R&T Pitted a Camaro ZL1 against a 2013 Nissan GT-R R35
Road and Track ignores price differences, drivetrains, and target markets and gives us one of the strangest head to head match-ups imaginable: 2013 Camaro ZL1 versus 2013 Nissan GT-R
All right, so, I love the Camaro. I unabashedly and unashamedly love the Camaro. You may say that I’m incredibly biased and incredibly unfair against other cars, in fact, my love for the Camaro is so intense. However, all of that considered, I would never expect the Camaro to compete with the Nissan GT-R R35. This isn’t meant to be a knock to the Camaro, either, but simply a nod to the power that is the $100k, 545HP, AWD Supercar that is the Nissan GT-R–a car that’s famous for competing with quarter-million dollar rides on a daily basis.
So, when I saw that Road and Track had pitted these two vehicles against one another I groaned. I expected this to end up being another case of a media outlet displaying a bias towards European and Japanese cars setting up an unfair comparison as reason to lambaste the American automotive entry. The ZL1 is impressive. The ZL1 is powerful. It’s beautiful, inspiring, fun, sexy, cool, and above all else affordable by comparison to other vehicles that provide equivalent amount of vehicle, and I was afraid that by comparing it to a Nissan GT-R R35–the 2013 GT-R R35 of sub 3-second 0-60 times and Nurburgring near-record laps–the comparison would undermine the ZL1, but then something surprising happened: The ZL1 held its own, and then some.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. The GT-R R35 is the superior track car to the ZL1. It puts out 545HP to a brilliant continuous AWD transmission and strikes fear in to the hearts of turbo Porsches and Ferraris all across the globe, but it’s not so superior that this comparison didn’t end up being warranted.
On the track the GT-R bested the ZL1 by a little over 2 seconds. Now, 2 seconds is a lot on a track time, but not so much so when you consider that the price tag of the GT-R is, at minimum, $96,820 compared to the ZL1′s base price of $54,995. If your primary concern is track time, I’d be willing to wager that the extra $41+k saved by purchasing the ZL1 could be used to make it lap any track quicker than the GT-R, and still have enough left over to buy the losing GT-R driver a beer to help drown his sorrows.
Now, the GT-R is an easier drive, but, the Camaro ZL1 is, by all definitions, a more enjoyable drive. A skilled racer behind the wheel of the ZL1 will get a great deal of enjoyment and much more involvement and personal reward from their experience, and may even be able to cut track time discrepancies down at stock on a warmer day.
Of course, performance isn’t all there is to a car. Road and Track actually stated they preferred the interior of the Camaro ZL1, as well as the standard cruising driving experience.
Ultimately, the comparison ends up being a great deal of fun, and it’s awesome to see the ZL1 hold its own against a supercar nearly twice its price. The ZL1 really surprised even my biased expectations coming in to this comparison. Also of note, when watching the video, is to listen to the differences in exhaust tones. Wow, the Camaro ZL1 sounds MUCH MUCH better than the whiny tones of the GT-R.
So, what do you think? Me, I’d save my $41k and take the ZL1 over the GT-R any day of the week.