Now that the new mid-engined C8 generation Chevrolet Corvette is making its way onto the road, the next item on the development list is the first performance variant. The Z06 designation goes back to 1963 and is aimed at those planning to thrash their Corvette at the track. The C7 Z06 is the most capable of its kind to date and was developed alongside the C7.R race car. It’s an absolute beast of a vehicle and an adversary to any supercar that it pulls up alongside, and that means the C8 Z06 has big boots to fill.
Chevrolet has, expectedly, not been forthcoming about details. However, there’s been enough Chevrolet insiders dripping information, spy shots, and leaked product-development plans to mix with official news that we now have a decent picture of what’s coming. These are the eight things to know about the C8 Corvette Z06.
Engine: Race Car Derived
The standard version of the Corvette comes with a naturally aspirated V8 making 490 horsepower (495 with the Z51 package) and 470 lb-ft of torque. The Z06 model will come packed with a DOHC 32-valve 5.5-liter V8, with a special trick up its sleeve. It’s a detuned version of the C8.R race car’s engine. That means it has a flat-plane crank and will rev a lot higher than its cross-plane sibling. The engine is expected to make over 600 horsepower and shriek like a banshee up to 8,500 or 9,000 rpm. It’ll have a relentless power curve, and with the new midship layout, that power should be incredibly useable.
Transmission: Lightning Fast
Unfortunately, the C8.R’s Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox won’t be practical on something that will also be driven on the road. So, distributing that frantic power in the Z06 will be an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle co-developed with Temec. The C8 Corvette is already fast, and with the new layout, race-car derived engine, and juiced-up transmission, the Z06 package should improve on straight-line speed as well as snaking through corners.
Aerodynamics: Active And Upgradable
It’s a no-brainer that the Z06 will feature a whole new aerodynamic package, including active aerodynamics. Recent spy shots have caught the Z06 prototypes sporting a massive rear wing, reminiscent in shape of the one on the back of the Koenigsegg Agera R. It’s different to the large wing found on the race car, but should still create a lot of downforce while minimizing drag. There’s been chatter from inside sources that the wing will be standard, but we suspect it will be part of a Z07 package. We’re expecting two extra packages to be available with more aggressive use of airflow.
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Tires: Serious Performance Rubber
Getting all the power to the road while also maximizing grip in the corners means the Z06 needs to be on super-sticky tires. Reports are pointing to Chevrolet using Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, which will do the trick. They will be mounted on 20-inch wheels at the front with larger 21-inch discs at the back. The tires will measure 275/30R20 at the front and 345/25R21 at the rear, which means they will be 0.4 inches wider than the outgoing C7 Z06, and the wheels will be an inch shorter on all four corners. Rumor has it that there will be optional carbon-fiber wheels, but we’re taking that as a given.
Chassis: Major Upgrades
The C8 Corvette has already shown it has an incredibly capable chassis, helping develop a lot of grip with quick and involving dynamics. Speculation is that the Magnetic Ride Control system could be swapped out for a version of GM’s Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) system. It’s already in use for a range of GM’s performance models, including the Camaro ZL1 1LE and Colorado ZR2, and has featured in motorsport applications. Brakes will also be a big focus, and likely something similar to the C7 Z06’s proven ceramic-matrix system.
Performance: Supercar Grade
The Z51 packaged C8 Corvette has been time hitting 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph. We’re expecting the Z06 package to shave at least a tenth of a second off that 0-60 mph time. The quarter-mile is irrelevant, as it will be designed for tracks with corners, and that’s where it should blow the doors off a standard C8.
With more air being used to push it down,a tuned suspension, more aggressive brakes, and the fast-revving flat-plane crank engine, we expect the new Zo6 to turn up to the Nurburgring and lay down a remarkably fast time. GM never set an “official” C7 Z06 lap time in Germany, as a crash ended the party. But unofficially it has been clocked with a time of 7:13.9.
We don’t expect the high-performance interior to differ too much from the standard model as Chevrolet is going back to the stripped-down roots of the Z06. Track-focused seats with aggressive bolstering are likely, and perhaps some more Alcantara. Other than that, we only expect to see some Z06 badging and some subtle yet unique accenting. As it’s a track-oriented car, we could see a factory harness option be offered.
Price And Production: Expensive And Delayed
The C8 Corvette Z06 will be firmly in supercar territory, so it will be expensive. However, it is a Corvette and so Chevrolet will try and make it relatively affordable. Therefore, we expect it to come in at a little over $90,000 (the C7 Z06 starts at just over $80k) before adding any packages. Which, for supercar levels of performance at the track will be a bargain. Like all Corvettes, it’ll be built at the Bowling Green plant in Kentucky, with the engine assembled at the on-site Performance Build Center. Initially, the Z06 was expected to arrive at the end of next year as a 2022 model year car, but we don’t expect production to now start until early 2022.