Unveiled at the 2013 New York Auto Show, GM's latest Camaro offering, slated for the 2014 model year, draws on over forty years of pony car fame. The Z/28 package has been absent since the Camaro's reintroduction at the beginning of the decade. The original Z/28 was designed and built with Trans-Am racing in mind, and according to Chevrolet the 2014 version has similarly been built with the track in mind.
The car is now the newest of four available hot Camaros, and slots in somewhere between the 1LE (the $3,500 track package for the SS) and the 580 horsepower ZL1. There are a few little changes to make the car lighter, and overall it weighs around 300 pounds less than the ZL1, but the Z/28 is still a heavy car. But with that characteristically large weight, there is the characteristically high power to go with it. With an LS7 V-8 similar to the one you get in the Corvette Z06, the new Z/28 makes 500 horsepower and 470 lb/ft of torque, all of with runs through Chevy's excellent TREMEC 6-speed manual and a limited slip differential. As for track-specific elements, the Z/28 features an aerodynamic kit on the body to produce downforce and keep the rear wheels planted, including a pretty large front splitter that connects to an underbody panel to reduce aerodynamic lift. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, lighter wheels, sticky Pirelli tires, a dry-sump oil system, and cooling systems for the transmission and differential are other track-oriented characteristics.
On the inside, Recaro racing seats with "Z/28" lettering on the headrest keep the driver and passenger firmly planted during hard cornering. To save weight, these seats are manually adjusted. The rear seats are lightened but still present, as GM felt the Camaro should still always be a 2+2 rather than just a heavier Corvette. A flat-bottom steering wheel like that in the 1LE and ZL1 is also a good touch that frees up legroom. On the outside, meanwhile, other than the vent in the hood and the subtle aerodynamic touches, the Z/28 carries over the same changes to the bodywork as the rest of the updated 2014 Camaro lineup. These changes overall are quite subtle and aren't exactly better or worse, they're just different.
The Z/28 will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the lineup. The Camaro is already widely praised in the motoring press and arguably the best of this crop of modern muscle cars. The Z/28 will now offer the amenities desired by the track-minded customer and will probably turn faster lap times than the more expensive ZL1. It also, of course, has the magic attached to the Z/28 name. Generations of car people have respected it since it was introduced in 1967, and this new version seems poised to pique the interests of the younger, newer drivers out there for some time to come. If Ford Mustang, this car is going to be a tough act to follow.