At what point does a sports car become a proper supercar? This might be the answer: the new Corvette Z06. It’s not just a C7-Corvette Stingray with a few extra bodywork trinkets – this ‘Vette has more power than a McLaren F1, and tech from the new C7.R endurance racecar.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06: the engine spec
The old Z06 plumped for displacement – it had a 7.0-litre V8 with 505bhp. The new Z06, on the other hand, makes that engine look limp-wristed, and its outputs pathetic. The C7 Z06 uses a 6.2-litre V8, boosted by a 1.7-litre supercharger which spins its turbine at 20,000rpm.
Though finalised power figures are yet to be revealed, Chevrolet promises the Z06 will develop ‘at least 625 horsepower, and 635lb ft’. That’s more than the twin-turbo V8 in the back of a McLaren 12C produces. This is a serious piece of kit.
Hold on – are those paddleshifters?
Well spotted – what that monstrous engine is connected to is proving very controversial. The Z06 is being offered for the first time in its history as an automatic. The ’box in question is an eight-speed torque-converter with paddleshifters, which GM claims is lighter than Porsche’s benchmark PDK dual-clutcher, and can swap cogs even faster. We smell a grudge match with the new PDK-only Porsche 991 GT3 on the way. Don’t panic, heel-and-toe fanatics – there’s a seven-speed manual Z06 as well, featuring an with auto-rev matching function if you can’t throttle-blip after all.
Is the Z06 an old-fashioned Yank tank underneath?
It’s good enough to support the C7.R racing car, so we’d have to say ‘no’. The aluminium spaceframe is retained from the C7 Stingray, and will go racing in the new Corvette C7.R later in 2014. The structure is so stiff that Chevy has been able to make this the first targa-top Z06 – the removable roof panel is carbonfibre, as is the bonnet.
Even with the roof removed, Chevy claims the Z06 is 20% stiffer than the strictly fixed-head C6 ZR1. Clip the roof back in and you’re 60% more rigid than the best last-gen ‘Vette. Crikey, the bowtie boys really have done their homework…
There’s a major chassis overhaul too. The Z06 is 56mm wider across the front axle than a C7 Stingray, and a whopping 80mm wider across the back. The stretch means the Z06 actually has a bespoke rear fasica, which pushes the taillight clusters further apart than on the standard car’s rump, to maintain the right proportions. The body is also covered in extra vents, intakes and aero addenda. Does it look over the top to you? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
The car pictured here wears the range-topping (and confusingly titled) Z07 package. This includes a see-through rear spoiler section, and larger front winglets. Thus equipped, the Z06 creates more downforce than any road car in GM’s history.
Hate steel disc brakes. Fear not. Carbon-ceramic brakes are on the Z06 options list, fed by unique-to-Z06 brake cooling ducts. Wider tyres are wrapped around lightweight aluminium wheels, measuring 19in up front and 20in on the rear.
Inside, you get a choice of comfort-biased ‘GT’ seats, or aggressively bolstered ‘Competition’ buckets. Both use magnesium frames to shave yet more grams from the (unknown) kerbweight, while other surfaces in the C7’s vastly improved cabin get the suede treatment. Carbon and aluminium cockpit trim is available too.
That’s not all – Chevy has gone to town on driver tech too. You get an electronic limited slip differential (a la Jaguar F-type R coupe), and a three-stage driver assistance setting. Toggle between mild terror and almost certain death as the safety nannies are dialled down and eventually off on your 625hp American missile. Plus, launch control and a specific ‘Track mode’ make this the fastest road-going Corvette ever around Chevy’s test circuits.
Sounds like the new Porsche 911 GT3 could actually have a fight on its hands?
We’re as surprised as you are. Especially as the Corvette Z06 should be the value option: it could cost less than $100,000 in its home market, where the 469bhp GT3 retails for $130,400. We’ll find out when the Z06 arrives in US showrooms in early 2015 – and hopefully in Europe soon after.