by Roger Biermann
The Corvette has symbolized the pinnacle of Chevrolet performance for over 50 years and has gone from strength to strength - to where it is now: it exemplifies the era of massive power, capability, and opulence that we find ourselves in, but offers its talents at a reasonable price. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Z06 produces a staggering 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to sling the Z06 from zero to sixty in only 3.2 seconds. Power, however, is only one piece of the puzzle; the Z06 features beefed-up suspension, wider tires, advanced aerodynamics and a distinct interior that make it stand out from the rest of the range. Starting at only $80,900, the Z06 offers supercar levels of performance at premium sedan prices and proves that Chevrolet is leading the American front of performance vehicles in 2019.
The Corvette range received a significant update in 2018, so there have been no significant additions for 2019. The Carbon 65 Edition which celebrated 65 years of Corvette, has been dropped from the options list for obvious reasons, and Chevrolet has thought it good to add two new colors to the Corvette Palette: Elkhart Lake Blue and Shadow Gray.
The Z06 looks like it wants to start an underground fight club. The C7 Corvette is an aggressively styled sports car in any trim, but the Z06 takes it to the next level with ultra-wide fender flares and GT racer-styled front splitter and air vents covered in carbon fiber. Other standard features include a set of impressive 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Pearl aluminum wheels as standard, wrapped in sticky 285/30ZR19 tires in the front and 335/25ZR20 monsters in the rear. A healthy dose of carbon fiber bits are scattered around the exterior, and there are seven different colors to choose from and two different styles. Tinted privacy glass and a body-colored carbon-fiber roof panel are small touches that go a long way and make the Z06 feel like a premium offering. There's a mountain of optional exterior extras for the Z06, such as full-length racing stripes, transparent roof panels, and more aggressive aerodynamic spoilers and splitters, but the absence of LED lighting is one omission that is difficult to forgive in this price range.
The Z06 shares the same 106.7-inch wheelbase as the rest of the Corvette range, but that's where the similarities end. The Z06 is slightly lower than the Stingray at 48.6 inches, but the ZR1 is lower still at 48.5 inches, while the Z06 measures 177.9 inches in length - an inch longer than the Stingray. The Z06 flexes its broad shoulders with a maximum width of 77.4 inches, a whole 3.5 inches wider than the Stingray. It can be surmised that the Z06 is one of the longest, widest, and lowest 'Vettes in the range, and for a good reason; race-inspired suspension, widened wheel arches that accommodate more substantial wheels, and aerodynamic features such as a front splitter all contribute to its imposing stance. At a curb weight of 3,514 lbs, it's a relative lightweight too, aiding handling rather than fighting the suspension upgrades.
The C7 Corvette Z06 has one of the most distinctive and recognizable body styles on American roads, and Chevrolet knows precisely how to accentuate the striking features of the C7. For 2019 Chevy has added two new colors to their palette in Elkhart Lake Blue and Shadow Gray, so new owners get ten exterior paint options. No-cost options include the timeless classic Black, Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic, Torch Red, Blade Silver Metallic, and Arctic White. For those who seek a unique look, Chevrolet offers Long Beach Red Metallic Tintcoat, Sebring Orange and Corvette Racing Yellow. It's almost impossible to hide the Z06's race-car inspired bodywork, so the best option would be to go with the all-American Corvette Racing Yellow and let those bald eagles fly free.
You don't buy a Z06 for its excellent safety record or praiseworthy gas mileage figures. The Z06 was built to go fast, and boy does it deliver. Power delivery from the supercharged V8 has been described as gut-wrenching, mildly terrifying, and biblical, which sounds about right when you look at the numbers: the 2019 Z06 will accelerate from zero to sixty in a ridiculous 2.95 seconds when fitted with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission, and will cross the quarter-mile in a time of 10.95 seconds. A ten-second car, fresh out the box. The fact that the Z06 is only the second fastest car in the Corvette lineup, and comes in well under the 100k mark, proves that we are living in the golden age of the internal combustion engine.
