Sunday Driver: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Sunday, August 10, 2008
BOB KEHOE SPECIAL WRITER
The Oregonian

Basics: two-door, two-passenger, rear-wheel-drive, sports car

Price: $81,170, including options and destination charges

What's New: The fastest, most advanced production model in the Corvette's rich history continues in 2008 with minimal changes. Using technology derived from the Corvette C6-R race car, the Z06 offers an incredible amount of performance for a base price of just more than $71,000 -- far less than prices for comparable world-class sports cars.

Some of Z06's added standard features for 2008 are shared with other Corvette models, including OnStar with available turn-by-turn navigation, satellite radio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass. The upcoming 2009 Z06 will add a power hatch pull-down, larger capacity dry-sump oil system and a new wheel design.

Drivetrain: The Z06's 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 delivers 505 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs. of torque. In comparison, the standard Corvette's 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 produces 430 hp. The LS7 connects to a strengthened 6-speed manual gearbox that shifts quite easily and feels bullet-proof. Clutch effort is surprisingly lightweight.

According to Chevrolet, the Z06 achieves a 0-60-mph performance of 3.7 seconds in first gear, quarter-mile times of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph and a top speed of 198 mph. At extremely high speeds, the car remains quite stable and inspiring.

The EPA rates the car's mileage at 15 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Interior: The Z06 only comes in coupe form and does not have a removable roof panel. Designed to be a daily-driveable performance car, the Z06 offers a good deal of interior comfort and features that range from dual-zone air conditioning to a heads-up speedometer and tachometer digital display.

The seats feature two-tone leather surfaces with Z06-logo embroidery and contrasting stitching. The test car had an optional navigation and premium audio system.

Styling: In appearance, the Z06 differs from the standard Corvette coupe by incorporating specific aerodynamic and performance components. The front fascia features an air-splitter beneath its wide grille opening, as well as wheel-opening extensions for additional downforce. A cold air scoop on the hood is integrated with an air-inlet system for the engine.

Wider rear fenders accommodate the massive 19-inch aluminum wheels. The front wheel diameter is 18 inches. The rear end has a small spoiler and four large, stainless-steel exhaust outlets.

Ride and Handling: The Z06 uses the same short-long-arm suspension and traverse leaf springs found on the standard Corvette, but they are enhanced with the larger wheel/tire combination, racing-quality four-wheel disc brakes, and a Z06-specific rear spring and roll stabilizer. Both straight-line and cornering characteristics are exemplary and race-track-ready. In town or on the open highway, ride comfort is more than satisfactory.

Most Liked Features: The performance and poise is awesome and the driving experience is a thrill. Unlike some other super-high-performance cars, the Z06 is easy to drive in congested traffic.

Needs Improvement: The lower and upper seat cushions could use greater bolstering.

Rating (1 to 10): 10

Bob Kehoe is a Portland freelance writer. He can be reached at drive.two@verizon.net. For online archives of recent DriveTime reviews, go to www.oregonlive.com/info/drivetime.