Move over, Great Wall of China, and make some room in the pantheon of extraordinary engineering achievements for the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 engine.
Yes, General Motors’ 5.5L dual-overhead-cam V-8, one of the 2023 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems winners, just might be that good.
Start with what’s on paper. Output in the LT6 small-block peaks at 670 hp at 8,400 rpm – a whopping 122 hp per liter – and 460 lb.-ft (624 Nm) of torque at 6,300 rpm. And that’s without the aid of a turbocharger or supercharger, making the V-8 the most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever made available in a production car.
To get numbers like that, there’s a long list of advanced engineering involved including a lightweight, low-inertia flat-plane, forged-steel crankshaft to maximize volumetric efficiency; a racing-inspired 7-stage dry sump system; and an all-new precision sand-cast aluminum block and lower crankcase.
Add to that forged titanium connecting rods; forged aluminum pistons with a racing pedigree; titanium intake valves and sodium-filled steel exhaust valves; and a dual independent hydraulic cam-phasing system that maximizes torque across the rev range.
All that technology is put together by hand at GM’s Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, KY, with each engine sporting a plaque on its intake bearing the assembler’s signature.
But the 10 Best list isn’t only about what’s on paper; it’s about what happens when you get behind the wheel, press the start button and put the car in gear. And it’s here where the Z06 proves its mettle.
The V-8 spins up in a flash to its 8,600-rpm red line, and no matter what mode you drive in, touring or sport, the Corvette is a blast.
“Rip-roaring fast,” sums up one judge. Notes another, “There aren’t many engines that can be the main selling point for a $168,000 car, but this engine does it.”
GM put a lot of effort into crafting the engine note, delivered through the car’s quad port, center-mounted exhaust – and it shows. Some might say it’s a tad loud at startup, but that’s as it should be. “Just in case you missed it, the Z06 lets you know it’s here,” says one judge. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
The track-bred Z06’s sticker price and 15 mpg (15.7 L/100 km) combined fuel-economy rating certainly limit availability to a well-heeled few. But the 10 Best list is all about the exceptional, and the GM V-8 is clearly that. It delivers a level of performance – in a highly drivable package – unmatched at more than twice the price.
Some might view the Z06 V-8 as an anachronism in this age of electrification. But to paraphrase one tester, if V-8s are becoming extinct, then this is the T-Rex of ICE engines – in other words, it’s the most highly evolved of the species yet.
So, hold a spot in the museum. But in the meantime, drive one if you can.
The 2023 winners will be honored during the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems award ceremony Oct. 18 on day two of AutoTech: Electrification at the Fort Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, MI. Learn more about the event and book your ticket by visiting https://bit.ly/3REayqc
All credentialed media are welcome and qualify for free admittance to both the awards ceremony and AutoTech: Electrification Oct. 17-18.
Corvette Z06’s V-8 the most highly evolved of the species yet.