The new 650bhp Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a classic case of giving the customer what they want.
As well as being the most powerful model in the iconic American sports car's long history, it is also a direct reflection of existing Z06 customers' demands for more variations, according to Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter.
In addition to the Z06 hard-top, with its removable roof panel, there is now a convertible version. Both hard-top and soft-top can also be fitted with either a manual an automatic transmission, a first for the Z06.
Save for the pushrods and the dry-sump lubrication, this supercharged 6.2-litre LT4 Chevy small-block is filled with modern technology. It starts in similar form to the standard Stingray LT1 V8, with an aluminium block and cylinder heads, but adds forged connecting rods and pistons, and those pistons are re-engineered for this engine's 10:1 compression ratio.
Direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation are part of the package, and the engine's pushrod design allows for the intercooled supercharger to be placed in the valley between the cylinder heads. In all, the supercharger adds just an inch to the engine’s overall height, maintaining the Corvette’s exceptionally low bonnet line.
While the previous-generation Corvette ZR1 was also supercharged, this new Z06's supercharger is entirely new. It spins faster (20,000rpm, compared with 15,000rpm in the ZR1) and has smaller screws and improved airflow management.
At a reasonable 1600kg, the Z06’s acceleration permitted by its 650bhp fully shoves you into your seat with uncompromising force. Starting in first gear, you’re thrust against the seatback and don’t get any relief until the middle of fourth, and by that time you’re doing well over 120mph.
Transmission options are the familiar seven-speed manual, with a Z06-specific lightweight clutch and flywheel assembly, or an all-new eight-speed automatic.
Some may say the only type of automated transmission suited to performance cars is a dual-clutch unit, but Chevrolet has raised the bar for the torque converter transmission. With full-throttle shifts a tick quicker than a Porsche 911's PDK (0.08sec, according to Corvette engineers), the auto is still a smooth-shifting slushbox when you're commuting in traffic.