Okay, I seriously underestimated the Corvette Z06…just because it’s American.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s April 2007 issue
Nothing against our US brethren, mind you, but supercar recipes are served on Italian and German menus, and I’ve had my fill of late. Plus I’d not been keeping up on the hype that this is a Porsche beater.
Chev says the Z06 matches Porsche’s quickest-ever 911 to 100 kays (3.7sec) and 400 metres (11.7sec), and nailed a blistering 7:43 lap around the Nurburgring Nordscheife – that’s two seconds faster than the new GT3.
Look at the specs and it’s easy to see why. The high-revving, hand-built, dry-sumped, titanium con-rodded 7.0-litre LS7 V8 produces 377kW and 637Nm – that’s a GM small-block landmark. The aluminium/magnesium structure and composite carbonfibre bodywork keeps kerb weight down to 1421kg for a 997 911 Turbo-crushing 265.3kW per tonne. This is the fastest and most powerful ’Vette ever built, and best of all, it’s now available here.
Queensland’s Performax International has managed to do what GM/H hasn’t: land brand-spanking right-hook Z06s on Aussie roads. With supercar performance, though, comes supercar cost. PI’s OE-quality steering conversion alone could buy you a Commodore SS, with change. Add import duty, GST, and luxury tax, and Chevrolet’s bargain basement $US75k domestic giant killer instantly becomes a $AU240,000 imported extravagance.
But while the handsome coupe sits broad and low spread-eagled across Queensland Raceway’s pit lane, it hardly looks the value. Less so inside. Cheap rep-mobile plastics, too-shiny leather, the push-button fetish (including doorhandles) and jetfighter-like head-up display are a bit Miami Vice, and mask an otherwise top driving position and ergonomics.
Classic MOTOR: 2005 Corvette review
The muted exhaust note and HSV GTS-like docile tractability at a dawdle hints at nothing special, but press the loud pedal and Z06 gets very serious, very quickly.
No other Gen IV V8 feels this racey. It revs crisply to 7100rpm with a V8 Supercar-like soundtrack, and with an endless dynamo of torque reserves everywhere, it’d bolt around the whole circuit in fourth. Corner exit drive is monstrous, with impressive power-down bite, and it takes a fair serve to unglue the fat 285mm rears, revealing a pliable and soft-edged breakaway.
The brawn is expected, but Z06’s accuracy is the big surprise. Its broad track, flat stance and finely-tuned, unusual-spec short/long-arm double-wishbone/transverse leaf spring suspension offers tenacious turn-in grip, with meaty-weighted tiller and exceptional sharpness and feedback.
GM claims it will hold 1.04G of constant lateral grip, and in the tighter stuff it feels like it will, too. And the brakes (the six-pot fronts have separate pads for each piston) never lose their commanding bite or solid pedal feel during constant hot lappery.
Pushed, the Z06 has real depths of ability. But its character is unique, a love child offering both Euro supercar-like performance exhilaration with the boofy fun and basic edification of a muscle car that’s been amplified to heavy metal concert volumes.
Need for Z06 power? Harrop Engineering-tuned Z06 feature
PI says the ’Vette is aimed at those after supercar performance for half the price. Perhaps there’s a more obvious buyer niche; where is the self-made, blue-collared, V8-lovin’ millionaire to go upward from a GTS or Senator? Well, the Z06 smashes through HSV’s glass ceiling and sits way, way up into the stratosphere as a lofty new V8 muscle car Valhalla.
Sure, it lacks the sweetness and refinement of, say, the similarly priced Porsche Carrera S, but for some tastes the Z06’s lure is exactly that; it’s nothing like the bourgeois Euro exotics.
King ’Vette serves lashings of meat and potatoes, skipping the side salad and dressing, American style.
Living the good ol' days on classic MOTOR
2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Engine: 7008cc V8, OHV, 16v
Power: 377kW @ 6300rpm
Torque: 637Nm @ 4800rpm
0-97km/h: 3.7sec (claimed)
Top speed: 318km/h (claimed)
Likes: Ferocious performance and handling, iconic (stigma-free) appeal
Dislikes: Americana interior, gearshift quality, price, bystanders mistaking it for a “Ferrari”
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars