Every year Motor Trend grabs a grouping of the world’s best sports and performance cars that are either all-new or heavily updated for that model year and thrashes them around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in an effort to determine the “Best Driver’s Car”. The Best Driver’s Car test doesn’t base the rankings on performance alone, they take into account multiple factors to decide which car would be the most fun and most engaging to drive on both a country back road and a racetrack.
This year, Chevrolet’s only worthy entry into Best Driver’s Car was the 2014 Camaro Z/28, but the track day special is a perfect fit for Best Driver’s Car. It does away with the standard Camaro’s six=speaker audio system, is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission mated to a 7.0-liter V8 and uses relatively impractical Pirelli Trofeo R tires – all in the name of driving pleasure. There are few cars on sale today with such a cutthroat approach to raw performance driving, which is part of the reason why the Z/28 finished first in the test.
MT’s judges immediately noticed how “incredibly high” the Z/28’s limits are and how much fun they could have behind the wheel without coming anywhere close to reaching them. They also said the steering was “light and razor-sharp,” but still provided consistent feedback to the driver. The naturally-aspirated 7.0-liter LS7 engine “races to redline faster than any pushrod engine has a right to,” and the huge carbon ceramic brakes “always returned a linear pedal travel and usable feel.” They also appreciated the well-bolstered Recaro seats and the “the light, crisp shifter that easily outclassed any other manual present.”
MT’s resident racing driver Randy Pobst also enjoyed the Z/28 thoroughly. After setting a hot lap in the car around Laguna Seca, he said there’s ” kind of not a bad corner for this car,” and that he’s “never felt a car grip up so much halfway through Turn 9,” at Laguna Seca. That’s high praise from a former North American Touring Car champion that has driven nearly every new car under the sun.
The usual Camaro complaints are still around with the Z/28. It’s hard to see out of and some of the MT editors found the wide car hard to keep between the lines on smaller roads. But they also said “how hard you smile is directly correlated to how hard you’re driving,” the Z/28, which is why it took home the 2014 Best Driver’s Car prize over entries like the Alfa Romeo 4C and Nissan GT-R Nismo.
The entire Best Driver’s Car test can be read on Motor Trend’s website.