The Corvette Z06: a ruthless American supercar

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The eighth generation “C8” Chevrolet Corvette, which first debuted in 2019, is nothing short of the American supercar. The C8 embodies a rarely seen mid-rear engine layout, along with a powerful V8, which allowed it to make waves when it first hit the road. Since then it has consistently delivered incredible performance for its value. Since its original launch, Chevy has been teasing an even better performing variant and now the world is getting exactly what it was waiting for in the form of the Corvette Z06.

New for 2023, the performance-oriented track weapon that is the Z06 bridges the gap between the Corvette road base model and the racing oriented model C8.R. Its only goal is to wreak havoc on absolutely anything in its path, on the track or otherwise.

At the heart of its ruthlessness is a high-rpm naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 engine that produces a staggering 670 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 460 Nm of torque. In fact, General Motors claims that the LT6 engine found in the C8 Z06 is the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 in a production car, period.

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He certainly plays the part too. The rear V8 of the new Corvette Z06 emits visceral exhaust notes as one would expect to hear from the tailpipe of an exotic sports car, such as a McLaren P1, Ferrari F430 or Lotus Esprit. And there is a reason for that. It starts with a key component found inside the Z06’s V8 engine, which is also shared with all those legendary cars.

Let’s take a look at the engine of the Z06

To better understand what makes the Z06 such a special addition to the Corvette range, help head to the back of the car and open the hatch. Hidden right in front of the rear wheels is the LT6 engine, the true protagonist of this Corvette’s mechanical symphony. While this might look like any other V8, its flat crankshaft makes all the difference.

Each piston within an engine is connected to the engine crankshaft via a connecting rod. The piston is responsible for compressing the air and fuel to be ignited and is both balanced and timed by the crankshaft. The connecting rod attaches to a smooth, lubricated cylindrical surface on the crankshaft called the crankpin, which allows the piston to be raised and lowered inside the cylinder of an engine as the crankshaft rotates.

The connecting rod pins are evenly spaced along the length of the crankshaft – one connecting rod pin for each cylinder. On a normal cross-type crankshaft found in a traditional V8 engine, each crankpin (along with a corresponding counterweight mounted in front of it for balance) is rotated around the crankshaft, which is positioned approximately 90 degrees from the crankshaft. ‘other. Think of this as evenly distributing weights along the Earth’s equator to maintain balance. This spacing creates a primary and secondary balance point along the crank axis of rotation. As a result, a cross crankshaft engine is better stabilized and has reduced noise, vibration and harshness.

However, comfort does come with some trade-offs. A cross crankshaft achieves additional balance by placing the aforementioned counterweights on the crankshaft in front of each crank pin, meaning the crankshaft is often larger and the rotational mass of the fastest part of the engine is increased . A heavier rotational mass means a less responsive engine, and a larger crankshaft means less compact engine packaging.

Meanwhile, this Corvette’s flat-plane V8 is essentially two straight-four engines squashed together with a single primary balance point on the axis of rotation. This configuration (along with forged aluminum pistons and titanium connecting rods) allows for a lighter rotational mass with shorter strokes – the distance a piston travels from top dead center to the bottom of the cylinder – and, as a result, can typically increase of revolutions, considerably faster than an engine equipped with a cross crankshaft.

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In the case of the C8 Corvette Z06, it can reach 8,600 rpm, 30% more than the V8 LT2 found in the base coat. And as a bonus, the LT6 found in the Z06 boosts power up to 8,400 rpm.

The C8’s unique sound is a combination of how high the hand-built LT6 can spin, as well as the order in which the cylinders fire. A flat crankshaft will alternate the combustion process between its left and right cylinder banks, resulting in increased efficiency plumes of perfectly synchronized exhaust gas pulses. A traditional V8, which this vehicle does not have, does not always follow this order and produces the typical sonic signature of the roaring V8.

Power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and the combination of high power along with the quick-change transmission allows for a 0-60mph sprint of just 2.6 seconds. That acceleration is comparable to the $ 625,000 Ferrari SF90 Stradale, albeit no doubt for less money.

Going fast requires more than just power

Of course, the Z06 isn’t just pure power. Chevrolet engineers knew it could also rework other aspects of the platform to better increase the overall performance of the car.

The changes start on the ground with a series of large offset wheels. At the front are 10-inch wide wheels that measure 20 inches in diameter and the rears are even larger at 21 inches by 13 inches. Aluminum wheels are standard, though an additional carbon-fiber set is available if the buyer wishes to drop another 41 pounds of unsprung weight. An optional Z07 package also includes Brembo-branded brakes with very large 15.7-inch and 15.4-inch carbon-ceramic rotors to increase stopping power.

These larger wheels required a new body. Chevy increased the car’s overall stance by 3.6 inches and accompanied the additional width with a wider bodywork that allows for better aerodynamics and additional cooling. Additional optional carbon fiber tips include a larger front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody aerodynamics.

The all-new 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is expected to land on dealership lots starting in the summer of 2022, so get ready to hear the sound of a screaming flat-deck V8 on roads and tracks shortly thereafter. For now, take comfort in knowing that GM has built what may be the most capable American supercar in history.

As for the prices, it takes a little more patience on that front as well. GM has not yet released the recommended price for the Z06, but more information is expected to be announced closer to the launch date.

Fix October 28, 2021: This post has been updated to correct an error describing the V8 on the base model C8 Corvette as a twin-turbo engine. It is not.

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