It'll only be a few months before it takes off in a cloud of smoke.
The Chevy Corvette world is divided into several parts. There's the best-bang-for-your-buck-in-the-world base model, which now has 495 hp. There's the Grand Sport, usually a base model with some suspension parts. And then there's the mega Corvette ZR1, a car so fast and grippy that the last one made us sick from the driver's seat (one of two to ever do it).
But there's one more model, one that gets upgraded everything, but is built for the racetrack. And that sometimes means a less powerful engine than the nuclear-driven ZR1, but with no less attack. It's the Z06, which began as an option package during the second generation of Corvette, but has followed the brand along through the C5, C6 and C7 generations. It now debuts on the midengine C8 generation, and it will be the best Corvette Z06 ever created.
"You want it to go faster, stop faster, turn faster. Basically, it's the most track-oriented Corvette that we do," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. "Through the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth generation car we've now moved the street car and the race car closer and closer together."
We'll start with the engine, where all good car stories start. The new Z06, on sale next summer, comes attached to a 5.5-liter naturally-aspirated flat-plane crank V8, the most powerful ever created. And after a bunch of teaser shots and audio clips of the engine, we now know the new LT6 will make 670 hp at 8,400 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 6,300 rpm. As expected, it will be attached to the same eight-speed dual-clutch transmission as the base model, though with a shorter final drive ratio, and then to the rear wheels only.
"An engine of this nature is truly playing in the exotic place, we had our hands really untied, to buy the best aluminum-forged pistons, titanium connecting rods, to go to the true mechanical valvetrain," said Dustin Gardner, assistant chief engineer.
"It is a low-volume, hand-built, precision engine. The big advantages of moving to a flat-plane crank is, the mass in the engine that's moving the fastest, is much lighter. And in doing that allows the engine to accelerate and build speed more rapidly than any small block before it. And also achieve more than 650 hp," said Gardner.
With wider, stickier tires, carbon fiber wheels (that save 41 pounds of unsprung mass) and the Z07 package, the new Z06 can hit 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds. Chevy didn't reveal the top speed yet, but with the new high-mounted wing and new dive planes in front, the Corvette feels 734 pounds of downforce at 186 mph.
The Z06 gets GM's fourth-generation magnetic ride suspension, with more breadth and depth (and faster reaction times) than any of the systems before. Those are connected to 20-inch, 275-mm width tires in front and 21-inch, 345-mm width tires in the back. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ZP tires are standard, with Sport Cup 2 R ZP tires included with the available Z07 package.
It comes with bigger brakes than the standard Stingray as well. They come from Brembo and measure 14.6 inches in front and 15 inches in the rear. They get six-piston calipers all around, as opposed to the Stingray's four-piston brakes. With the Z07 package buyers get larger carbon-ceramic brakes, we're guessing with enough stopping power for a midsize aircraft.
Chevy fiddled with every little bit of the Stingray to come out with the Z06 on the other side. For instance, it wasn't loud enough in the cabin, Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer said during the press conference. So Chevy installed "reverse megaphones" on the quad exhaust to pulse some of the sound back to the driver. And that's real sound, Chevy noted.
It has unique front and rear fasicas, a first for Z06. The front helps feed air to a center heat exchanger, one of five on the vehicle. It also has a standard, adjustable wickerbill spoiler, though a higher wing is also available. When equipped for max attack, the Z06 will pull 1.22 gs on the racetrack.
Other racing features include launch control, which is where you would get that insane sprint time. Like the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing we just drove, the Z06 gets the company's Performance Traction Management system that can vary the amount of slip allowed before the safety nannies step in. Finally, there's the electronic limited-slip differential that "engages to balance between steering response and stability in different driving conditions."
Inside the engine, the Z06 has a new aluminum cylinder block casting, a new dual-overhead-camshaft design, dual-coil valve springs, forged aluminum pistons and forged titanium connecting rods, a new split intake manifold and a six-stage dry-sump oiling system. That's why this engine, in race form, has won a bunch of races, a bunch of poles, and both the Manufacturer's and Driver's Championship in IMSA racing.
The new Z06 will be offered in 12 colors, and with seven available wheel packages including five finishes on the forged aluminum wheels and carbon fiber ones. It'll offer seven interior colors as well, three seat choices and six seatbelt options. There are also two interior carbon fiber trim packages, plus a "Stealth Aluminum" option and six colors for brake calipers. Available safety features included rear park assist, rearview camera, front and rear cameras with curb view, blind-spot indicators, rear cross traffic alert, a head-up display and a review mirror camera.
We don't have a price yet, but last generation's Z06 started about $25,000 more than the base car. Doing the math today, that would put the new Z06 at around $85,000, which we think is reasonable. Stick around, we'll have a lot more on the new Ferrari killer soon.