The main attraction has to be the supercharged 6.2-liter, direct-injection V8 with variable valve timing and a dry-sump oil and performance exhaust system. This engine wouldn't feel out of place in a Nascar racer. In lesser, naturally-aspirated models, the 6.2-liter V8 produces 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, which swells to 650 hp and 650 lb-ft in the Z06 thanks to a generously sized supercharger. Peak torque is reached at a relatively low 3,600 rpm, and the Z06 will pull all the way to its 6,600 rpm redline with reckless abandon. The standard seven-speed manual transmission features rev-matching technology which goes a long way on the track, but the optional eight-speed automatic is better at getting the power down and maintaining speed but will short-shift and hang on to gears on downshifts.
Make no mistake; the Z06 Corvette is not a comfortable GT cruiser. It has been set up for driver enjoyment, which means you get stiff suspension and grabby brakes, but that won't be an issue for the enthusiasts who will buy this car. On a fast backroad, it becomes evident what Chevrolet wanted to accomplish with this car; the steering is well-weighted, and the 285/30ZR19 rubber in front communicates well, despite the tires' gargantuan size. Low-speed driving, especially in urban settings, will be taxing as the Z06 suffers from a wide turning radius, and the taut suspension setup can ruffle a few feathers. Attention to the suspension and tire combination has produced a car that feels engaging and confident on the road and track, and although it might be slightly compromised as a daily driver, those who buy a Z06 will revel in the fact that with a few modifications it could be a full-blown racecar.
The Corvette Z06 laughs in the face of Greenpeace protestors and Prius owners, and will happily guzzle down a full tank of fuel on an extended shopping run. Not that it matters really; those who own or have experienced a Z06 understand that the pure joy that you get out of driving this car is worth more than the excessive fuel bills it requires to keep it going. Chevrolet gives an EPA estimated gas mileage figure of 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined in manual guise and 14/23/17 mpg in automatic form, which seems like wishful thinking. The Z06 is fitted with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank which gives it an estimated range of 315 miles. It's also subject to a gas-guzzlers tax when equipped with automatic transmission, which is quite tell-tale of its drinking habits.
The interior of the Z06 has a distinctly sporty feel and features an old school fighter-jet styled cockpit where all the controls are prominently slanted towards the driver. The Z06 is matched with an exclusive range of upholstery materials and inserts that distinguishes it from the Stingray and Grand Sport in terms of quality. Standard interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, GT style bucket seats, and a head-up display with a G-meter and rev counter indicator. Keyless entry, an anti-theft car alarm system, and a rearview camera add a sliver of practicality to this rabid 'Vette. Front visibility is sufficient, but the widened fender flares and small rear window make it difficult to navigate in reverse or spot cars when changing lanes. While all the essential features expected on a modern sports car is present, the Z06's competition offers way more tech as standard, and the average build quality keeps this Corvette from being a class-leader.
The C7 Corvette had been praised for its generous interior space since its launch back in 2014, and not much has changed since then. The Z06 offers 43 inches of legroom, which is ample for this class of car, but it's not class-leading. Headroom measures 37.9 inches, which might get tight for taller drivers - but there's a lot of adjustability on offer to get even the largest of hotdog-eating champions into the driver's seat. To get a good idea of how spacious the interior of the Z06 is, a shoulder room measurement of 55.2 inches should suffice. The seats are classic bucket style units that strike a nice balance between support and comfort and should make excellent companions on long grand touring road trips. Thanks to eight-way power driver's seat adjustability, and a telescoping steering wheel, the pilot won't have an issue finding a preferred driving position, which in the case of the Z06 is rather low, but still provides good visibility.
The quality of materials used in the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette is not on par with the competition from Japan and Europe - but, bear in mind that most of the cars that compete in this class cost nearly double what the Z06 costs. A wide variety of seating upholstery options are available, depending on the trim level. The base model 1LZ is offered with Gray, Jet Black or Adrenaline Red perforated Mulan leather, while the 2LZ and 3LZ get two-tone combinations with suede microfiber inserts. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard across trim levels, but a carbon-fiber and microfiber job is optional on the 3LZ.
650 hp supercars have never been expected to haul a week's worth of groceries or an adult-sized BMX around town; in fact, most supercar owners would be over the moon if they could fit a single golf bag in the front or back of their European exotics. The Z06 proves that theory wrong, by providing more than double the trunk and cargo space of most high-performance two-door sports cars. The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 offers up 15 cubic feet of trunk space, which is about the same as what you'd find in a Honda Accord, and over five cubic feet more than what the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R brings to the table. Accessing all that space is a simple job thanks to a hatchback-style liftgate. The Z06 will comfortably fit two pit bikes and a case of Mountain Dew.
