Chevrolet has set its expectations high.
As production of the new, mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 resumes at GM's Bowling Green, Kentucky assembly plant, the Corvette team is setting its sights on the next big milestone: the Corvette Z06. The more hardcore, track-oriented model in the lineup is expected to arrive for the 2022 model year, with a very special 5.5-liter flat-plane-crank DOHC V8 under the clamshell - a trickle-down from the new C8.R race car.
The new Z06 has been spotted undergoing testing recently, keeping some very interesting company. While the Z06 was heavily disguised, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Ferrari 458 Italia used for benchmarking purposes were very exposed, suggesting the American automaker is aiming high for both its flat-plane V8 and its handling and performance capabilities.
Flat-plane crankshafts became a major topic of discussion after Ford revealed the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang, which features a 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that spins up to an astonishing 8,250 rpm and pumps out 526 horsepower naturally aspirated.
The quick-and-dirty on flat-plane-crank V8s is this: a flat-plane crank design lends itself to a lighter rotating assembly than your typical cross-plane crankshaft, which means better revability, while the unique firing order results in more even intake and exhaust pulses for better breathing, especially at high rpm. Most often, the result is a higher redline and exceptional top-end power, at the cost of some low-end torque.
They also sound fantastic, so there's that.
Seen here in a Facebook video from one Randy Hermann, the camouflage-clad C8 Z06 was part of a convoy that included the Ferrari 458, the Porsche GT2 RS, two C8 Corvette Stingrays, and two additional camo-clad Z06 prototypes. That's one expensive, high-powered convoy, and if the performance of the Ferrari and the Porsche are any indication, it means that GM is chasing after some seriously quick, agile supercars with its new higher-performance 'Vette.
As a matter of fact, one report from earlier in the year alleged that the Z06 would pack an outstanding 600 or more horsepower - upwards of about 110 horsepower per liter - coupled with an engine redline between 8,500 and 9,000 rpm. If that's not enough to send shivers down your spine, you might want to check your pulse.