Camaro Z/28 vs. 911 Turbo S vs. GT-R Track Edition Comparison
Booya!: A German Rocket, A Japanese Missile, And An American Howitzer Walk Into A Bar Fight
One million years. As in, if you rewound the clock to 2009, never in one million years would I believe I'd be writing a story where a Camaro would be mentioned in the same sentence as a Nissan GT-R or a Porsche 911 Turbo S. I clearly remember the first time I drove a GT-R in anger because I ran into a pack of two Ferrari F430s, a 355 Spyder, a BMW M6, and a Dodge Viper in the canyons above Los Angeles. After a few miles, it became clear exactly who was driving the dominant supercar. (Hint: Me!) Likewise, I'll always remember the first time I got behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Turbo S, because every time I looked down, the speedometer claimed I was going 114 mph. And I'll never forget my first stab at a fifth-gen, Zeta-platform Chevrolet Camaro SS, because it was the only time I drove straight off Turn 3 at Streets of Willow. What a miserable, bad car. And yet, here we are. That's right, my friends, Motor Trend is pitting the new Camaro Z/28 against the 911 Turbo S and the Nissan GT-R Track Edition.
The Test NumbersChevrolet decided to launch the Z/28 at the impressive Barber Motorsports Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama, with a very cool caveat: Bring along any car you'd like. Going into this comparison test, our initial hope was for both the new Porsche GT3 and the 2015 GT-R Nismo. Sad to say, the Nismo won't be available for quite some time, and the GT3 (supposedly) got stuck on a boat, but Nissan was happy to supply us with a 2014 GT-R Track Edition. After some heated phone calls and emails, Porsche finally coughed up a brand-new 2014 911 Turbo S.
We're very familiar with the GT-R Track, having run it at last year's 2013 Best Driver's Car, where it placed sixth out of 12. This flavor of Godzilla comes packing a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 good for 545 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. The new Turbo S is (somehow) even more potent, as its twin-turbo, 3.8-liter boxer-six summons up an impressive 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. However, there's an overboost mode between 2200 and 4000 rpm that allows the Turbo S to generate 553 lb-ft of twisting force for short bursts. The Z/28 packs GM's familiar and fantastic hand-built LS7 lifted straight out of the C6 Z06, a 7.0-liter small-block pushrod V-8 that's good for 505 hp and 481 lb-ft.
Going strictly by numbers, it might appear Chevy brought a gun to a bomb fight. What does the Z/28 do in the quarter mile? "Don't know, we never launched it," said Al Oppenheiser, the seventh Camaro chief engineer in GM history. We're talking about a freaking Camaro that Chevy claims it never bothered to run down a dragstrip. Huh? Why not? Chevy says the Z/28 was developed with one mission in mind: track duty. We can tell you the Z/28 runs 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds and rips down the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds at 117.2 mph. Impressive numbers, until you remember its AWD opponents are two of the quickest-accelerating vehicles in the history of the automobile. Godzilla is, appropriately enough, a monster, hitting 60 mph in a blistering 2.7 seconds before knocking off the quarter mile in 11 seconds flat at 125.1 mph. Amazingly, the 911 Turbo S is (somehow, again) quicker, hitting 60 mph in a jaw-dropping 2.6 seconds and joining the ranks of the truly elite by turning a 10.9-second quarter mile at 123.7 mph. A couple of acceleration notes: The 991 Turbo S isn't really any quicker than the 997 model, as the previous-gen car hit 60 mph in 2.7 seconds and ran the quarter in 10.9 seconds at 127.4 mph. That 3.7-mph trap speed deficit is significant. Also, as far as 0-60-mph times go, we might be running into some sort of physics barrier, as the AWD Bugatti Veyron with its 1000-plus horses hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and that remains the quickest production car we've ever tested. Regardless, we're not surprised that the GT-R and Turbo S both whooped the Z/28 in a straight line. Hey, Chevy told us to bring any car.
On the RoadWe also brought a friend. Carlos Lago and I met up with our favorite professional race car driver and Southern son, Randy Pobst. Usually, we just toss Randy on the track and marvel as he works his magic. This time, we took Randy along for the road portion of the story, too. The three of us headed north to a particularly beautiful road our technical director Frank Markus hipped us to, and then went hog wild with three of the best-driving cars you can imagine. Surprisingly, we all liked the GT-R least. Part of the reason is how unrepentantly crude the thing is. One might assume the Camaro would be the worst-riding vehicle of the three. Or the loudest. Or the most uncomfortable. Only it totally isn't. That trophy rests on the GT-R's mantle. For the 20th time, what are those noises? I've heard printing presses with fewer mechanical howls. To be fair, Nissan is not only aware of the problem, but claims to have addressed ride quality and overall aural trauma with the softened 2015 model. Unfortunately, as with the Nismo, those cars weren't ready for this test.
