GM Unleashes ’15 Chevy Corvette Z06

General Motors North America President Mark Reuss says the performance, technology and design of the new Z06 rivals most exotic supercars without exotic supercar fuel consumption.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

January 13, 2014

4 Min Read
rsquo15 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 boasts 625hp supercharged V8 engine
’15 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 boasts 625-hp, supercharged V-8 engine.

DETROIT – General Motors pulls the cover off the hotly anticipated ’15 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, calling the supercharged 625-hp sports car the most track-capable automobile ever from the nameplate.

“The new Z06 delivers levels of performance, technology and design that rival the most exotic supercars in the world,” says Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America.

“And the Z06 leverages the engineering expertise of GM, offering the choice of two world-class transmissions, supercar performance without supercar fuel consumption and technologies that make it easier to fully enjoy the incredible experience of driving it,” he says in a statement ahead of the unveiling today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The fourth Z06 in seven generations of Corvettes will come to market early next year as the first in the history of the variant to feature forced induction. It also ushers to market a new 8-speed automatic transmission from GM, as well as unprecedented levels of aerodynamics, a strengthened aluminum frame and an available Performance Data Recorder previously announced by the automaker.

But the heart of the new Z06 is its LT4 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine. On top of the 625 hp, it delivers 635 lb.-ft. (861 Nm) of rubber-burning torque. Those specifications nudge the Z06 past the ’13 ZR1 as the highest-output Chevrolet.

The 1.7L Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger is an addition Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter says was necessary to make the targeted power numbers.

The previous Z06 used a naturally aspirated 7.0L V-8 engine for 505 hp and 470 lb.-ft. (637 Nm) of torque.

“We just couldn’t get the bump in power that we wanted without the supercharger and still meet our fuel economy goals,” Juechter tells WardsAuto during a sneak peek of the Z06 in Palm Springs, CA, last month.

GM will release fuel economy estimates for the Z06 closer to the start of production.

The Z06 engine uses the same small-block architecture GM redesigned last year, which in its fifth generation employs fuel-saving technologies such as cylinder deactivation that shuts down four cylinders when they are not needed.

The Z06 also receives an automatic transmission for the first time. The 8-speed gearbox will come with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control of shifts, and Juechter says it will change gears more quickly than the dual-clutch transmission of the Porsche 911. He says a dual-clutch transmission, which many of today’s high-performance cars utilize, was out of the question for the Z06.

“A dual-clutch transmission would never handle this sort of torque,” he says.

The new 8-speed weighs 8 lbs. (3.5 kg) less than the outgoing 6-speed GM would employ on the Corvette.

A 7-speed manual transmission with the rev-matching technology that bowed on the ’14 Corvette Stingray also will be available.

Corvette enthusiasts will find the Z06 the most aerodynamic car to carry the 61-year-old nameplate. In fact, GM will offer three different levels of downforce for the Z06, starting with a standard package featuring a front splitter, spats around the front wheel openings, a carbon-fiber hood with a large vent and the rear-spoiler treatment from the Corvette Stingray’s Z51 Performance Package.

A second level of available treatments adds a carbon-fiber front splitter with aviation-style winglets, carbon-fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed wickerbill – a small, vertical tab at the edge of the spoiler to greatly increase downforce.

An available Z07 package throws larger winglets on the front splitter and boasts an adjustable, see-through center section on the rear spoiler for track use to give the Z06 the most aerodynamic downforce of any production car the automaker has tested.

Juechter says third-party certification confirms the Z06 as one of the most aerodynamic production cars available today.

To handle the extreme performance, the Z06 rides on specially developed Michelin tires, which are 1.5 ins. (38 mm) wider in the front and 2.0 ins. (51 mm) wider at the rear than those skinned to the Stingray. To accommodate that bigger tire, the Z06 fenders bulge out 2.2 ins. (56 mm) in the front and 3.15 in. (80 mm) at the rear.

Z06 models with the standard aerodynamics package use Pilot Sport tires, while those outfitted with the Z07 treatment receive Sport Cup rubber.

Like the Stingray, the Z06 will include a number of driver-selectable performance modes, tailoring the car’s traction and power delivery to a particular situation, such as touring or track.

A stiffer aluminum frame allows GM to add a removable, carbon-fiber roof panel for the first time. With the panel removed, GM boasts, the Z06 is 20% stiffer than the previous model with a fixed roof.

GM plans to announce pricing sometime closer to the start of production, but Juechter hints it will be in the neighborhood of the $77,000 buyers pay for a ’13 Z06.

“If you can afford a current Z06, you’ll be able to afford a new one,” he says.

GM also today unveils the Corvette C7.R race car. The new race car, wearing an updated “Jake” flaming-skull mascot emblem, will make its competition debut Jan. 25-26 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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