What if I told you that later this year someone will launch a new supercar without the help of electricity. No hybrid help. No turbo either. And that, in these twilight days of internal combustion, the engine will be the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8 in the world. Once.
You will be amazed, right? Confused maybe. Especially after you’ve just read that Ferrari’s bread and butter supercar can be driven purely by electricity. You’d wonder which company had the guts to buck the trend, to swim against the tide of the supercar establishment, which country would give the fire sales to allow this machine to escape the captivity of the design studios.
But you already know the answer, because you recognize a Corvette when you see one. And, as hard as it may seem, later this year you should be able to buy it in the UK. With the steering wheel on the right side and 670bhp at 8,600rpm, titanium intake valves, non-forced induction V8 firepower and fury. Lamborghini, we can only assume, will be watching closely as he works on the Huracán’s next move.
Thinking of those power figures sounds, well, wrong? This is no ordinary 495bhp Corvette C8. This is the Z06. If the Corvette is the American Porsche 911, this is the GT3. And in American sports car folklore there is no greater problem.
1. HAVE AN ENGINE TO END ALL ENGINES…
I stand on top of a bleached high-rise building in Los Angeles, squinting against the blinding light. The roar of the T-rex under my feet signaled the arrival of a pair of Corvettes: the Z06, and the Z06 with the Z07 package. Think GT3 and GT3 RS. The snaps and growls diminished over the concrete echo chamber, but not by much. This is a brutal and furious car. The eighth-generation Corvette was the first to put the engine behind the driver, screwing up nearly 70 years of horse history ahead. The big intake behind the door leaves you no doubt about that. It’s up to you what you think about the styling. I feel clumsy, a bit ‘My First Supercar’, but
I guess they can be forgiven for that because, yes, they are. As a result it lacks the fluid wings of a McLaren, the controlled curves of a Porsche or the historical riffs and references of Ferrari.
But this is the story of what lies beneath. Because like the GT3, the Z06 bike has nothing in common with the entry model. It uses the small block of the famous 6.2-liter V8, but hiding here is an entirely new engine, the LT6. It’s a 5.5 liter dry sump, flat crank V8 taken from the C8R GTLM race car. For both 670bhp and 459lb ft, it sprints from 0–60mph in 2.7 seconds. Although that includes a one-leg roll-out.
More obvious is the power-to-weight ratio: 429bhp/ton here playing the 360 on the latest 500bhp GT3. Maximum torque comes in at 6,300rpm so it will require some exploits. Driving ensues, unfortunately. Revving, however, could happen now.
2. …AND BOTH VERY ITALY
There’s a distinctly Ferrari tone to the way it shoots. Aim and fast, no blub-blub-blub here. Pull the D switch on the console to put it in gear, press M for manual, and drag and hold both paddles: that’s a cheat code that lets you spin a V8 to the moon and back. The Ferrari analogy applies. It’s not as loud and histrionic as the 458, nor does it feel like it’s acting. It sounds loud and unfiltered, has the purity of a race car and the speed of response, revs up and back off in an instant. Still want more engagement? If you like, you can go to the Bowling Green factory, join a team of 10 or 12 people and help build your own machine.
3. SUSPENSION, WHEELS AND BRAKES HAVE… BEEN DETERMINED
Obviously the suspension has been upgraded, though not to the same extent as the V8. The Z06 is 90mm wider overall – that’s a big change, mainly due to the fact that to increase lateral grip, the Corvette has opted to adapt the SW19’s grass-rolling tires. The rear is 345 wide, 40mm up from the standard and requires completely new body panels to cover it. Bigger wheels and brakes are fitted, the usually optional e-diff and magnetorheological dampers are standard here, springs are stiffer and there’s a new transaxle with a shorter final drive for better sprints.
4. AVAILABLE IN TWO FLAVORS
US likes numbers: g-force, slalom test, 0–60 and others. It has all the raw materials needed to get its SAT. But if you want to double that, you’ll have to shell out a bit more (perhaps around $10,000) for the Z07 plan. This brings the new rear wing doubling downforce at max 186mph to 333kg. But downforce at top speed is just a statistic – it’s not that you want downforce, you want it at 90-130mph, and because of the way downforce (square root of something or other) works 333kg on average translates to ‘not so much’ at useful speeds. A bit of TG science for you there.
Not a downforce car. But your money also buys you 15 percent stiffer suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and Michelin Cup 2R rubber. Even more grips were tearing the face. And the option to spend even more on carbon rims you see here, saving 18kg. It might be worth it, despite the fact that the Z06 isn’t really focused on saving weight. At 1,560kg, it is 150kg heavier than the GT3 and retains many of the useful attributes of a standard car. The foremost among them is the lift-out roof panel. You can have the Z06 as an electric-covered convertible (the orange Z07 car you see pictured here) but as standard all Corvettes give you access to the sun. The panel stores in the trunk at the back of the V8, but it doesn’t overwhelm your trunk as there’s also a frunk in the front.
5. NOT HORRIBLE INTERIOR
It’s good inside. God knows what anyone who sees this red on red is thinking. But the layout is great, the quality is much better than I can guarantee that you think now. Don’t stick in the middle of your mind. The Z06 may stick to its free-breathing bike, but the only option is an eight-speed twin clutch.
Does that excite you? That’s the key question. A bit against my better judgment. I’ve always wanted to embrace new technology, but more technology – unless you’re a Ferrari, based on the evidence from the 296 GTB – means more complexity and greater distance between driver and thrill. Z06 promises ease of access.
Will it find an audience outside America? Remember what Ford did with the Mustang? It brought it here back in 2016 and for a time it was the best-selling sports car in Europe, ahead of the Audi TT. Let’s hope it finds a viable global market. It’s somehow fitting that America, a country moving to the roar of the V8, produces something so incredible at sunset.