by Roger Biermann
The Chevrolet Corvette has never been better. The front engine, rear wheel driven all-American sports car is one of the sweetest handling machines this side of supercar territory. But above the lowly Stingray and underpowered Grand Sport, the Z06 begs the question, what separates sports cars from supercars? Co-developed with the C7.R racecar, it shouldn't surprise us that this has genuine pedigree. Available in standard form or with a Z07 handling package, this is the one 'Vette to rule them all, particularly if your addiction is for chewing tires and spitting out rapid lap times around a race track.
Much like the standard Corvette, entry and egress to and from the Z06 is tricky thanks to wide door sills and a low stance. Once inside, the two-seater is decidedly 'snug' though not uncomfortably so. An open top experience in the convertible changes the atmosphere to one of an airy nature, but at the compromise of the edgy driving dynamics.
The driver-centric cockpit centers around standard GT seats, but Competition Sport seats are optionally available with extra side bolstering. Lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum trim adds refinement and an aggressive touch, as does a flat-bottomed steering wheel. An optional heads-up display enhances the driver's experience. Chevrolet's MyLink touch screen infotainment system is standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and a premium Bose audio system. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot turns the Z06 into a complete mobile connectivity hub.
The Corvette Z06 offers available Magnetic Selective Ride Control with magnetorheological dampers. The system allows the hardcore Z06 to be passably comfortable on road, though cross-country trips wouldn't be advisable. The suspension in the Z06 definitely errs on the firm side, but also offers exceptional support against body roll through corners. The steering is accurate and quick, darting whichever way you point it without pause for thought.
Grip is possibly the Z06's greatest strength. It clings to the road like it's stuck with industrial grade Velcro – and that's on just the standard tires. With the wider, grippier Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires from Michelin in the Z07 pack, the only way you'll come unstuck is if you've got a death wish. Standard steel rotor brakes do an exceptional job, but for hardened track usage, larger carbon ceramic discs from Brembo are available – also in the Z07package.
Mash the throttle from standstill and 60mph will flash by in a blistering 2.95 seconds – leaving you screaming expletives all the way to a top speed north of 180mph. The 650 horsepower and equal amount of torque in lb-ft available from the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 are simply monumental figures that feel even bigger when you're behind the wheel. It's all sent to the rear wheels via the option of a 7-speed manual gearbox or an 8-speed automatic. An electronic limited slip differential is standard at the rear to help keep things as tidy as possible.
Three trim levels exist for the Corvette Z06; 1LZ, 2LZ, and 3LZ. The 1LZ package features a 9-speaker Bose sound system, 8-way power seats, and rear-view camera. The 2LZ adds an extra speaker, front curb-view cameras, and heated and ventilated seats. The 3LZ adds a leather wrapped interior, Nappa leather, navigation, and the performance data logger. The Z07 performance package adds sticky summer performance tires, carbon ceramic brakes, extra aerodynamic bits, and a revised suspension. The Corvette has not been crash tested, but does feature ABS brakes and stability control.
The Corvette Z06 tears up the rulebook that defines what a sports car should be capable of, offering performance and handling comparable to high end European supercars, but with a relatively demure price tag. If track days are your guilty pleasure, do not forget to option the Z07 Performance Package!