An early look at the C7’s Z06—historic RPO codes be damned.
What It Is: A heavily camouflaged seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette that we believe to be the next generation of Z06 high-performance models, which will be called Z07. The Corvette has used such an RPO three times in the past—first as an off-road suspension and brake package from 1973–1975; then in 1991–1995 to designate an adjustable-suspension package; and again from 2011–2013 as a package that included magnetic selective ride control, stickier rubber, lighter wheels, aero updates, beefed up cooling, and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes—and, considering the publicity the seventh generation of Corvette has going for it, the “Z07” moniker would make some sense. It’s also the next Vette in the hopper, after the convertible and targa models start rolling off production lines.
Why It Matters: The new Stingray is already back ordered and the Bowling Green assembly plant has yet to begin producing saleable models. While the order bank is currently full, this is a boutique sports car and keeping enthusiasm on the boil requires regular testosterone injections. Toward that end, Chevy is working on a more powerful and capable replacement for its Z06. Further emphasizing the importance of this model, we believe that there will be no C7-generation ZR1—at least not until late in this generation’s product cycle.
Platform: The Stingray has all the structural integrity required to support extension models with additional power, speed, and prowess. To take advantage of the added impetus, Chevrolet will fit the Z07 with Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes and larger Michelin tires.
Powertrain: The GM small-block V-8 has demonstrated convincing signs of immortality. Even though pushrods still open just two valves per cylinder, the addition of direct injection, variable cam timing, and new combustion chambers gives this stalwart one more lease on life in the General’s fast lane. Expect this tenet of GM performance to continue as the basis for the Z07.
Cadillac’s enthusiastic shift from supercharging to single- or twin turbos for its performance cars convinces us that Chevrolet will follow the same course for the Corvette. In light of GM’s ever-more-stringent fuel-economy obligations, we’re expecting the Z07 to produce 600 horsepower from significantly less than 6.2 liters of displacement. It may be no coincidence that Cadillac touted a 500-hp, 4.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 in its recently unveiled Elmiraj concept coupe. Air-to-liquid heat exchangers will handle cooling duties for the compressed intake air.
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• Instrumented Test: 2014 Corvette Stingray Z51
• Comparo: 2013 Viper GTS vs. 2013 Corvette ZR1
While the new Hydra-Matic eight-speed automatic will be fitted in Corvettes by the time the Z07 arrives, we don’t imagine it to be available in this guise. Expect the Z07 to be offered exclusively with the Tremec TR-6070 seven-speed manual transmission.
Competition: Audi R8, Ferrari 458, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 Turbo, SRT Viper.
Estimated Arrival and Price: We expect the car to bow in early 2015—a debut in Detroit would be awfully fitting—before arriving on showroom floors as a 2016 model in the second half of the year. While the outgoing Z06 commanded around $76,000, figure on a sticker price starting at $100,000 for the Z07.
Full Article & Additional Photos
Car & Driver Online, August 2013
BY DON SHERMAN