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.
An auto-equipped Z06 is ultimately quicker around a given circuit, but the manual is decidedly more satisfying to drive. The gates are defined so that on-track misshifts are only for those with the least deft hands, and the heft of the shifter complements the rest of the controls.
One oddity in the manual car is the leftover shift paddles on the steering wheel. Perhaps intended for the automatic car and only retained to reduce tooling costs, their function with the manual is to engage the active rev-matching system, which is meant to save drivers from the footwork required for smooth heel-and-toe downshifts.
An electronically controlled limited-slip differential is standard on the Z06, and its hydraulically adjustable clutch splits power, from full open to fully engaged, in fractions of a second based on an algorithm using a range of inputs from systems throughout the car.
Further, the e-diff is tied into the other systems in the Z06 and varies its action based on the wide range of drive mode permutations. Under braking, for example, the differential is fully open, making the Corvette exceptionally stable while decelerating.
Brakes on the standard Z06 use two-piece rotors on both axles with six-piston front and four-piston aluminum calipers rear, while the optional Z07 package fits a carbon-ceramic system with massive rotors, incidentally shaving 10.4kg in total. Both systems are supplied by Brembo and are remarkably effective at deleting speed, particularly on track and especially on the technical and braking-biased Spring Mountain circuit in Nevada.
Available to the driver is a range of drive modes - perhaps one or two too many for a supercar like this Z06. From the dial on the console, the driver may select settings for Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track and then further drill down into Track mode for a subset of settings from wet to minimal driver assist.
Cosworth supplies Corvette Racing with the team’s data acquisition and telemetry systems and was tapped to develop the Performance Data Recorder for the road car. Beyond the thrill of a video recording of your laps, it also captures a basic set of data channels for off-track analysis.
The chassis is 20 percent more rigid than the previous hard-top version of the Z06 – with the carbonfibre roof panel removed. With the roof panel in place, Chevrolet says the chassis is 60 percent stiffer than the previous model. The aluminium frame is so robust that both the roadgoing Z06 and the C7.R Le Mans racer use the same basic component, which is produced in house in Bowling Green, Kentucky.