The Chevrolet Corvette has always been a race car for the rest of us. Today, America’s largest automaker introduced perhaps the purest expression of that idea it has ever built. The all-new 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 uses the same engine as Chevy’s racing team – but it’s more powerful in the civilian version. This engine would be against the rules of most of the races the Corvette Racing team competes in.
Since its 1953 introduction, the Corvette has been the dream car built by America’s largest automaker. But, for much of its life, Corvette engineers took a wildly different approach to building a fast car than the builders of some of the world’s fastest cars did.
For the 2020 model year, all that changed. Chevy brought the world a mid-engine Corvette Stingray. Something that looked like it belonged alongside McLarens and Lamborghinis, with its big engine sitting behind the driver. But it carried a price tag that in some cases was hundreds of thousands less.
Ferrari-style engine, half the price
The Z06 continues that theme. We don’t know the starting price of the Z06 yet. But past editions have run about $25,000 more than the base Corvette. That would put the 2023 Z06’s price a little below $90,000.
Yet, it carries an engine you’d expect to find in a car three times that price.
Chevy calls it “the highest-horsepower naturally-aspirated V8 in automotive history.” A 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V8, it’s a type of engine rarely built by American automakers. It doesn’t reach redline until an astonishing 8,600 rpm (those race versions are limited to 7,600). It produces 670 horsepower and sends power to the rear wheels through an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The combination, Chevy says, gives it a supercar 0-to-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds.
It produces a vastly different sound than any previous Corvette. With its high-revving scream, it sounds more like a Formula One car than the thunder-of-the-gods rumble of past Z06 models. Engineers designed the body to send the sound forward into the cabin to let the driver enjoy that banshee wail.
Standard 6-piston front/4-piston rear brakes help bring it to a stop. Available carbon-ceramic brakes should provide even quicker stops for an added fee.
The ’Vette already had exotic car looks, but Chevy has turned the dial to 11 for the Z06. New side air scoops behind the doors are reshaped and painted in contrasting colors. A new front splitter should help keep the front wheels squished to the track. A removable panel in the front fascia lets drivers increase downforce for track day.
Wider fenders, quarter panels, and fascias distinguish it from the standard Stingray.
A subtle rear lip spoiler is standard and comes with “removable track wickers” to let owners add rear downforce when they want it.
The Z06 comes standard with 20-inch front and 21-inch rear aluminum wheels.
The Z06 moniker has always meant a race-bred ’Vette. But an optional Z07 package is available. It adds a carbon fiber rear wing, lighter carbon fiber wheels, and carbon-ceramic brakes. The chassis and magnetic ride control are retuned for more track-focused handling. The Z07 rides on unique Michelin
Cup 2 R ZP tires.
Available hand-wrapped red leather cockpit
Inside, the Z06’s cabin closely resembles that of the standard Corvette. Buyers can distinguish it with available carbon fiber trimmed steering wheel, shift paddles, and cabin accents.
Or, they can decide to go all out with a new interior fully trimmed in Adrenaline Red leather.
Not about sales volume
Corvettes were rare in dealerships even before the microchip shortage that has left many vehicles in short supply this year. The Z06 will likely be an even rarer sighting.
But the race-bred Corvette is significant more for what it proves than for how many garages it finds its way into. General Motors
has shown that, when given no limits, its designers can build something every bit as fast and gorgeous as any European exotic car, and for less than half the price.
Done right, the new Corvette Z06 should help Chevy sell a lot of non-Corvette vehicles. This one looks to be done right.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.