LOS ANGELES: Chevrolet has unveiled its fastest-ever vehicle, 2015 Corvette Z06, with the price tag of $89,000.
The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has widely been presumed – before a single soul outside of the company has even driven it – to be one of the best machines GM has ever built. The model, having 650 hp engine, does 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
The dry-sump, 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 motor is sublime. Power is up 37 percent from the outgoing Z06, and the supercharger assembly is mounted within the valley between the cylinder heads, ensuring it keeps the car’s weight distribution as low as possible. That supercharger spins to 20,000 rpm – 25 percent faster than in the Corvette ZR1, thanks to smaller rotors. This also helps the torque ramp up more effectively at low revs.
Two gearboxes can transfer that torque to the rear wheels; a glorious 7-speed manual with rev-matching or a new 8-speed automatic. That auto is eight pounds lighter than the outgoing 6-speed, five percent more fuel efficient and, according to GM, eight-hundredths of a second faster than Porsche’s dual-clutch 911 Carrera.
On occasions, the automatic is indeed fantastic, shifting with an evocative snap that appears quicker than you can blink. However, by adding just a few degrees of steering lock, that snap disappears; Chevy engineers were concerned about it breaking the rear tires loose during cornering. The problem is that unless you are driving precisely in a straight line (which is less often than you might think on a racetrack) the gearbox feels sluggish and without emotion – that inconsistency between changes is its greatest downfall. Still, it’s comfortably the best automatic gearbox GM has ever made, but the manual remains the transmission of choice.
As I explode down the back straight at Road Atlanta, the speedometer rises quickly – 120, 130, 140, 150 mph. I turn right over a crest, heading downhill into a hard braking zone, now clocking 155 mph. I’m in 5th gear surpassing 5,000 rpm. I hit the optional carbon-ceramic brakes with all my might. The car doesn’t squirm. It doesn’t produce any noticeable pitch, or roll. It’s simply glued to the road.
It’s like a merry-go-round of data, and just thinking about it makes me dizzy. So, then, imagine the difficulty the engineers faced in ensuring all these assets blend together seamlessly, and more to the point, not detract from that analog demeanor a Corvette is famous for. When approaching the true limit of the car, I discovered that it’s not quite there yet.
You can feel that, during a given corner, the balance is constantly shifting. It varies along with the diff, and in the vaguest of ways, you can sense it happening. It’s never quite the same every lap. And it’s this changing balance that adds discomfort to the driving experience. You lose that unflappable confidence you had when pedaling at 90 percent.
By the time the car goes on sale next spring. But why, you ask, would a Corvette need all this tech in the first place? Isn’t that what makes a ‘Vette special – it refuses to reform with the rest of industry; like the Dodge Viper, remaining wonderfully raw and communicative? No auto-only, or V-6 turbo compromise. It’s a proper Kentucky-built super car, powered by a V-8 – the way it should be.
It’s basically Chuck Norris. Only better looking.