Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Road test report 23 Photos Zoom

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 in the road test report: With 650 supercharged HP on the race track

The new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has an eight-cylinder compressor in place of the 7-litre naturally aspirated engine. With 650 HP, how does the most powerful series-produced Corvette do on the race track?

Cylinder capacity? 6.2 litres. Power? 650 HP. Maximum torque? 881 Newton metres. A sincere welcome to the Chevrolet Corvette Z06! Ever since its predecessor from the C6 series, the US sports car has been taken very seriously. For a long time, yobbish ice cream parlour racers have been sun-bathing in other HP boxes. The Z06, based on the Corvette C7 Stingray, hopes to continue the image transformation and really give the sports car competition something to worry about.

Visually speaking, the footballer among sports cars achieves this immediately. Muscular looking wheel arches, a lush powerdome on the bonnet and, if desired, numerous carbon add-ons make the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 the road-approved double of its racing sister the C7.R, which has experienced success in Le Mans.

Corvette Z06 is the most powerful series-produced Corvette

Our Chevrolet Corvette Z06 test car featured the optional Z07 Performance Package. Alongside the aggressive front splitter, side splitters and an adjustable rear wing attachment, the package also includes more firm adaptive dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 sports tyres, plus ceramic brakes rather than steel.

Click - the carbon bonnet of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 jumps up and we then get our first glance at the new 650 HP powerhouse. However, before the HP party gets going at the limit range, we first take a moment to lay to rest another legendary naturally aspirated engine. A brief pause to cast our minds back to the seven-litre hero with 505 HP from the last Z06. No other engine has turned, rocked and fired with such emotion as the large eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. We will always remember the roaring exhaust – rest in peace LS7.

Smaller cylinder capacity, but turbo-charged

With the 6.2-litre V8 that is referred to internally as the LT4, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 features a compressor engine. The starting point for the design was the 460 HP LT1 V8 naturally aspirated engine from the C7. On the one hand, even the small block unit in the Z06 remains true to the old school technology typical in a Corvette, with a central camshaft and two valves per cylinder, but on the other hand it does feature modern technical aspects such as direct injection, cylinder deactivation and variable valve control. In addition, with the Eaton TVS R1740 compressor, which crouches between the two rows of cylinders, a supercharger is used that produces engine speeds of up to 20,150 rpm and can thus turn 5,070 rpm faster than the well-known R2300 TVS compressor from the C6 Corvette ZR1 with 638 HP.

Inside, the Corvette Z06 is almost a C7

Enough with the technology class, and we quickly jump in behind the steering wheel of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Stop it - sofa-like Corvette air chairs were yesterday. The optional bucket seats score points with a lower sitting position, pleasantly firm upholstery and good lateral support. Visually the interior is by and large similar to the already familiar C7 Stingray, with the exception of the steering wheel with Z06 lettering and a slightly flat underside, and the lettering on the central console.

Greater distinction between the new top-of-the-range Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and its "normal Vettes" would have been great. Still: in comparison to the previous model, the quality of finish in the interior has been made more appealing and of higher quality – the overdose of hard plastic is gone.

Let there be sound!

The time that those who had up until now counted themselves fans of naturally aspirated engines had been waiting for has arrived – a press of the start button and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 answers the question as to whether or not it is love or hate at the first sound. Okay, the seven-litre predecessor remains undefeated, but there is no way that you could accuse the 6.2-litre engine of acoustic restraint. The V8 compressor awakens with a bark from the exhaust and then crouches ready to pounce with a low idling gurgle, even making many a speedboat sound somewhat pathetic.

The clutch of the manual seven-speed transmission isn't playing around any more – the robust, sharp clutch clicks of its predecessor is history, with the control of the clutch in the new model as soft as butter. First, second, third gear – the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 storms voraciously onto the deserted race track. The manual seven-speed transmission also works by and large precisely during fast gear shifts, only the change of column when switching from sixth to seventh feels notchy. But in any case the overdrive with the long ratio is about as interesting as the calorie information on your favourite bottle of ketchup. Only short for cruisers: the new Z06 engine is also great at bobbing lazily along country roads in seventh gear.

