Many of those who doubt the capabilities of the Camaro Z/28 claim the car is not well engineered, but rather owes its performance gains to its sticky Pirelli Trofeo R tires. There is no doubt those near-slicks contribute to the car’s performance, but is that really what makes the Z/28 so fast? Motor Trend was curious too and rather than arguing on the internet about it, they put the theory to the test.
It just so happened that MT had both a 2014 Camaro 1LE and a Camaro Z/28 on hand for two separate tests. Figuring out how much of a difference the Pirelli Trofeo R tires make on the 5th generation Camaro was simple: swap the wheels and tires from the 1LE to the Z/28 and vice versa. Then run the cars down the drag strip, on the skid pad and on the figure eight and record the results.
The first test they did after swapping the tires was a quarter-mile pass. The 1LE hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.5 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 13.0 seconds at 109.1 mph on its stock Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. While wearing the Z/28’s Trofeo Rs, it did it in 12.7 seconds at 111.7 mph while improving on its 0-60 mph with a time of 4.3 seconds. The Z/28 meanwhile hit 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds on its Pirelli’s and did the quarter mile in in 12.3 seconds at 117.2 mph. On the 1LE’s Goodyears, it did the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds at 117.1 mph and hit 60 in 3.9 seconds.
The next test was braking. The 1LE can brake from 60 mph to 0 in 101 feet on its stock tires and from 60 mph to 0 in an impressive 94 feet on the Trofeo R tire. The Z/28 can brake from 60 mph to 0 in 97 feet on the Pirellis and from 60 mph to 0 in 100 feet on the Goodyears. Basically, the Trofeo R is sticker and thus, resulted in better braking performance.
The skidpad is where the difference in tires will really show. The 1LE pulled 1.02 gs on the skidpad on its Goodyears and 1.05 on the Pirellis. That might not seem like much, but MT notes a 0.03g improvement is significant. The Z/28 pulled 1.06 gs on the skidpad on its Pirellis and 1.04 g on the Goodyears. This is an interesting result, as the Z/28 still pulled more Gs than the 1LE while wearing the 1LE’s tires.
Finally, MT rounded off the day with a figure eight test. On its Goodyears, the 1LE did the figure eight in 24.1 seconds at an average of 0.85 g. On the Pirellis, it did it in 24.1 seconds at 0.83 g average. The Z/28 did it in 23.6 seconds at a 0.84 g average on its tires and 24.1 seconds at an average of 0.84 g. MT said the 1LE felt razor sharp on its Goodyears but “mushy” on the Pirellis. Meanwhile, the Z/28 on the Goodyears became “unpredictable” and “prone to oversteer.”
In conclusion, MT says the Z/28’s advantage is not due to a better set of tires, which shouldn’t be news to anyone. Putting the Z/28’s tires on the 1LE didn’t make it handle or perform as well as the Z/28 and in some cases, it failed to even outperform the Z/28 on the 1LE’s Goodyears. Tires must work in conjunction with the brakes, suspension, chassis and steering components to really shine. A great aspect of the Z/28 is its tires, but it’s not the only aspect.
Read Motor Trend’s full test of the two sets of tires here.