by Scott Teeters as republished from Vette Magazine
The Z06 lineage is amazing: ’63 RPO Z06 “Racer Kit,” ’01-’04 Hardtop “Tough Guy,” ’06-’13 “Badass Quasi-racer,” and now the ’15 “Supercar for Everyone.” The C5 Z06 took advantage of the hardtop’s more rigid structure. The C6 Z06 (coupe-only) took the hydroformed frame structure to a new level and was crafted in all aluminum. The base C7 coupe and roadster now have an aluminum structure that is more rigid than the C6 Z06. It’s so good that the design can easily handle an additional 190 horsepower in coupe and convertible configurations.
Where the C6 Z06 was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, the C7 Z06 is a monster with manners, delivering world-class performance as a hatchback coupe or a roadster. In a break from the manual transmission only tradition, the C7 Z06 is available with an eight-speed automatic designed to keep the engine in the powerband at all speeds. For traditionalists, the seven-speed manual transmission has rev-matching. From 2006 to 2010, all Z06s were created equal. Then, from 2010 to 2013, a Z06 could be enhanced with the Z07 Ultimate Performance Package. The Z07 package lives on in the C7 Z06 and includes carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber aero package, revised suspension tune, and (nearly slicks) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
The C7 Z06 is truly a boutique supercar: coupe or convertible, manual or automatic, three levels of trim, three aero packages, and dozens of options. The commonality of all versions is the new widebody and supercharged LT4 engine. There is nothing on the exterior that doesn’t reflect the “form follows function” rule. The width of the car was determined by the use of the ZR1-sized 19×10 front and 20×12 rear wheels. The body is 2 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the back. Side fender vents are bigger for improved venting. The front grille has two corner scoops to gulp cool air for the front brakes. The rear top fender scoops have air blades that funnel more air into the differential and transmission coolers. The rear fender side scoops provide cool air to the rear brakes.
The hood has a larger vent to reduce front lift and is taller to cover the Eaton R1949 TVS supercharged/intercooled LT4 engine package that is just 1-inch taller than the base LT1. The basic Z06 comes with an aggressive front splitter/wheel arch spats design and the rear spoiler from the Z51 package. The “aero” part of the Z07 package includes larger front winglettes for the front splitter and a see-through rear spoiler center section. Want more aero? The carbon-fiber aero package includes either black or fiber-finish front splitter with aviation-style winglettes, carbon-fiber side rockers, and a larger rear spoiler. All ground effects are race-proven.
The LT4 engine packs 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque and includes an Eaton supercharger/intercooler, titanium intake valves, dry-sump oil system, direct injection, continuous variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation. The C7 Z06 with the eight-speed automatic and the Z07 option put the car into the 2-second club for the first time. Chevrolet squeezed the Z06’s 0-60 to 2.95 seconds and the quarter-mile in 10.95 at 127 mph. The Z06 starts at $78,995 and can be optioned out close to $100,000.
The C7 Corvette has shaken off all of its former deficiencies and blasted way ahead of its booming big-block thunder days. Will we see a Grand Sport with Z06-like good looks but with more mellow performance? Will there be a C7 ZR1? Or will the C7 be short-lived with the mid-engine C8 taking the Corvette to its ultimate configuration? Stay tuned, these are very exciting times.
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