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.
This car is a lot more balanced than ZR1." 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. 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.
The car in the studio is outfitted with the Z07 performance package, which adds larger, lighter carbon-ceramic brakes and ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires to the equation. There is also "Stage 3 aero package." Wait, what? There are essentially three stages of aero performance available on the Z06. The first stage is standard equipment and includes a Z51 Stingray rear spoiler, a front splitter, and spats at the front wheel arches. Stage 2 is optional and includes a slightly more aggressive front splitter molded from carbon fiber, carbon rocker panel extensions, and a larger rear spoiler (also carbon fiber) with fixed Gurney flap aero tabs on the back for increased downforce. The Z07 package is the only way to get the Stage 3 kit. Order the package, and your car will arrive looking mostly like a Stage 2 car, but in the trunk you'll find a carbon front splitter with extra-large winglets and a clear center Gurney flap segment that bolts to the rear spoiler for even more downforce. That center piece is clear to improve rear visibility—and it's adjustable up and down, with changes of just a quarter-inch said to have been noticeable to test drivers.
Apparently, engineers have made the car's aluminum superstructure so rigid that even with the carbon-fiber roof removed, the C7 Z06 is 20 percent stiffer than its predecessor. It's 60 percent stiffer than the old car with the roof in place. The frame is now built in-house at Corvette's Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant and will be virtually identical to that in the C7.R. Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers are standard and driver-adjustable, as in the Stingray, and the electronic limited-slip differential is also included, with three calibration modes. Though the interior design isn't yet finalized, a flat-bottom steering wheel, upscale and unique materials, and a choice of GT or highly bolstered Competition Sport seats (a la Stingray) will be available. The steering remains essentially the same system as used in the Stingray, but with a minor "recalibration." It's safe to say that when the C7 Z06 arrives in showrooms in late 2014, it'll be vying for the title of quickest production Corvette to date. I can't wait to find out.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
BASE PRICE : $85,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatchback
ENGINE : 6.2L/635-hp (est)/645-lb-ft (est) supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSIONS : 7-speed manual; 8-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT: 3450 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE: 106.7 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 176.9 x 75.9 x 45.3 in
0-60 MPH 3.4-3.6 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON:15/25 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY:225 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.06 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE IN U.S. Fall 2014