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Come On GM, Pony Up

Come On GM, Pony Up

OK, hats off to General Motors for coming big with an outrageous 650 hp and 650 lb.-ft. (881 Nm) of torque in the ’15 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which goes on sale this fall.

After the high-performance coupe’s unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in January, speculators pegged the car’s all-new LT4 supercharged 6.2L small-block pushrod V-8 at 625 hp and 635 lb.-ft. (861 Nm) of twist.

Accompanying GM’s recent announcement of the Z06’s official power and torque ratings was a 1-page grid of competitors under the headline, “The LT4 Small-Block SC V-8 Is One Of The Most Powerful Production Engines Available In The U.S.”

It’s true that six exotics leave the Z06 in their wake, including the Ferrari LaFerrari hybrid (963 hp), McLaren P1 hybrid (890 hp), Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid (887 hp), Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (730 hp), Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 (700 hp) and the Ferrari FF (651 hp).

But the Z06 tops the McLaren 650S (641 hp), SRT Viper (640 hp) and Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 (610 hp).

However, the gaping hole in this high-octane grid is the absence of the Ford Shelby GT500, whose smaller 5.8L supercharged V-8 surpasses the Z06 with 662 hp (but less torque). The GT500 was available as a ’13 and ’14 model, but will not be in ’15.

Conveniently covering the Z06’s, um, squared-off rear end, GM’s PR team says it merely wanted to list all the car’s model-year ’15 rivals.

That is accurate, but it’s also disingenuous, considering there could be a GT500 or two or three available on dealer lots somewhere in the U.S. when the Z06 goes on sale. If so, then they would be “available” as stipulated by GM’s assembled pack of over-achievers, regardless of model-year designation.

Here’s something else to ponder: Ford managed to set the base price for the GT500 at $54,200, which made it eligible for the 2013 Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition. It won.

Not only that, Ford billed the 5.8L engine as the world’s most powerful production V-8, and it eluded gas-guzzler taxes, too.

Will the Z06 suffer a gas-guzzler tax? Too early to say, but the ’12 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, with its storming 6.2L supercharged V-8, shouldered a $1,300 tariff and it was more expensive than the GT500, plus it made less power, with more displacement. It didn’t make our 2013 10 Best Engines list.

We’ve jacked up the base price cap for eligible vehicles to $60,000, and we’ll decide soon whether to raise it any further for the 2015 competition.

But given the LT4’s titanium intake valves, new 1.7L supercharger, forged aluminum pistons, stainless-steel exhaust manifolds, standard dry-sump oiling system and aluminum balancer – not to mention the car’s aluminum space frame, copious amounts of carbon fiber and general track readiness – it seems doubtful the Z06 will meet our pricing criteria.

Awful shame.

I guess what bugs me, even if it is an understandable marketing ploy, is that GM couldn’t bear to include the GT500 on a grid of exotic super cars more powerful than the Z06.

Is it that difficult to tip a hat to the competition? Especially when the GT500 makes less torque? Apparently so.

We’re not here to quibble with the output but instead to call attention to the gamesmanship between two automakers – namely GM and Ford – who can’t stand second place.

So don’t be surprised if GM magically finds more crank in the LT4 at about the time Ford releases its high-output pony, perhaps a next-generation GT500, from the barn.

And count on Ford to be ready to reciprocate.

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