Personal storage space, on the other hand, is somewhat lacking. Occupants get a basic glovebox and two cup holders. The cupholders in the Z06 are deep enough to avert any coffee spillage when attempting a 10-second quarter-mile run.
From the outside, it's clear that there's something special about the Z06; the interior is not quite as breathtaking. Designed with performance driving in mind, it still caters to those who'll be driving their Z06 Corvette's on a daily basis. Interior highlights include a dual-zone climate control system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with optional carbon fiber inserts, cruise control and a curb-view camera on the 2LZ and 3LZ. The eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat is heated and ventilated and front seats can be upgraded to a set of hardcore race-ready buckets. Continuing with the race-car inspired theme, the Z06 is fitted with a head-up display, which includes a track mode that displays G-force levels, rpm, and temperature information. An auto-dimming rear-view mirror and seat memory are available for the 2LZ and 3LZ, while the 3LZ gets exclusive rights to the performance data and video recorder, reserved for hardcore track day enthusiasts.
The MyLink infotainment system found in the Z06 has already been replaced with Chevrolet's new Infotainment 3 system on other Chevrolet vehicles - and it shows. The MyLink system's interface looks dated and can be slow to react to inputs, but it works well in general. The eight-inch display screen offers crisp and clear imagery. The menus are logical and are easy to navigate, and connecting a smart device is taken care of in seconds thanks to Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto connectivity. Voice controls work well half of the time. When it fails to recognize a command, clear prompts are given. Sound is channeled through a nine-speaker Bose premium sound system that envelops the Corvette's cabin in symphonic majesty. The advanced system in the 3LZ adds one extra speaker and an enclosed subwoofer in the trunk area - perfect for bumping Van Halen while lapping Miatas around Laguna Seca. Built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity is a major plus and adds to the practical appeal of the Z06.
The C7 Corvette has been in production since 2014 and has seen a number of recalls for an array of defects and parts failures, but Chevrolet has gone through the seventh generation platform with a fine-tooth comb, and most of the critical issues have been sorted out. In the last three years, the C7 Corvette has been recalled three times. In 2017 two recalls where issued for defective airbags and an issue with the power steering system. In 2019 specific models were recalled due to the airbag system failing under hard acceleration or hard braking. As a testament to its overall reliability, the C7 Corvette managed a score of 85 on the J.D. Power rating scale. Chevrolet backs the 2019 Z06 with a three-year/36,000 mile warranty which includes corrosion, drivetrain and roadside assistance for five-years. New owners also receive a one-year/two-visit maintenance warranty, and six years of rust-through cover.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has put the C7 Corvette Z06 through its paces. These institutions tend to shy away from destroying more expensive machines, and who would want to see a brand new Z06 getting destroyed in any case? Although the Z06 has gone untested, Chevrolet has made sure to include basic safety equipment and a solid aluminum bonded frame.
The supercar-destroying Z06 inexplicably misses out on most of the active safety features that have become standard issue on most cars in its class. What Chevrolet does offer is a rather basic list of safety tech: traction control, front and side-impact airbags, keyless start and a rear vision camera. Other standard-issue safety equipment consists of a tire pressure monitoring system, run-flat tires, cruise control, and an anti-theft alarm system. A front curb camera with parking sensors is available on 2LZ and 3LZ models. Modern safety tech such as blind-spot monitoring and active lane keep assist would go a long way to making the Z06 even more practical for civilian road use, though.
The 2019 Corvette Z06 lives in a world filled with austerity measures, trade wars, and fluctuating oil prices. It's the antithesis of sensibility, responsibility, and conservative views, and that's precisely why it's so loved by so many. Nowhere can a car be found that symbolizes the grit and spirit of the American people: it shies away from modern-day complexities, instead offering an honest and raw driving experience that's hard to match in the motoring world. Offering supercar performance for premium SUV money isn't it's only party trick; it has the same levels of cargo space as a midsize family sedan, and won't destroy spines on ordinary roads. Part track car, part GT cruiser, the Z06 can do a lot of things for not a lot of money and will stick with the best that Europe and Japan have to offer any day of the week. It's an American icon for a reason - long live the Z06.
