What began as a mere performance package back in 1963, the Corvette Z06 has morphed into a thoroughbred racer for track day warriors and street-loving hooligans alike. After the seventh generation Corvette Stingray debuted this time last year—arguably becoming the best Vette in the brand’s storied history—anticipation for the next track-focused Corvette has been at an all-time high.
Enter the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, revealed today at the Detroit Auto Show, featuring a brand-new supercharged engine with more that 625 demonic ponies.
If the new Stingray was the best Vette yet, the 2015 Z06 promises to be even better still.
Yes, the latest Z06 claims to be the most capable Corvette ever, with engineers declaring lap times quicker than the 2014 Corvette ZR1, despite the car’s performance setup still receiving its final tweaks. It also bares a striking resemblance to the new Corvette C7.R racecar, a machine that was also revealed today in Detroit.
Much of those similarities stem from the car’s multiple winglets. The giant hood vent not only helps cooling but adds downforce, and if you option the carbon-fiber aero package, you’re granted an even larger front splitter with aviation-style wings and a bigger rear spoiler featuring a fixed wickerbill (a lip on the edge of the wing that traps air, producing a drastic increase in rear downforce).
But it’s the optional Z07 package where things really come alive: the winglets on the front splitter are enlarged and the rear spoiler arrives with a see-through center section that can be adjusted up and down significantly to tailor the amount of downforce produced. With this setup, the Z06 boasts the most amount of downforce of any production car GM has ever tested—including all of its competitors.
Ticking the Z07 package also adds larger carbon ceramic-matrix brakes, delivering a 23 lb. saving over the standard steel rotors. The monster tires, too, turn from Michelin Pilot Sport to the racing-inspired, practically slick Sport Cup tires. Inside you have the option of a GT seat or the Competition Seat, the latter being the preferred choice—but not if you’re carrying excess holiday weight.
At the heart of the 2015 Z06 is the all-new LT4 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, boasting a monstrous 635 lb.-ft. of torque to compliment its 625 hp. That’s an increase of over 100 horsepower compared to the outgoing Z06.
Like the Stingray, the Z06 features cylinder deactivation to help with fuel efficiency, but unlike the Stingray, it adopts a dry sump oiling system rather than a wet one.
Further changes occur in the transmission—notably the addition of a brand-new 8-speed automatic. Fear not, a 7-speed manual is available with the same rev-matching feature used in the base Corvette but the auto promises upshifts eight-hundredths of a second faster than Porsche’s notorious PDK transmission.
That’s a lofty claim for a company that doesn’t have a competitive performance automatic in its current arsenal, and this isn’t even a dual-clutch system. If Chevy has indeed produced a class-leading paddle-shift auto, this will prove to be a huge asset when it makes its way onto other GM vehicles in the future.
Arriving as standard with Magnetic Ride Control dampers, offering settings from Touring mode to Track mode, the Z06 now comes with a removable, lightweight carbon-fiber roof panel. With it off, the Z06 still manages an improved stiffness of 20-percent over the outgoing model; with it in place, it claims a whopping 60-percent increase. The featherweight aluminum frame remains essentially the same as that on the C7.R racecar, and an electronic differential comes as standard.
Performance specs aren’t yet available; neither is price. But like any Corvette, the Z06 promises unsurpassed speed for a relative bargain. When it goes on sale early 2015, it will join the likes of the new Camaro Z/28 and SS sedan, proving Chevrolet’s current performance lineup rivals that of the world’s best.