Today, Chevrolet unveiled its new range-topping Corvette Z06 model. This marks the return of the Z06 moniker – and all the amazing things it has always stood for – for the first time in the latest C8-generation of their infamous sports car (turned mid-engine supercar). During the livestream, the world got its first look at the most track-focused and performance-oriented iteration of the American automaker’s halo product, with basketball superstar Devin Booker and automotive personality Emelia Hartford co-curating all the latest revelations to a global audience.
“A global supercar, which is tantalizingly attainable.”
– Justin Bell, former British race car driver
The team in charge of the development of the Z06 are confident that their latest model will elevate the car to true global superstar status; for the first time, the automaker will be producing right-hand-drive versions of the Corvette to cater to overseas customers, of whom are already demanding more than what the company says they can readily supply.
You can tune in to the recording of today’s unveiling event on YouTube, below.
Engine & Performance
“It’ll perform with the best of the best worldwide… bringing all of our track experience to the everyday enthusiast.”
– Tadge Juecther, Corvette Chief Engineer
In the months prior to the camo coming off, we’d been teased with a couple video snippets of what the new Z06 has on tap; and Chevrolet has made it abundantly clear that their latest Corvette model is a derivative of their latest race-bred technologies and unyielding philosophies. More recently, another promo video made a brief nod to the new Z06’s flat-plane crank engine – dubbed the LT6 – being able to rev all the way to 8,600 rpm. The design team was tasked with achieving this without the use of forced induction (like how a supercharger was used in the previous-gen Z06), and blimey the naturally-aspirated unit sounds fantastic. This is in large part due to a specially engineered “reverse megaphone” exhaust which provides harmonic bliss for the driver and cabin, and for those admiring from the outside.
We now know that the 5.5L naturally-aspirated V8 produces 670 hp @ 8,400 rpm and 460 ft-lb of torque; this is in fact more than that of the C8.R race car (also seen in the video material linked above), which is limited to 500 hp due to IMSA regulations. Aluminum forged pistons and titanium connecting rods are used to enhance the Z06’s performance potential and provide drivers with the ultimate in “mechanical feel”.
Handcrafted by Chevrolet master technicians, the engine pulls strong throughout the entire rev range and is the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 engine in a production car; not just in a Corvette, but in any car around the world, mind you. This all-modern all-American V8 is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission which sends power – in a much more traditional sense – exclusively to the rear wheels. Chevrolet has claimed that 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds is attainable with the Z07 Performance Package included (more on that below).
“The LT6 truly opens the doors to what we can do with a small block V8.”
Chassis & Braking
“Even though the numbers are incredible, it’s not really a numbers car.”
– Tadge Juecther, Corvette Chief Engineer
The architecture for the Z06 has been recalibrated and fine-tuned in order to extract the full performance potential of the Corvette chassis. For starters, this means a 3.6″ wider stance than the Stingray, with redesigned body panels fashioned to accommodate it; and for the first time, the Z06 will feature a standard double staggered wheel/tire setup from the factory which features 20″ (front) and 21″ (rear) wheels, with 275-series and 345-series tires fitted on them respectively. This design takes full advantage of the C8’s rear-biased weight distribution, helping to put power to the ground with greater efficiency than any other Corvette road car before it.
The available Z07 Performance Package really takes things to the next level, and has been specially made for those who are looking to maximize the Z06’s abilities on the race track. Amongst the equipment included are carbon fiber wheels (which shed 41 lbs of unsprung weight compared to the standard forged aluminum wheels), carbon ceramic brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. It also incorporates the otherwise optional Aggressive Aerodynamic Package, which adds a v-shaped carbon fiber rear wing, front dive planes and a more aggressive splitter. When equipped with the aforementioned hardware, the Z06 can produce up to 734 lbs of downforce at 186 mph, though unfortunately, the rumors about there being certain “active” aerodynamic elements, didn’t come to fruition.
“It has all of those feelings of a race car… fundamentally, it’s a race car you can drive on the road.”
– Ollie Gavin, legendary Corvette Racing driver
Design & Styling
“We respect our past, but we’re always moving forward.”
– Tadge Juecther, Corvette Chief Engineer
Many of us are still lingering in the “hangover” phase, since the day Chevrolet transformed the Corvette into a mid-engined supercar; one that has become much more a contemporary of European flair, than American pragmatism. Nevertheless, those of us who have gotten over it will be more than delighted with the trajectory on which the Z06 continues to take the C8 platform.
In spite of its performance-biased nature, Chevrolet will offer the Z06 in both coupe and convertible configurations – important for traditional fans of the brand – with a plethora of exterior colors, interior packages, and wheel packages offering no shortage of possible permutations. There’s room for generous servings of carbon fiber inside and outside the car, including a carbon roof and carbon interior accenting. You can also spec your Corvette with luxurious leathers, with the Adrenaline Red Leather Trim Package adding both popping-contrast and sleek refinement to the cabin. Chevrolet says that there are more than 11,000 unique combinations of options to make the car bespoke to your personal tastes.
Regardless of how you end up customizing your Z06, there are some things which will be standard for all cars. This includes larger wheels, beefier tires and a wider stance compared to that of the Stingray. Flared quarter panels and front fenders, along with unique and exclusive Z06 front and rear facias, further set the car apart from the rest of the C8 lineup. Replaceable spoiler wicker bills, rear brake cooling ducts, a removeable front fascia panel and front underwing stall gurneys all serve the important purpose of increasing downforce, reducing drag and cooling drivetrain and brake components. The aforementioned Z07 Performance Package turns all of that up to 11, while providing the Z06 with a much more aggressive and purposeful silhouette.
Inside, expect features such as the 12.0″ digital gauge cluster, heads-up display, heated and ventilated seats, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to be standard. Two tiers of Bose stereo systems will also be offered to enhance the grand touring experience, while a Performance Data Recorder is also available for those who wish to analyze their driving on the race track (or public roads too, if that’s your thing).
Pricing & Availability
Chevrolet has stated that production of the Corvette Z06 will begin in mid-2022 and that the car will be designated as a 2023 model, so we can expect the first deliveries to start trickling in by next summer. The official website suggests that they’re currently entertaining “inquiries” for the Z06 – and you can even start designing your own – although no official word on pricing has been publicly provided yet.
For now we can only speculate, and if past performance is the best indicator of future performance, then we should expect the new Z06 to start at around $90,000 USD; this would put it at about $30,000 more than the base car’s starting MSRP, which seems reasonable based on statistics and history. This is of course before any of the boxes for optional hardware are ticked, but the car remains an absolute bargain for everything that’s on tap, nonetheless.
“The Z06 is the next chapter in a very long book.”
It feels like yesterday when Chevrolet had released their new mid-engined performance car, in the process breaking with the decades-old convention of what the Corvette has always been. That was a feat on its own, as the world witnessed the moment with delight; and now, the Corvette Z06 has arrived to elevate our senses to a whole new level. Like every C8-generation model before it, the Z06 allows the Corvette to punch well above its weight class and take on much more expensive (but not necessarily more sophisticated) competition.
The Z06 looks to take this fight to our favorite stage – the race track – where it can have uninhibited access to its exotic-slaying arsenal, and go toe-to-toe with the very best high-performance road cars on the planet. With its 670 hp flat-plane crank V8, unbelievably attainable exotic performance, and near-unlimited customization options, there’s no reason the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 won’t become an absolute hit amongst impassioned loyalists, data-driven pragmatists and everyone in between – it’s a true winner in every regard.
Under similar pretenses, the Honda NSX forever altered the supercar landscape back in 1990. Will the latest Corvette do the same today? It sure as heck looks like it.