We also didn't care for how it drove. As far as cars go, the GT-R is totally, mind-blowingly amazing. If anyone ever hands you the keys to one, grab them and don't let go. But within the confines of this comparison test, the GT-R came in last on the road. Said Pobst, "Still an awe-inspiring weapon with AWD cleats on its feet. Firm suspension is quick and controlled. Too controlled, in my opinion. The thrilling experience is dulled by too much understeer and a soundtrack by Hoover vacuums."
Second place was not unanimous. Full disclosure: Carlos didn't want the 911 Turbo S in this comparison. He was really pulling for the GT3. And he's right, a track-focused weapon would have made more sense than a leather-bound autobahn king. But we outvoted him. Here's what he said: "It's difficult for me to place the Turbo S in this group because its focus is broader than the Z/28 and GT-R. There's the all-weather capability, top-speed cruising, and other grand touring feats, like seat A/C." Carlos also pointed out that while the Z/28 rides on hyperaggressive 60 treadwear tires (and we'll get into tires more in the next section), the Turbo S came strapped with 220 treadwear shoes. Despite that, Carlos ranked the 911 first on the road. Randy and I both had it in second. It's faster than hell and handles incredibly well. But there's an X factor missing when it's run side by side with the Z/28. Too calm? Too easy? Too something. That said, in terms of driving dynamics, the 991 Turbo S is a big step forward compared with the 997 version.
Another caveat, if I may. Y'all heard about the Polar Vortex of 2014? We got whomped by it in Alabama. Temperatures were in the 20s and 30s for our entire trip. The Z/28 comes shod with massive 305/30R19 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo Rs at all four corners. They're about as racy a tire as you'll find on a street legal car, and Chevy claims it designed the Z/28 around the Pirellis. You have to get a great deal of heat into them before they work as intended.
Carlos on the tires: "Granted, our drive was in the worst possible conditions, but I worry about the way the Z/28 behaved on cold tires. I never quite trusted them cold. They improved greatly as they heated up. I'm looking forward to driving a Z/28 in a warmer climate." I wasn't troubled by the Z/28's tires (save for one patch of frozen chalk!) and maybe it's just how I'm programmed, but the car Randy and I would take home after the road loop is the dang Camaro. Double-clutch transmissions, AWD grip that lets you leap off a corner, and twin-turbo mills making huge gobs of power are great fun. But after driving all three machines back to back, the manual gearbox, RWD chassis, and naturally aspirated V-8 left the bigger smile on my face. Randy's face, too. This is the point in our story where you yell, "But that's just, like, your opinion, man!" Correct you are. Good thing we brought Randy.
Randy on the TrackThe track was a little bit wet because it had rained all night. The Nissan was first to run, and after four hot laps, Randy's best time around Barber's 2.4-mile circuit was 1:36.45. Next up was the potent Porsche, and it clicked off a quicker lap time of 1:36.34, beating the GT-R Track by 0.11 second. Finally, it was the Camaro's time to shine, but the best Randy could muster was 1:37.28. So there you go. The Camaro Z/28 lost to the bonkers Nissan and the German superfreak. The Chevy put up a good fight, but America, it seems, simply can't compete.
Just kidding!Turns out we had the tire pressures set wrong. After dropping 6 psi per wheel, Randy went back out and knocked over a second off his lap. Yes, friends, despite having less power, an antiquated row-your-own transmission, and only RWD, the Camaro Z/28 laid down a time of 1:36.17, beating the Porsche by a larger margin (0.17 second) than the Turbo S clipped Godzilla (0.11 second). I went into this comparison thinking the Z/28 would be pretty damn great, but, at the end of the day, not as skilled nor as fleet as the Nissan or Porsche.
How is this possible? Because instead of protecting Corvette -- say, the way Porsche protects the 911 from the Cayman -- Chevrolet turned the Camaro team loose and allowed it to build the best Z/28 it could. If you break down the car to its parts, it's a race car for the street. It's got Recaro buckets, Pankl connecting rods, Mahle pistons, Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes (co-developed and shared with the upcoming Z06), and Multimatic dynamic spool valve shocks. But it's not just a name-brand collection of parts, and the Z/28 is no tuner. It stands as one of absolutely the best track-focused cars in the world. A Camaro engineer ran around the Nürburgring Nordschleife (where the Z/28 was developed) in 7:37.47 in the rain. In dry conditions? "About neck and neck with the GT3," as Oppenheiser tells it. That's a 7:25 lap. Whatever way you slice it, beating the Turbo S and GT-R on this track is an absolutely incredible accomplishment. Hats off to Mr. Oppenheiser and his team of track rat engineers for achieving -- in my mind at least -- the unthinkable.
Apologists for the slower cars (ha!) might raise the following points. The 911 Turbo S was on Pirelli P Zeros, essentially a street tire. Stickier Dunlop SportMaxx tires are an option but were no-shows. And, of course, the Turbo S is a nearly $200K luxury GT car, not the hardcore GT3. Nissan fans will say, what about the 2015 GT-R? Or, better yet, the 600-hp Nismo version? Fair points, all of them. But, of course, I could add that Randy could have run the car that didn't have an A/C compressor and just one speaker -- it's about 50 pounds lighter -- and/or dropped a few more psi out of the rear tires like he wanted.
