We talk a lot about reaching the pinnacle of internal combustion engine design when referring to a modern-day Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini, but Chevrolet may have reached its own engineer nirvana with the all-new C8-generation Corvette Z06. We’ve pondered, guessed, and pondered it, but only now can we confirm that the new Z06 will feature a flat-plane crank in a new and bespoke engine that is now the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 in the world. Come on.
Like all high-end Corvettes in the modern era, the numbers were fantastic. The new LT5 V8 is handcrafted, and directly derived from the motorsport engine already used in the IMSA C8-R Chevrolet racer. Like the competition unit, the LT5 starts with an aluminum block that maintains the 44mm hole spacing of GM’s iconic small block, but from there it deviates greatly from GM’s signature LS engine.
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Combined with that flat-plane crank, the short stroke and lightweight interior – including forged pistons and titanium conrods – allow the engine to crank right up to the 8600rpm redline. It has dual overhead camshafts (no pushrods here) with high-end manufacturing elements inside including CNC heads (a very expensive addition to mass-produced machines), titanium intake valves and sodium filled exhaust valves. It’s also dry-sumped.
The results are excellent, hitting a peak power of 670bhp at 8400rpm, with torque also strong at 460lb ft slightly further below the rev band at 6300rpm – impressive numbers considering the flat-crank built-in torque compromise. Chevrolet has yet to confirm specific performance figures, but has given a wild 2.5 second estimate. And we can believe it, because with a dry weight of 1561kg (the lightest), an eight-speed dual clutch transmission sourced from Tremec and a large rubber footprint for lowering power, we suggest the timing will be fine. .
The new Z06 has chassis upgrades that are just as impressive as the new powertrain, joining the optional Z07 Handling Package available above that incorporates a few extra goodies. It starts with wheels that measure 20×10 inches at the front and large 21×13 inches at the rear. The rubber is a bespoke Michelin, with the base car running the Pilot Sport 4Ss and the track-biased Z07 handling package upgrading it to a Cup 2 Rs. To hold it in, the Z06’s bodywork is 30mm wider at the front axle, and 40mm wider at the rear. The base wheels are forged alloy, but the Package Z07 car also has a carbon fiber set option which reduces the weight by 18.6kg.
Brakes have also been upgraded, with 370/380mm steel discs front and rear on the standard car with six-piston Brembo calipers, and 398/391mm carbon ceramic discs on the Z07. We’ve noted the oddly larger rear disc on the steel-shod car – we’re waiting to come back from Chevrolet to clarify. All this very serious hardware is then mounted onto the C8’s mid-engined aluminum chassis, which was designed from the start to support the Z06’s high-spec components (and verified our suspicions about the C8’s terrible standard wheel offset by suggesting it share track-width with this Z06 variant) .
The Z06 will be available as a coupe and roadster, the latter of which requires no extra reinforcement to withstand losses in torsional rigidity. The suspension is all double-wishbone, with bespoke magnetic damper calibration depending on whether it’s a base Z06 or equipped with a Z07 handling package. The latter also features some carbon fiber aero complements that build on the base car’s downforce figures, including a stacked rear wing.
There are also various internal and external styling improvements, and a new driver’s telemetry system accessible via the infotainment display that goes into greater detail than the system currently used on the base C8 Stingray – but it’s the technical changes that appeal to us the most. .
The new Z06 is Chevrolet’s answer to the heart of the traditional European supercar. The models that underpin GT racing cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3, Lamborghini Huracán STO, McLaren 765LT and the now-defunct Ferrari 488 Pista all have new rivals that may be just as strong on the road as ever on American racing circuits when it comes to motorsports. .
For more than 60 years, the Corvette has been America’s middle finger to European supporters, and for much of its history has been an entertaining, capable, but ultimately subpar alternative. The new C8 Z06 may finally be the exception to the rule – we can’t wait to find out if Chevrolet has.
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