Z06 is King for today

January 10, 2008
BY JEFF TAYLOR Special to Pioneer Press

For 2008, Chevrolet has released its fastest, most powerful and most technologically advanced production model in Corvette’s history. But they’re not through … oh, not by a long shot.

Chevrolet released some details on the long awaited return of the ZR1. The 2009 ZR1 will make its public debut at the North American International Auto Show next month and should be on display here, at the 100th Chicago Auto Show held Feb. 8 to 17. The supercharged ZR1 Corvette is expected to offer in the neighborhood of 650 horsepower and will most likely set you back $100-large. But that’s another car and another time-more details in the next couple weeks when they are released during the NAIAS.

Here today

For now, the baddest ‘Vette you can buy costs $23,500 less (with options), and gallops with 505 horses under the hood. While $76,545 seems pricey for a Corvette, consider that the Cadillac XLR-V (that shares the Corvette platform) has 440 supercharged horses and costs $100-large.

After spending a very enjoyable week with this car, I’ve reaffirmed that it is one of the best performance values on the market. With less bite than the Viper, the Z06 is truly an everyday car.

Race craft

The Z06 delivers race-bred technology to the street via a big 427-cubic-inch engine sporting blood red valve covers. The LS7 shares the same basic Gen IV V-8 architecture as the Corvette’s 6.0-liter LS2, but it uses a different cylinder block casting with pressed-in steel cylinder liners to accommodate the engine’s larger diameter, 4.125-inch (104.8-mm) cylinder bores. Internally, the LS7’s reciprocating components make use of racing-derived lightweight technology, including titanium connecting rods and intake valves, to help boost horsepower and rpm capability.

The LS7 7.0-liter engine only has to push around 3,132-pounds -- sans driver. So a skilled driver could coax a Z06 to a sub-3.7-second 0-to-60-mph time in first gear. And the same skilled driver could also blast through a quarter-mile in, oh, say 11.7 seconds at 125 mph. Chevy also indicates that their drivers reached a top speed of 198 mph.

Befitting its race heritage, the test car came with a six-speed manual transmission that was strengthened to handle the LS7’s increased torque load. The six-speed also helps the Z06 reach EPA fuel economy numbers of 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. I did not fare so well -- must have been wearing my heavy shoes that week. Also be advised that the Z06 requires premium fuel.

Looks that cook

Sure the Z06 looks similar to a standard Corvette, but the subtle changes that Chevy has added really give this car a custom performance look. The Z06 has an unmistakable and aggressive appearance, with design cues like a wider front fascia with a splitter along the bottom and aero wheel opening extensions along the sides. I liked the cold air scoop in front of the hood that integrates an air inlet system for the engine.

A large air extractor is located behind the front wheels and out back are wider rear fenders with flares to cover the steamroller p325/30ZR19 rear tires. A taller rear spoiler stands up just enough along with the Z06 badging and the blood red brake calipers showing through the alloy rims are killer.

Grocery getter

The Z06 can run with European exotics, the Dodge Viper and even the Ford GT, but it trumps most of those cars by the mere fact that you can drive this car all day in bumper-to-bumper traffic, to the big box stores, and yes to get groceries. To that end, comfort and convenience are held to a very high standard. High-Intensity Discharge lighting, fog lamps, leather seating, dual-zone air conditioning, cabin air filtration and head-up display (HUD) with track mode and g-meter are standard.

The power heated seats featured two-tone leather surfaces, bolsters and a great view of the road. From getting in/out, comfort and quality to cargo space, this is an American exotic that you can live with everyday.

Suspension and brakes

The driveability of the Z06 stems from its short-long arm suspension and transverse leaf spring design shared with other Corvette models. The Z06 one-ups standard Corvettes with all-new wheels, tires, brakes, as well as its own rear spring and roll stabilizer.

The firmer suspension works well with the large 18- and 19-inch wheels and tires– the largest wheel-and-tire combination ever offered on a Corvette. While the everyday ride might be a bit stiff for some, you’re going to drive this car only in good weather anyway. Chevy does indicate that, Z06 can achieve lateral acceleration of more than 1g under the right conditions and on the right surface. Complementing the suspension system and large rolling stock is an equally capable four-wheel disc brake system, consisting of 14-inch (355 mm) vented and cross-drilled front rotors and 13.4-inch (340 mm) vented and cross-drilled rear rotors. A Delphi four-channel ABS system is standard, as is a very competent active handling system -- complete with a Competitive Driving mode. So, after nearly 55 years as America’s sports car the Corvette maintains its ranking as one of the world’s best performance sports cars and is poised for an even more powerful future.