Z/28 Versus M6 Versus GT-R – The Monster Battle (Part 4)

8/8/2014 4:05:05 AM

It’s a bit lumpen. Not only is it ill at ease on track (that was expected), but you never feel the car is excited about the prospect of going for a drive. It’s too busy trying to be professional and businesslike to have fun. So the steering is ordinary – it feels heavy, almost ponderous, through slow corners and doesn’t have the zest you expect from an M car. It does have one forte, but it’s of no relevance to any owner. It does the most tremendous powerslides. Endless, cloud-creating, joyful skids that make The Stig, well, almost shrug.

Chevrolet's Z/28 Camaro is powered by a 7.0-litre V8 engine with 505bhp

Chevrolet's Z/28 Camaro is powered by a 7.0-litre V8 engine with 505bhp

You think you know where the Z/28 fits, don’t you? Somewhere in the middle. Wrong. It’s out beyond the Nissan. It’s not faster, of course, but it is loopier. Less willing (and able) to compromise, too. Chevy makes some bold claims for its speed around a track, but Americans love a stat – the press pack is full of them: 1.5g deceleration, 1.08g in corners, more than five seconds faster around some track in America than a Ford Mustang Boss 302. Ignore it all. That all comes as a legacy of those tyres and, to a lesser extent, the brakes. What we care about is how it feels. And the answer to that is very grippy. And then rather snatchy. It has very quick steering and the Trofeo Rs, pressed into the tarmac by the colossal V8, are never going to lose grip before the lighter rear, are they?

Motor, controller and power transmission wires occupy the M6’s engine bay

Motor, controller and power transmission wires occupy the M6’s engine bay

The cornering forces are enormous, and when you get to the limit, the tyres break away abruptly. Suddenly you’re fighting it as the chassis bucks, the tyres twitch and the engine pounds and trumpets. This is NASCAR, and I love it. It’s not a clever car – I don’t even think it’s a particularly well-developed one. The traction control has five stages. Even in the grabbiest mode, it appears to have to check with America whether it’s allowed to deploy itself (the use of traction control clearly being an unAmerican activity). The delay can be scary.

The tyres dominate the experience, giving the handling an unsettling edge. And although the chassis is commendably stiff – the brakes are perhaps the best here in terms of power and feel, and the super-tight limited-slip diff delivers exceptional traction – you’re in no doubt that this thing bites. It’s a monster.

The Nissan GT-R gets its power from the 3.8-litre V6 engine

The Nissan GT-R gets its power from the 3.8-litre V6 engine

It’s not about speed, surely even Chevy appreciates that. The Porsche GT3 is 12 seconds faster around the Nürburgring, on less aggressive tyres, and the Nissan is undoubtedly the better car. But you’d grow out of the Nissan, in the same way that you’d grow into the BMW. No matter your age, there will always be something captivating about the Z/28.

Partly this has to do with its party tricks – an ability to pull away from a standstill in fourth gear is a good one, and you’ve got to admire a company that’s been so single-minded about turning such a huge car into a track special. The results are both terrible and wonderful. You view the world through a windscreen a foot high and six wide, sat in a dark cabin on a snug seat, gripping an Alcantara wheel and listening to the roaring V8. And it feels good.


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