Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 03

Even if all you want is ‘that car’ from Transformers, you’ll still have quite a few decisions to make before you can submit your order. Why? Because the Chevrolet Camaro range is just too darn complicated.

A Camaro LS and LT would get you a V6 under the hood, while an SS upgrades you to a V8 – the last two available with the RS styling package. Then comes the tricky part. Come 2011 the ZL1 debuted with a 580 hp/756 Nm supercharged V8, while a year later the 1LE performance pack was introduced for the SS model. Still with me?

To add to our confusion, here’s yet another new variant, the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Apparently that’s the most iconic model name in Camaro history, not that we’d know it. It gets a massive 7.0 litre LS7 V8 engine and is claimed to be the most track-capable Camaro ever. But, it only has 500 hp and 637 Nm of torque, so the ZL1 is the more powerful model. Huh?

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 02

What sets the manual-only Z/28 apart is its weight, or lack thereof. It’s 136 kg lighter than the ZL1; achieved by throwing out non-track essentials such as the audio system, tyre repair kit, interior sound insulation, carpet in the boot, fog lights and even air conditioning, though the last item is still an option. A lighter battery, thinner glass and standard lightweight halogen lights (no xenons for you) round up the diet programme.

The singular focus of the Camaro Z/28 is most evident in the chassis, sporting race-proven spool-valve dampers, stiffer spring rates and suspension bushings for improved cornering response and grip. Ultra wide 305-section Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres are used alongside large diameter Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix braking system.

All that allows the Camaro Z/28 to pull 1.05 g in cornering and 1.5 g in deceleration. Chevrolet claims that it’s three seconds faster per lap than the Camaro ZL1, as it forgoes ultimate horsepower and torque for improved weight balance and track performance.

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 08

The entire 2014-model year Camaro range gets a revised exterior design, now with slimmer, more aggressive headlights and simpler joined rear lamps. Unique to the Z/28 are the deep kerb-hunting front splitter, wheel arch extensions, boot spoiler and mega-sized diffuser. The wheels are smaller for a change, at 19-inches versus the SS and ZL1’s heavier 20s.

Inside, suede-trimmed Recaro seats and the ZL1’s flat-bottomed steering wheel are fitted as standard, while the ‘Octane’ matte-metallic panels are specific to the Z/28. Lighter rear seats are used to save weight, which begs the question – why bother stripping out the radio and air-con if you’re going to leave the rear seats intact?

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is probably the only American sports car that’s more capable at carving corners than it is at tearing up the straights. Does that make it more appealing, or do you prefer a traditional Yank tank?