ESP off and up to the limit

Back in the limit range: prior to our first trip to the race track, we sharpened the blades of the Z06 weapon using the rotary control and ESP button that is already known from the C7 central console. Weather, Eco, Tour Sport or Track? Its clear which mode we here in Nevada are fond of. The Track mode of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 sharpens the characteristic curve of the accelerator, the electro-mechanical power steering and the adaptive dampers to the max. The electronically controlled differential locking, eLSD, with a hydraulically activated clutch for the control of the locking effect, not cooperates with greater motivation, as does the exhaust sytstem. The Vette now rips open both flaps in the external exhaust pipes and the combustion bass hammers out the finest eight-cylinder rock.

No sooner have we applied full load for the first time and we know that the switch to the V8 compressor was the right choice. There really cannot be any complaint regarding the full throttle response. Man, and how the thing moves: agitated, the switch lights flicker in the instrument cluster one after the other, while the analogue charging pressure needle dances boisterously, announcing the maximum charge pressure of 0.65 bar. The engine can turn at a maximum speed of up to 6,600 rpm (LS7-Z06: 7,000 rpm). In so doing the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 engages in an acceleration orgy, of which even the 638 HP ZR1 will be jealous. Even without measuring instruments you can tell straight away which is the most powerful thoroughbred in the Corvette stall.

Corvette Z06 with Performance Traction Control

We drive the youngest race horse around the course, casting off the reins of the ESP from the very outset. If you do not trust the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, you can slowly approach the limit range with caution, thanks to the five-stage traction control (Performance Traction Control). But, with its firm, leaf-sprung damping, its sterring with robust holding force in Track mode and the manual transmission, the Z06 is a rugged character actor, but in no way an untameable HP beast. It shines with fantastic mechanical traction, precise handling and more or less neutral balance. The chassis developers are particularly proud of the tuning of the steering.

As already seen in the C7 Stingray, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 now, for the first time, also features electro-mechanical power steering with variable ratio. The feedback is no longer quite so bone dry as in the case of its predecessor's steering system, but the steering forces in Track mode still taste of robust, high-performance sport. For those who simply like to cruise, they would be better sticking to the lighter-footed Tour mode.

The Corvette Z06 weighs around 160 kilos

But today we would rather continue surfing on the ideal line. So too when accelerating out of curves with dedicated load application, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 ZP sports tyres developed especially for the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 stick to the asphalt, thanks to their slick-style level of grip. The electronic differential locking, which distributes the torque to the rear axles as appropriate in the situation, depending on the speed, the steering angle and throttle flap position, working in a laid back fashion and without a hint of synthetic affectation. If you want, you can still produce enough of a cloud of smoke with the Z06 to have every fire fighting units on red alert...

In comparison to the previous model, the new Z06 has really bulked up. The new model is reported to be around 160 kilos heavier. The first culprit: the new LT4 V8 compressor weighs around 30 kilos more than the old LS7 naturally aspirated engine (weight includes all auxiliary devices: 208 kilos). The remaining extra pounds are accounted for by the new aluminium frame from the C7, among other new features, which is,however, said to give the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 around 60 percent greater rigidity compared to the previous model.

For the first time ever with 8-speed automatic transmission

Don't panic - the new love handles seemingly have no effect on the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, neither with regard to the explosive drive on the highway, nor when pushed to the limit. In place of the manual seven-speed transmission, for the first time ever in the Z06, a newly developed eight-wpeed automatic transmission can be ordered at additional cost. The automatic transmission, referred to internally as the 8L90, is barely any larger than the optional six-speed automatic (6L80) in the C7.

With a meaty jolt the gears are manually snapped in, while the transmission with the "Active Rev Match" double-clutch function activated fires out magnificent gear shift roars – there is no need to discuss at length which transmission variant in the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is more fun to drive.

Christian Gebhardt

Photo

Thorsten Weigl

Date

16 March 2015
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