The 2019 Z06 is available at six different price points; with a price difference of almost $9,000 between the base model and top of the line 3LZ, there's not much separating trim levels, especially in the midrange. The base model 1LZ costs $80,900 in manual guise while the auto goes for $82,200. Stepping up to the 2LZ, a manual version carries an MSRP of $84,465, and the auto costs $85,765. The top of the range 3LZ with a seven-speed manual is priced at $89,845, and the auto 3LZ asks $91,145. These prices exclude a destination fee of $1,095, as well as tax, title, and licensing.
Chevrolet offers the 2019 Corvette Z06 in three trim levels starting with the 1LZ, followed by the 2LZ and 3LZ. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and seven-speed manual transmission come as standard across the range, with an optional eight-speed shiftable automatic available for all trims.
The 1LZ sports a performance exhaust and carbon-fiber exterior panels. A set of Brembo brakes hide behind 19-inch alloy wheels, which is all kept together by Chevrolet's excellent Magnetic Selective Ride Control. The 1LZ gets full leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, Bose premium audio, an eight-inch infotainment display with Chevrolet's MyLink technology, cruise control, and two-zone climate control amongst others.
For the 2LZ model, body-colored heated side mirrors - which also have auto-dimming function - are added. More interior material and color options are available on this model, and heated and ventilated seats are fitted. It also has an advanced Bose sound system and a curb-view camera.
Notable additions to the 3LZ's features list is a performance data and video recorder, navigation, a custom leather-wrapped shift knob, and a suede microfiber interior package. It boasts higher-quality interior materials, giving it a greater sense of luxury.
Chevrolet has kept the options list for the 2019 Corvette Z06 short; there are only two optional packages on offer, with the Z07 Performance package being the most notable. For $7,995 the Z06 gets Z07 Magnetic Selective Ride Control, carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup tires and a few exterior mods, like a larger front splitter and end caps.
The Z06 Appearance package costs $730 dollars and consists of an all-weather cover, a Z06 branded cargo cover, and a set of premium carpeted floor mats. You could instead opt for the Z06 Aero Package or Carbon Fiber Aero Package, both of which add aero bits in a variety of finishes to make sure the Z06 looks as mean as it is on track.
While the optional package options might seem limited, the Corvette Z06 can be completely personalized through individual options, accent stripes, and decals.
There's not much separating the three trim levels from each other - not in the performance department at least. The improvements offered by the higher trim levels consist mainly of appearance and comfort updates. The 2LZ has to be the best value for money offering in the lineup: it shares most of its features with the more expensive 3LZ, and the features it misses out on are mainly superficial, barring the performance data and video recorder, which is an optional extra on the 2LZ anyway. The 2LZ starts at $84,465 for the seven-speed manual and $85,765 for the Auto. The Z06 offers more space and power than the Nissan GT-R, the latter of which has a starting price at just under $100,000, making the 2LZ the best value for money in the range.
Chevrolet went all out when they designed the ZR1, one of the fastest accelerating rear-wheel-drive cars in the world. To say that the Z06 and ZR1 are in different classes all together would be an understatement. Firstly there's the difference in power; the ZR1 produces a tsunami-starting 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque. That's 105 hp and 65 lb-ft of torque more than the Z06. Both cars share the same wheel size and wheelbase, and the weight difference between the two is negligible. The ZR1 will suck down 13/19/15 mpg, making it two miles per gallon thirstier than the Z06. Standard carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fiber exterior trimmings ad to the race car feel of the ZR1. All these added performance features come at a price; the ZR1 starts at an MSRP of $125,090, over $40,000 more than the Z06. The ZR1 offers the ultimate Corvette experience, but at that asking price, the Z06 starts to look like an appealing option.
Japan's Godzilla has received a number of updates over the past 11 years, and is now more capable than ever, offering arcade-like handling and blistering performance from its twin-turbo V6 engine producing 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque. The GT-R might be down on power, but still manages to accelerate to sixty in under three seconds, and clings to the road thanks to an advanced all-wheel-drive system. The GT-R is lighter on gas, returning 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined, but has a much more substantial base price, setting you back at least $100,000 for the entry-level model. The GT-R is a larger car sporting four seats, which explains the 3,993-pound curb weight, a weight difference of 469 pounds. The Nissan can't match the Z06's cargo capacity, but offers more standard safety tech, and should prove to be a more comfortable car to live with on a day to day basis.