SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 21,645 Price As Tested $ 25,305 Engine Type OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 346 cid/5666 cc Horsepower 310 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 340 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 101.1"/74.1"/193.5" Transmission Six-speed manual Curb Weight 3614 pounds Fuel Capacity 16.8 gallons Tires (F/R) P235/55R16 touring Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Four-passenger/two-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 18/27/22 0-60 MPH 6.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 14.0 seconds @ 105.0 mph Top-speed 140 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
The Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is an automotive icon. After spending its first 10 years or so being a true performance car, it suffered through the gas crisis of the '70s and '80s with embarrassing low amounts of horsepower and choking emissions control systems.
But the last few years have been enjoyable for the Z28 because it again offers sparkling performance at an affordable price.
OUTSIDE - General Motors likes to design its muscle cars with styling risks that other members of the GM clan don't employ. The new Camaro uses a wind-cheating bullet-like aerodynamic shape, though coefficient of drag estimates were unavailable at press time. Its shape begins at the pointed nose, where a huge grille opening feeds fresh air into the engine bay. There are a pair of fog lamps at the far corners of the front end, and they are deeply recessed into the molded nose cone. The sculpted headlights are shaped with swooping curves across the top, a feature repeated across the hood to the base of the windshield. The rear spoiler isn't garish, and it integrates beautifully with the short trunk lid. The standard Z28 tire and wheel combination utilizes 16-inch cast aluminum wheels and wide P235/55R16 touring tires.
INSIDE - The Camaro's cockpit-like interior features deeply recessed front bucket seats that offer plenty of lateral and thigh support as well as multiple adjustment from its optional six-way power system. The leather upholstery is an optional on Z28 models It's sturdy and durable, but sticky and hot of summer days. The back seat is cramped for full-sized adults, but there are enough seat belts to legally carry two in back in cramped misery - but then the Z28 was never meant to be a primary means of multiple passenger transport. The dashboard is laid out nicely, with controls that fall easily to the hand, but we could do without the tacky look and feel of the knobs and switches. Standard features include air conditioning and a "Monsoon" AM/FM/cassette player with 8 speakers and up to 500 watts of power.
ON THE ROAD - Any shortcomings we've mentioned previously are maore than made up for with Z28's powertrain. It's a 5.7-liter V8, all-aluminum thumper labeled the LS1 and it's the engine that originally appeared in the latest version of the Corvette. It uses a traditional layout, with two-valves per cylinder and a single camshaft located inside the block instead of on top of the heads like so many sophisticated engines of today. This isn't a problem, however, since it produces 310 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of tire-smoking torque. Launching to 60 MPH in just six seconds, the Z28 is a perfect candidate to win grudge-match races at the local drag strip on Wednesday nights provided its driver can keep the rear wheels from breaking traction. Fortunately traction control, a Z28 optional feature, can help keep its driver from prematurely wearing out the rear tires.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Z28 sits atop a unitbody chassis. The short/long arm front suspension consists of upper controls arms mounted high to reduce loads, a 30 millemeter stabilizer bar and special DeCarbon gas-pressurized shock absorbers. The rear end uses a solid, or "live" axle, fitted with an optional limited-slip differential for extra traction. A 19 millimeter stabilizer bars and gas shocks are part of the rear suspension package. It handles well enough through tight, slalom- like corners but it's relatively heavy and cumbersome compared to its direct comeptition. The power rack-and-pinion steering system is somewhat stiff, but offers good road feel that contributes to its overall performance orientation. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are standard, a feature we're pleased to note. The Z28 stops almost as well as it goes.
SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-imact door beams are standard; traction control is optional.
OPTIONS - Preferred Equipment Group (6-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel w/ radio controls, rear floor mats, bodyside moldings), $1715; Traction Control, $450; leather upholstery, $500; removeable roof panels (T-tops) $995.