What Engine Could Power a Next Gen Camaro Z/28?
The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is the most road course capable muscle car of all time and it has achieved that title without any real competition. With the introduction of the new Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, the Camaro Z/28 could have its first real challenge, but that challenge comes just as the current generation Camaro is ready to ride off into the sunset when the next gen models arrive for 2016. Should the new Shelby GT350 Mustang prove to be more capable on a road course, we can expect to see General Motors roll out a new Camaro Z/28 in the 6th generation – but I am left wondering what GM will do for a next gen Z/28 engine when the rest of the Camaro lineup transitions from the LS engine series to the new LT engine series.
The Heart of the Camaro Z/28
The current Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is a real work of automotive art. Every aspect of this car was scrutinized during the development stages to ensure that the new Z/28 was indeed the most road course capable muscle car of all time. This includes a spool damper system that is unheard of among street cars, an aero package that is more functionally correct that any Camaro ever, a braking system that that is more commonly found in the world of high priced supercars, a hefty dose of weight reduction and the mighty LS7 V8 engine.
The LS7 is a 7.0L V8 designed originally for the C6 Corvette Z06, which was also built to be a road racing beast, so the engine was ideal for the Camaro Z/28. This is an engine made to endure the rigors of hours of hard cornering so in fitting it to the Z/28, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The problem with the LS7 is that if the 2016 Camaro SS shifts to the new LT1 engine that debuted in the C7 Corvette Stingray, the Z/28 would be the only vehicle in the GM lineup still using an LS-based engine. Even though the LS7 is incredible, it seems highly unlikely that the automaker would continue to use older engine technology as their bestselling performance cars move totally to the LT engines.
In other words, I cannot imagine that the next generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would roll out with the same LS7 engine that was introduced for the Corvette some 9 years ago. This means that GM will need to figure out a new engine for the 6th gen Camaro Z/28…but what would it be?
The Next Gen Camaro Z/28
Now, I should probably lead into this section by saying that “if GM builds a next generation Camaro Z/28”, but I don’t believe that it is “if” so much as “when”. Had the 5th gen Camaro Z/28 come and gone without any competition, I could maybe see GM shelving the product for a while, but the introduction of the new Shelby GT350 gives the GM engineers something to beat. To do so, we can expect that the next generation Camaro Z/28 would be a bit lighter than the current version, while the same high tech suspension, braking and aerodynamic bits would help the new Z handle pretty much any road course in the world. However, what about the engine?
Quite a few months back, we brought you the news that General Motors had trademarked the engine names LT4, LT5 and LTX. We know now that the LT4 is the new supercharged Corvette Z06 engine, but it seems unlikely that GM would use that engine in the next Z/28 because there could be a touch too much weight over the front end…which is why the current Z/28 features the naturally aspired LS7 rather than the supercharged LS9. Based on the past, the LTX will most likely be a crate engine offering, following in the footsteps of the popular LSX. However, that LT5 really gets me wondering.
The last time that the LT5 name was used came during the 4th generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, when the ZR1 was powered by a dual overhead cam LT5 engine. While I greatly doubt that we will see another DOHC GM V8 for the Camaro Z/28, this LT5 name could be the next generation engine designed for a super-handling Camaro. This LT5 would likely offer a touch more power than the current LS7, but it would hit those numbers while weighing less than the 7.0L mill in the current Z/28. I would expect the same dry sump technology that would cater to a road racing monster along with a broad torque curve that would allow the new Z/28 to get out of the corners with less need for downshifting.
Unfortunately, General Motors will almost certainly focus on the launch of the 6th gen Camaro in the bestselling LS, LT and SS trimlines so it could be a while before we see the next gen Camaro Z/28, but when it arrives – I fully expect that the engine under the hood will garner just as much attention as the new flat plane V8 in the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang.