Chevrolet delivers flat-plane crank 5.5-litre V8 to new Z06 – and will build RHD cars, too
By PH Staff / Tuesday, October 26, 2021 / Loading comments
Just as the right-hand-drive Corvette goes on sale in the UK, Chevrolet has dropped the Z06 bomb in the US. Very few go-faster badges rival the model’s six-decade heritage – it can trace its origins back to a 1963 option box – and has always been about better preparing the Corvette for life on a circuit. This time around, with a mid-engine car to work with for the first time, the manufacturer promised it would be ‘purpose-built to dominate the track’ – a pledge it appears to have followed through on.
As expected, the car’s headline feature is the all-aluminium 5.5-litre, double-overhead camshaft, flat-plane crank LT6 V8 that shares with the C8.R. This is significant because a) it does away with the C8’s current small-block 6.2-litre V8; b) it differs from the forced induction approach its supercharged predecessor adopted; and c) it redlines at 8,600rpm and sounds wonderfully apocalyptic. Moreover, via a standard, shorter final drive eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, it delivers 670hp and 460lb ft to the rear wheels – which we think makes it the most powerful atmospheric production V8 ever.
Chevrolet has harnessed the wild new output by making the Z06 fully 940mm wider than the standard Corvette, mainly to accommodate 345-section Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (Sport Cup 2 R rubber is optional) at the rear. Bigger bumpers and unique fascias – a first for the Z06 – also allow for larger air intakes, although at the back your eye will likely be drawn to the new fixed spoiler, which gets adjustable Gurney flaps helping to generate more downforce on track.
The standard 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels are the largest ever fitted to a production Corvette, and are forged aluminium as standard – although true believers can opt for carbon fibre wheels that deliver a 18.6kg reduction in unsprung mass. Behind them Chevrolet has fitted bigger 370mm discs at the front, and 380mm at the rear, clamped by six-piston callipers. Again, carbon ceramic rotors are available as an option.
Architecturally, the Z06 is no different to the regular Corvette – and will also be available as a hardtop convertible – although predictably the manufacturer has recalibrated the car’s suspension for better circuit performance, as well as fitting its Magnetic Selective Ride Control 4.0 system as standard. The latter is one of many tailored drive features, including a plethora of stability and traction management systems – on top of the electronic limited-slip differential – which are said to make the Z06 the most track-capable Corvette ever.
Apart from the Z07, that is. Yep, there’s a performance pack for the performance flagship, which incorporates most of the optional extras mentioned including a carbon fibre rear wing, front dive planes and underbody strakes for some ground effect. This little lot will whip up more downforce than any Corvette has previously delivered, and, alongside bespoke chassis settings, is said to result in a car capable of 1.22g mid corner. Which is a lot.
There’s no word on price yet – the car isn’t due to make its way down the Bowling Green Assembly line till next summer – but the good news on top of already quite a lot of good news is that Chevrolet suggests it will build the new Z06 in both left- and right-hand drive formats. Which means that with an additional sprinkling of luck, we might just see some cars officially made available in the UK come 2023. And wouldn’t that be something?
- Corvette gets 2022MY update
- RHD Corvette UK price confirmed at £81k
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