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Which is the better sports car the 2013 Chevy Camaro ZL 1 or the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Normally, Chevy is careful not to allow the Camaro to get too far off the chain so it can't threaten the Corvette. The chain just broke.

Both the Camaro ZL 1 and the new, 2014 Corvette Stingray, are cars that deliver on a promise. That promise is performance. Throughout the approximately four decades that the Camaro and Corvette have been made by Chevrolet concurrently, the company has been very careful to never let the Camaro’s performance and desirability exceed that of the Corvette, its halo car. However, due to some quirk of nature, Chevy finds itself in the odd position of currently offering the 2013 Camaro ZL 1 and the 2014 Corvette Stingray at the same moment in time. Which car is the better sports car?

Drivetrain Comparison 2014 Corvette Stingray and 2013 Camaro ZL 1
The 2013 Camaro ZL 1 has a 6.2 liter 580 horsepower, supercharged V8 engine. Torque is an amazing 560 lb-ft. The engine is coupled to either a 6 speed manual or automatic transmission. The 2014 Corvette Stingray will also displace 6.2 liters, however, it is not the same exact engine. In fact, Chevy claims that most of the parts are not interchangeable. Even without any forced induction (no turbo or supercharger) the engine is very powerful. It will produce about 450 horsepower. This is so much less horsepower, and the torque will also be much less, that the Camaro is the clear winner here. End of discussion. That the Corvette can come with a 7 speed transmission means nothing. That gear is strictly a second overdrive added mainly for a tiny bump in fuel economy and to keep up rivals on paper.

When the 2013 Corvette ZR1, the top Corvette, matched up against the 2013 Camaro ZL 1 the Corvette’s 638 hp made it clear who was king of the hill. Now that the new Corvette has arrived and there is no ZR1 yet, the Camaro takes the lead in power.

Cost Comparison Camaro vs Corvette
Both the Camaro ZL 1 and the Corvette will start in the mid $50K range. The ZL 1’s official base price is $54,350. Chevy hasn’t yet put up a “build your own” configurator for the Corvette Stingray, but we know from interviews that it will start in the mid-$50K range. Options are likely to match up pretty well, and a Camaro ZL 1 and Corvette Stingray (base) with navigation, similar seating materials and similar equipment options will likely cost the same within a couple thousand dollars, which at this price point is no difference at all. Tie.

Handling and Speed Comparison
The new Corvette Stingray will handle on a race track better than the Camaro ZL 1. We have driven the Camaro ZL 1 on and off track and it does use a variation of the 2013 Corvette’s magnetorheological dampers and they are simply amazing. However, the new 2014 base Corvette doesn’t get those. Instead one has to opt for the more pricey Z51 (not to be confused with ZR1) performance package to get those in the new Corvette Stingray and this is a comparison to the base ‘Vette. With a weight of 4120 pounds the Camaro is much heavier than the Corvette Stingray, which will weigh in at about 3250 pounds. In a straight line the ‘Vette will beat the Camaro, but only just barely. We are talking tenths of a second or less difference in the 0-60 mph sprint and quarter mile. Call it even. One would think the ‘Vette could out turn the Camaro, but with its suspension set-up this Camaro is very special. Call that a draw as well. Stopping will be better in the Corvette. Both are amazing, but the Corvette simply has so much less mass to stop it will win that parameter. This one is a toss-up.

Fun Factor Comparison
At a recent International Motor Press event we drove both the 2013 Corvette base and Grand Sport and also the Camaro ZL 1 and lower spec Camaro SS on the track and also on public roads. Without exaggerating we drove the Corvette out of the parking lot, up the road and then returned it to the stable. Why?! You might ask, because we have driven Corvettes on the road before and they are boring. The reason they are boring is that they are so amazingly competent that you cannot enjoy the car. You can exceed the highway speed limit in first gear. You sit low and lines of sight are not that great. It is like driving a race car on the street, which despite how it sounds is not at all fun.

By comparison the Camaro ZL 1 is a blast. It is like a cartoon car. Again, sight lines are not good due to the pill-box body structure. However, it is just a lively, spirited, fun car on the road. If you ever think you might buy a Camaro SS, do not drive the ZL 1. The SS was fine, and we liked driving it, until we drove the ZL 1. Once you feel that car, the SS feels ponderous and slow (how can a car with over 400 hp feel slow!). For fun to drive on public roads the Camaro is the clear winner. Now, we have not actually driven the new Corvette Stingray. So, if it is a suddenly different animal than the 2013 we will write a retraction.

Desirability Factor
Would you rather own the most common Corvette built or the best Camaro ever made at any time in history? Most would answer Camaro, but we realize that some might say ‘Vette. However, be honest. In 25 years when you are watching Barratt-Jackson auction off these two cars, is the Corvette going to fetch more than a pittance compared to this amazingly special Camaro. No it is not. Winner Camaro.

The Winner Is…
Overall this matchup is very close. If you are going to the racetrack with your base Corvette Stingray every weekend, good for you. You may be the first. In that case the Corvette Stingray would be a contender. However, if like 99.9% of Chevy owners you will never track your car, or do so only on rare occasions the winner is the 2013 Camaro ZL 1. It is just so much more unique and almost as capable performance wise. On the road is simply a more fun car to drive. Tell us which you would pick and why below.