generation Camaro from ‘muscle car that handles pretty well’ to Best Driver’s Car winner is astounding. You feel the superior engineering in how the car responds to inputs both internal and external. From within, the car reacts immediately and precisely to your commands but doesn’t punish your mistakes. From the outside, the Z/28’s suspension attacks bumps and dips with an unbridled passion for keeping the tires on the pavement.”
“The mission for the new Z/28 was to create the most capable, best-handling Camaro in our history,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors’ executive vice president, Global Product Development. “As such, I can’t think of a better validation of that mission than for the Z/28 to be named Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car.”
The Camaro Z/28 builds on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. Its unique exterior is designed like a race car to produce downforce that presses the car against the track for greater grip and faster lap times. Comprehensive chassis and suspension changes, including a lower center of gravity, specific stabilizer bars, higher-rate coil springs and other chassis and suspension features have been optimized for the track – enabling more than 1.08 g in lateral acceleration and 1.5 g in deceleration.
Racing-bred dampers, tires and Brembo carbon ceramic brakes play important roles in not only maximizing performance, but making it more predictable and consistent with every lap. Engineers also made sure the Z/28 was as light as possible to maximize its power-to-weight ratio. Everything from lightweight wheels to thinner rear-window glass is used to reduce curb weight and improve the overall weight balance. The carbon ceramic brake rotors, for example, collectively save more than 20 pounds of unsprung weight, compared to the Camaro SS.
In fact, 100 percent of the unsprung mass – suspension, wheels, tires and brake system – has been changed from the Camaro SS, dramatically enhancing the balance and overall driving feel of the Z/28.
A 7.0L LS7 V-8 rated at 505 horsepower (376 kW) and 481 lb-ft of torque (652 Nm) complements the lightweight vehicle components to give the car an enviable 7.6:1 power-to-weight ratio. It was bred on the racetrack, with features designed for high-rpm performance and durability, including a durable forged-steel crankshaft, lightweight titanium connecting rods and high-flow cylinder heads with lightweight titanium intake valves.