Some may purport the technology to be archaic, but the end result is anything but.
Often, car bookings at DoubleClutch.ca Magazine happen a few months in advance. When we originally booked the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, we were looking forward to astronomical amounts of torque out of what we knew to be of the most visceral rides out there. A couple years back, we reviewed the Grand Sport, which came with just about everything except the big supercharged power of the Z06. Sometime between General Motors booking us into this seventh-generation “C7” Z06 and the present day when you’re reading this, Chevrolet decided to drop the C8 on us with great fanfare.
The huge game changer this time? A mid-engine layout promising even more performance without changing the price too much at all. Even so, we still see the C7 is still one of the best bangs for the buck out there for sheer capability. Although we can’t wait for the C8, there can’t be any harm in taking one last look at the C7 before it rides off into the sunset.
While a regular Corvette Stingray starts off at just over $65,000, the high-strung Z06 has a base price of $93,795. Big fire-breathing engine aside, standard equipment in this guise includes magnetic ride suspension, six piston front and four piston rear brake calipers, power tilt and telescoping steering column, and carbon fibre hood. The $9,865 3LZ trim adds, among other things, a performance data recorder (think built-in GoPro and then some) heated and ventilated seats with power adjustment and driver’s memory, 10-speaker Bose audio, navigation, sueded microfiber wrapped interior trim, and Nappa leather seating surfaces.
Specific options on the test car included $1,495 extra for the awesomely bright Corvette Racing Yellow Tintcoat paint, a $4,595 Visible Carbon Fibre Ground Effects Package (consisting of a carbon fibre front splitter, rockers, and a more aggressive rear spoiler), a $3,445 Carbon Flash-painted Ground Effects Package, $2,295 Competition Sport Bucket Seats, and $1,990 for an eight-speed automatic transmission. Add a few more appearance odds and ends here and there, and the as-tested bottom lane came out to $122,300.
The main conversation piece that makes the Corvette Z06 what it is lies under the forward-opening hood. A 6.2-litre “LT4” pushrod V8 is cut from a similar cloth as many General Motors V8 engines from the last few decades, but is further worked over with a supercharger. A badge on the front fenders states the obvious: peak output is 650 horsepower at 6,400RPM, and 650 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600RPM. Its more traditional cam-in-block, overhead valve design makes for a very compact installation, and many engines with much lower displacement end up being much greater packaging challenges.
Some may purport the technology to be archaic, but the end result is anything but. Upon start-up, the exhaust lets out a loud bark that lets anybody nearby know that the Z06 means business. Even though it speaks loudly, the V8 is still a smooth operator that is reasonably refined when not giving it the beans. Coaxing the beast with the accelerator, though, means raw, unadulterated power that never fails to make drivers smile, while simultaneously making passengers soil themselves. GM says that the 0-96km/h sprint happens in 2.95 seconds (with the automatic and Z07 package not equipped on our test car), and we believe every bit of that. There are many supercars out there that cost many times more than the as-tested price of the Z06, and yet don’t approach the out-of-this-world experience of the LT4.
The Corvette Z06 is available with two transmission options: a seven-speed manual, or in the case of the car on test, an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Driving die-hards will likely want to spring for the row-your-own option, but the absolute best performance on paper comes with the less engaging automatic. Whether using the paddle shifters or full automatic mode, upshifts and downshifts are lighting quick yet impeccably smooth when hustling. When taking it easy, however, paddle shifter input can be delayed, and it’s best to use full automatic for most street driving. Considering it’s been around since 2014 (2015 for Z06), C8’s dual clutch transmission should correct these issues.
Fuel economy in a sports or super car is usually a secondary concern, but it’s an important metric to note nonetheless. The C7 Corvette Z06 is rated for 17.2L/100KM in the city, and 10.1L/100KM on the highway. The LT4 V8 features active fuel management, which can shut off four of the eight cylinders in light load conditions in order to save fuel. Taking advantage of this during highway cruising often meant that it was possible to beat the rated highway economy. Observed consumption split the two extremes at 13.9L/100KM in mixed driving with plenty of heavy throttle and supercharger use. As expected, premium fuel is required.
Driving the 2019 Corvette Z06 around returns a huge mix of emotions. With magnetic ride suspension, ride quality is very firm but not particular punishing, which meant that cruising and bruising around the streets of Toronto was an unexpectedly reasonable proposition. Handling, turn-in, and steering response, however, are not negatively affected, and the Z06 has grip for days. Though it’s good in the corners, the P285/30ZR19 and P335/25ZR20 front and rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires struggle to keep traction at wide open throttle, and the outfitting the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 steamrollers would be a good idea.
Braking performance out of the steel-rotored brakes is nothing short of fantastic, and repeated hard stops are no sweat for the six piston front and four piston rear calipers wrapped around giant rotors. The exhaust on the Z06 is variable, and while it’s quiet during sedate cruising, it becomes ear-piercingly loud when called upon. With the carbon fibre targa top stowed in the trunk, the volume and reverberation through tunnels is enough to make even the most rigid people giggle with glee.
Inside, the Corvette Z06 is much improved over the Corvettes from recent memory. That is, GM didn’t simply slap in a Cruze-spec dashboard and switchgear, but rather put in a little more effort on making things more premium feeling. The optional suede is nice to touch and the carbon fibre trim is great to look at, and while it may not fully compete with the nicer interiors from Japan or Europe, the cost-to-performance ratio makes it fully justifiable. The optional sportier bucket seats do a good job of holding occupants in place under hard cornering, and for more average proportioned people, it didn’t seem to be too uncomfortable for longer road trips.
As the seventh generation Corvette winds down, it’s crazy to think that the balls-to-the-wall Z06 has been out for five model years. Competitors such as the Porsche 911 or Nissan GT-R cost a whole lot more, yet don’t necessarily do better than the performance of the flagship Chevy. The super sweet supercharged 6.2-litre V8 and fantastic suspension control are still industry bests, and the styling combined with the Corvette Racing Yellow Tintcoat paint turned more heads than can be counted during its week of testing. Car people and non-car people alike have always had great appreciation for the Corvette since its introduction in the 1950s, and if the C7 is any indicator, the upcoming 2020 C8 Corvette is slated to elevate things to a level that’s unheard of. Let the excitement build!