C7 Z06 BUILD AND DESIGN
GM needed to look at a new angle for the C7 in order to attract a larger demographic. They had to reinvent the Corvette. That typical persona of Vette owners being 50 and above (I am 50 by the way) needed to be broken and, in doing so, GM needed to break some very traditional interior and exterior ideas, the rear round taillights being the most obvious.
Following the newer design of their C7.R Race Car, the Z06 is built on a rigid aluminum frame that allows for the carbon fiber roof to be removable, the hood also composed of CF. Wider than the C7 by 2.2” in front and 3.15” in back, the Z06 comes standard with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires front and rear. The tires shown in this image are that of the Z07 package but the photo does a great job of displaying the aluminum frame:
Although a dry sump oil system and titanium intake valves and connecting rods are standard, GM also offers an upgraded Z07 ‘closer to the track’ version that includes Brembo ceramic brakes, upgraded top of the line Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and a recalibrated suspension Also, the available Z07 Stage 3 Performance Package can increase the car’s downforce by as much as 500lbs on the track. This photo displays the rear spoiler with center adjustable wickerbill, as one might see in the Z07 package:
A word to the wise regarding the tires; they are not winter tires and will crack if used in temperatures below 20°F (-7°C). After several Z06 owners received cars with cracked tires after the unexpected winter conditions in Bowling Green, both GM and Michelin issued bulletins advising that these are summer tires and not intended for lower temperatures. Aside from that, the stock Michelin’s stick like glue to the road when you are driving and can leave one just a bit nervous when caught in heavy rainfall. There is also a very real concern with tire supply, some already on extensive waiting lists for replacements after puncturing a tire. Continental seems to be the only logical replacement and many owners have already taken advantage, noting the Conti’s to be much quieter at higher speeds.
ENGINE, TRANSMISSION AND PTM
The heart and soul of the Corvette Z06 is its new supercharged 6.2 liter LT4 V-8 engine that is capable of 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, and just as capable of economical driving when it shuts down to 4 cylinders without the drivers knowledge.
The LT4 contains a custom Eaton 1.7 liter supercharger which had to be reduced by 3 inches in height in order to keep the hood low for visibility in order to meet regulations for vehicles sold in Europe. In real-time use, a touch of the gas pedal is enough to leave many in shock, this being contrary to its feel when the engine is reduced to four cylinders and the pedal has quite a bit more play.
When examining mileage with the A8, very little difference is seen between four and eight-cylinder use. EPA ratings are 13 mpg city and 21 mpg highway with an average of 16 mpg. We are finding that, even with average city travel, we are above 20 mpg, this getting even better when we decide to shut the air conditioning off.
This falls in line with the Z06’s performance traction management (PTM) System where a selector on the center console can toggle between Weather, Economy, Touring, Sport and Track Modes, Track Mode also including another 5 modes specifically for track related driving (Wet, Dry, Sport 1, Sport 2 and Race).
We will cover these in much more detail in a later article, but suffice it to say the car’s engine, steering and suspension are fine tuned for each, a great example being that the steering in Touring Mode is much looser than that of Sport or Track mode. On a final note, please ensure there are no young children behind the Z06 when you decide to flip it into Sport or Track Mode; it roars like a race car should and will wake the neighborhood should you choose to do so.
The Z06 is also available in a brand new 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, as well as a seven-speed manual. The A8 transmission is ‘self-learning’ and sets its transmission control unit (TCU) according to driver habits within the first few hundred miles of use. In my experience, the automatic gear changes are as smooth as butter but some have experienced rough gear changes. There is a TCU re-flash available through GM for these few cases. One thing I particularly like about the A8 when accelerating rapidly is that it holds gears just a second or two longer for that added acceleration. Some have written forums concerned as it is not a natural feeling if you accelerate and then let off the gas rapidly; it almost feels as if it is stuck for a second. One thing is for certain; there isn’t a car on the road that feels quite the same when accelerating.