Standing on the Chevrolet stand at the Detroit motor show for the reveal of the new Corvette Z06 brought me back to a pair of fantastic cars that I drove in 2013. I attended the press launch of the Porsche 911 GT3 in Germany in July and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S in California in October.
Both cars offer insane performance, wonderful engine notes, and are arguably the best driver’s cars introduced last year. Both the GT3 and V12 Vantage S also lack a feature that is quickly disappearing from the market, a manual gearbox. Ironically, it seems to be the Americans — who only buy around 7 per cent of new cars with a manual — are the ones who are trying to save the three-pedal gearbox.
Unlike the Aston and the Porsche, Corvette engineers fitted a 7-speed manual as standard in the Z06, with an auto on the options list. The beauty of this setup is the 625bhp-plus sports car is no longer just a track-focused, niche car for Chevrolet. The purists can buy the manual and fit the ‘Z07’ performance package, adding upgraded Super Sport Cup tyres, carbon-ceramic brakes, and an aero package.
Meanwhile, Corvette has a large number of older clients who have been buying the American sports car for ages. The optional automatic allows both that legacy customer and Porsche PDK-loving younger buyers to shop for the Z06. Obviously, we’ll see how GM’s new 8-speed torque-converter automatic ends up performing. Chevy is claiming upshifts that are quicker than PDK.