The ALL NEW 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is Coming soon to Huffines Chevrolet Lewisville!
It's wide and low, yellow and black, and absolutely menacing to look at, even if it doesn't have an engine under its hood. Or an interior, for that matter. The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 sitting here in a stark white Michigan photo studio is just a styling buck, a body with wheels and tires designed to give us the visual impression the Z06 will make when it hits Chevy showrooms in late 2014. Fortunately, Tadge Juechter, chief of Corvette development, and key players from the styling, aero, and powertrain groups are on their way to talk me through the things I can't see, along with the things I can. Before the big guns get here, I'm given a document -- a Z06 manifesto, of sorts -- to prime me on the basics. Some of the details I have to read twice. Supercharger? 625 horsepower? Optional eight-speed auto?? Before I finish scanning the second page, it's showtime.
"It's a Stingray on steroids," Juechter says matter-of-factly, trying to sum up the C7 Z06 in a nifty sentence. "We tried to bring a ZR1 level of performance down to the Z06, but this car is also a lot more balanced than ZR1." Indeed, Juechter hints that in early testing at GM's proving grounds, the Z06 turned in figures roughly on par with the Blue Devil. That's significant, but how is it done? "The new 6.2-liter LT4 engine is based on the Stingray's LT1 architecture with an emphasis on low-end torque," explains Jordan Lee, chief Chevy Small Block engineer. "There's still a lot of work to do, but it'll have 625 horsepower plus -- emphasis on the 'plus' -- and 635-lb-ft of torque." Guess that wasn't a typo after all. Lee goes on to explain that titanium intake valves, dry-sump oiling, direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing are all found here. So is an ultra-compact Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger with an integrated air-to-water intercooler, both located in the valley between the V-spaced cylinder heads, allowing the engine to sit just 1 inch taller than in the LT1. The intercooler is 2 percent more efficient than the LS9's, and low-end torque is significantly improved over the infamous ZR1. The hood of the Z06 is carbon fiber with larger vents and more clearance to accommodate the blower.
If the supercharger doesn't get to Z06 purists, the transmission might. Yes, a seven-speed manual (with auto rev-matching) is still offered, thank goodness, but for 2015, you'll be able to order an eight-speed (torque converter) automatic. And why not, says Bill Goodrich, assistant chief engineer on RWD automatics. "The eight-speed transmission is designed to give fuel economy without sacrificing performance," he says. I assume the all-new, in-house-designed paddle-shift automatic was benchmarked against the fantastic ZF eight-speed auto, but Goodrich corrects me. "We used Porsche's PDK for reference," he says. "Our upshift times under full throttle are actually slightly quicker than the Porsche's." Huh. That notion is still sinking in as I'm pulled away from my chair and positioned next to the yellow fiberglass and carbon-fiber sculpture across the room. There, Corvette design director Tom Peters tells me aesthetics didn't dictate the width of the new Z06. The tires did. Using the same size wheel package as the ZR1 (10 x 19s up front and 12 x 20s out back) mandates bodywork that's more than 2 inches wider in front, and more than 3 inches wider, rear, than the Stingray's. He also mentions that the C7 Z06 will serve as the basis for the upcoming C7.R race car, so virtually all the changes we're seeing are born out of function, not form. Then he points to the larger front fender vents, brake-cooling ducts on the front fascia, and the trick air blades over the rear fender scoops that funnel more air to the transmission and differential coolers. The mesh front grille, it's mentioned, moves more air to the intercooler than having no grille at all. I drool a little, and John Bednarchik, the Corvette team lead aerodynamicist, picks up the story.