2023 10 Best Engines and Propulsion Systems

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 V-8: Dinosaur, Fully Evolved

The Z06 engine is jam-packed with engineering innovation and technology, and no matter what mode you drive in, the Corvette is a blast.

David Zoia, Senior Director-Content

October 9, 2023

3 Min Read
2023 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems Winner Chevrolet Corvette Z06

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.

10 BE Corvette Z06.jpg

10 BE Corvette Z06

Corvette Z06’s V-8 the most highly evolved of the species yet.

About the Author(s)

David Zoia

Senior Director-Content, WardsAuto

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