More powerful than the Lamborghini Huracan, more melodic than the Ferrari F8 Tributo and a third of the price of the McLaren 720S, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2023 is the cheapest supercar of the year. Really, what else would you buy for an expected $90-100k?
Funny you have to ask, because while the C8 Z06 might undercut any European exotic by a sizeable margin, it doesn’t have a whole field to itself. Buyers looking for a mid-engined sports car for $100k have a number of new and used options.
2023 Corvette Z06
Price: $90,000 to $100,000 (EST)
Before we get started on the other options, let’s quickly remind ourselves what’s in the Z06 package. The star of the show is, of course, the new 5.5-liter V8. Fitted with a flat crank, like its European rival, and capable of turning up to 8,600 rpm, it produces 670 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. But just as importantly, it’s a turbo-free zone, which means better sound and no lag. Think of it as a cousin of the Kentucky Ferrari 458.
Related: 2023 Corvette Z06 Is The Ultimate C8 With 670HP Flat-Plane Crank V8 That Sounds Angry
A wider body and track than the standard C8, standard adaptive dampers and carbon ceramic brakes are available as part of the optional Z07 package which also includes a stiffer suspension, aero kit and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R rubber. making the $90k base price estimate a distant memory, you can define carbon wheels that save a total of 41 lbs. The only downside is the lack of a manual transmission option; like every other serious supercar, the Z06 only comes with a dual clutch box.
2023 Lotus Emira First Edition
Arriving in US showrooms in the fall of 2022, a few months after the Z06, the Lotus Emira picks up where the old Evora left off, but with a much greater emphasis on quality and sophistication. The entry-level car that comes later will get a 2.0-liter four-turbocharged engine from Mercedes-AMG, priced at around $74,900. But the first batch of First Edition cars to land in the United States will be powered by a 400 hp supercharged Toyota V6 and carry a sticker price of $93,900.
That output puts the Lotus at a huge 270-hp loss compared to the Z06, and its 4.2-second zero-to-62 mph (100 km/h) time is probably at least more than a second slower than the Vette would have done. But many might think it’s a fair price to pay for the manual transmission option your Lotus dealer will offer and your Chevy won’t.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 2021
This is where things get complicated. The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 isn’t just the best Cayman, it’s one of the best Porsches you can buy, period. Like the Lotus, the GT4 is much less powerful than the Z06, its 4.0-liter flat-six engine only producing 414 hp. But the naturally aspirated motor is gorgeous, turning up to 8000 rpm, and you get a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.
Factor in a chassis that’s nearly 10 inches shorter in wheelbase than the Z06 and perhaps 500 lbs (227 kg) lighter, and you have a sports car perfect for technical tracks and twisty back roads.
2015 Audi R8 V8 or 2014 V10
Price: Around $100,000
We love the Audi R8, but we can’t be the only ones who feel like it’s lost its shine because the Corvette put its V8 horse at the back of the carriage. And now the Z06 is where we can imagine the already slow sales of the R8 have almost stopped altogether.
Related: Strolling around the New Corvette Z06 2023
The new $148,700 R8 sticker will stick to the throat of anyone who just saw $90k in the Z06 window, and Vette’s money will only get you to the first generation, the pre-2016 R8. Both the 424 hp V8 and 525 hp V10 from that era are great to drive, and there’s Lambo DNA to brag about, plus a manual option on the V8. But do any of you really want to use a seven-year-old Audi over the new Z06?
2000 Ferrari 360 Modena
Price: Around $90,000
The sublime Ferrari 458 may have the same spirit as the Z06, but certainly not in price, even the earliest 2012 model changed hands for $160,000. You have to go back almost 20 years to find a mid-engine Ferrari you can buy for $90k, we bet the Z06 will be worth it.
The 360 Modena’s 3.6-liter V8 produces less than 400 hp, reaches 60 mph in just 4 seconds and is available with a manual transmission. But the three-pedal 360s carries a ridiculous 33 percent premium according to Hagerty, meaning you’ll almost certainly be stuck with the clunky F1 semi-auto for the Z06’s money.
2004 Lamborghini Gallardo
Price: Around $100,000
We’ve rejected the Audi R8, but will the Lamborghini badge on the same chassis change your mind? For the same $100k that would get you to the 2015 R8 V8, you’ll have to settle for a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, but the key fob definitely has real credit, even if the key itself looks suspiciously like a non-existent VW Golf.
Related: 2023 Corvette Z06 Configurator Shows Broad Choice Ahead of Launch
Pre-2008 Gallardos make 493 hp (513 hp from 2005-on) from their 5.0-liter V10, and for the price of the Z06 with optional carbon brakes and wheels, you might even squeeze yourself into one of the less common six. speed manual model.
Which mid-engine sports car will get your money’s worth? Vote in the poll below and leave a comment to let us know.