The good news is that, this summer, the Z/28, the GT3, and the GT-R Nismo will all be at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for our 2014 Best Driver's Car competition. Until we can settle things further, allow me to leave you with what GM second-in-command and head of product development Mark Reuss wrote when informed that the Z/28 beat the other cars: "Booya."
3rd Place: Nissan GT-R Track EditionOld soldiers never die, they just fade away. Still a monster, but long in the tooth. The 2015 refresh arrives none too soon.
2nd Place: Porsche 911 Turbo SOne of the quickest production cars of all time, the Turbo S is caught in a weird space between grand touring and track attack.
1st Place: Chevrolet Camaro Z/28Impressive. Most impressive. The General flexes its red, white, and blue muscles. Simply put, this is Chevy at its best.
Close Shave at Barber Motorsports ParkBy: Kim Reynolds
Here’s a description of performance you’d never expect to read: In their individual fastest laps, the Camaro Z/28 often beat the GT-R and 911 Turbo through Barber Motorsports Park’s most challenging corners, while the German and the Japanese cars repeatedly out-dragged the Chevrolet down the straights. Really? Really. And those wiggly lines don’t just tell a simple story of a Z/28 shod with absurdly grippy shoes. The Camaro found its greatest time gains in the high-speed corners and the trickiest transitions -- places where a car has to give you plenty of confidence to really lean on it. Take a look at Turns 9, 11, 12, and 13 -- these are white-knucklers.
Moreover, although the steepness of their braking rates is quite similar, if you inspect the traces closely, the Z/28 also stops fractionally harder and sometimes deeper into the corners. An interesting contrast between the GT-R and the 911 happens through Turns 12, 13, and 14. The Nissan slows more for the corners, but accelerates much harder out of them. At the finish, the 911 Turbo trails the Z/28 by 38 feet, with the GT-R 60 feet astern.
|2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28||2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition||2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD||Front-engine, AWD||Rear-engine, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||90-deg V-8, aluminum block/heads||Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads||Twin-turbo flat-6, aluminum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||427.9 cu in/7011 cc||231.8 cu in/3799 cc||231.9 cu in/3800 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||505 hp @ 6100 rpm*||545 hp @ 6400 rpm||560 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||481 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm*||463 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm||516 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm**|
|REDLINE||7000 rpm||7000 rpm||7000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||7.6 lb/hp||7.1 lb/hp||6.4 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual||6-speed twin-cl auto||7-speed twin-cl auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||15.5-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc; 15.3-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc, ABS||15.4-in vented, drilled disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled disc, ABS||16.1-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc; 15.4-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||11.0 x 19-in; 11.5 x 19-in, forged aluminum||9.5 x 20 in; 10.5 x 20 in, forged aluminum||9.0 x 20-in; 11.5 x 20-in forged aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R|| 305/30R19 102Y|
Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R
| 255/40R20 97Y; 285/35R20 100Y|
Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600 DSST CTT
| 245/35R20 91Y; 305/30R20 103Y|
Pirelli P Zero
|WHEELBASE||112.3 in||109.4 in||96.5 in|
|TRACK, F/R||66.1/64.7 in||62.6/63.0 in||60.6/62.6 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||192.3 x 76.9 x 52.4 in||183.8 x 74.6 x 53.9 in||177.4 x 74.0 x 51.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||37.7 ft (est)||36.6 ft||34.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3857 lb||3880 lb||3610 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||53/47%||55/45%||39/61%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.4/35.3 in||38.1/- in||37.8/26.0 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.4/29.9 in||44.6/- in||66.7/26.0 in (est)|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.9/42.5 in||54.3/- in||53.4/47.3 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||11.3 cu ft||8.8 cu ft||9.2 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.7 sec||1.0 sec||1.0 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.8||1.4||1.3|
|QUARTER MILE||12.3 sec @ 117.2 mph||11.0 sec @ 125.1 mph||10.9 sec @ 123.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||97 ft||94 ft||100 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.06 g (avg)||1.02 g (avg)||1.04 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.6 sec @ 0.84 g (avg)||23.4 sec @ 0.89 g (avg)||23.0 sec @ 0.93 g (avg)|
|2.3-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||96.17 sec||96.45 sec||96.34 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1500 rpm||2150 rpm||1650 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$76,150||$117,590||$199,065|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r rear curtain||Dual front, front side, front curtain||Dual front, front side, front curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 mi||3 yrs/36,000 mi||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/100,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/100,000 mi||5 yrs/60,000 mi||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|FUEL CAPACITY||19.0 gal||19.5 gal||16.9 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||13/19/15 mpg (est)||16/23/19 mpg||17/24/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||259/177 kW-hrs/100 mi (est)||211/147 kW-hrs/100 mi||198/140 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.28 lb/mi (est)||1.05 lb/mi||0.99 lb/mi|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|
|**553 lb-ft w/temporary 20-sec overboost|