Almost two years after Chevy unveiled their “base model” C8 Corvette Stingray back in 2019, they have finally followed up with what enthusiasts everywhere have been clamoring for since we got our first glimpse at the C8: the new Corvette Z06. The Z06 was an optional performance package for the Corvette back in the 1960’s, and after a long hiatus, the Z06 nameplate finally returned for the C5 generation over 20 years ago.
Since then, it has served as the high-performance version of the Corvette (just a tier shy of the mighty ZR1), always featuring a more powerful engine, sport-oriented suspension, different body work, and in the most recent generations, a factory wide body kit. Knowing how incredible the base C8 is, it’s no surprise that there was a lot of hype surrounding the release of the Z06 version.
In the case of the C8 Z06, the hype was very well-deserved. The C8 Z06, judging by what we know from the official press release material, looks to be a truly incredible machine. In this article, we’ll go over all the details on the new Z06, but more importantly, we’ll talk about why I think that the new Z06 is an absolutely huge deal for the car world, beyond just being the hot new Corvette.
The basics: C8 Z06 official specs
The base model C8 wields an already potent 6.2L naturally aspirated V8 making 490 horsepower and 465lb-ft of torque. In typical Chevy fashion, it’s a crossplane crank design with overhead valves, two valves per cylinder, and a relatively low 6,500rpm redline. In other words, it’s a strong engine, but it’s relatively old-school in it’s architecture, and it’s what we’ve come to expect from Chevy.
The C8 Z06, on the other hand, features an all-new 5.5L naturally aspirated V8 making an astounding 670hp and 470lb-ft of torque. Unlike any previous Chevy engine, the Z06’s V8, dubbed the LT6, uses a flat-plane crank design with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.
Oh, and it revs all the way to the moon, spinning up to an 8,600rpm redline before the 8-speed DCT rips off a gear change. The only real similarity between the base model and the Z06 are it’s transmission: both cars feature 8-speed dual clutch units as the sole transmission option. This DCT, in conjunction with the LT6, propel the Z06 to 60mph in just 2.6 seconds.
Why the new Z06’s LT6 engine is so incredible
The highlight of the new Z06 is undoubtedly its absolute masterpiece of an engine. Perhaps the most important detail about the LT6 is its horsepower output: 670. At first glance, this may not be that impressive compared to the previous C7 Z06, which made only 20hp less at 650. That is, until you consider that the previous car had a 0.7 liter size advantage, and it needed forced induction to get to that 650 figure. Conversely, the LT6 generates its shove au naturel, using less displacement, and natural aspiration. Oh, and it’s also the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 ever fitted to a production car, which is pretty cool, I guess.
In the competition to be the coolest thing about the LT6, it’s flat-plane crank design slots in at a close second to the whole “most powerful N/A V8 ever” detail. Most V8s use a cross-plane crank design. Without getting too bogged down with the technical details, this means that the crank pins are offset by 90 degrees, and with a cross plane crank design, there are pistons in the same cylinder bank firing consecutively.
This can create imbalances, so cross plane cranks must be fitted with counterweights to keep things in order. With a flat plane crank, like in the Z06, all of the crank pins are on the same plane, allowing for natural balance and thus no need for the heavy counterweights that cross plane cranks require.
This makes flat plane cranks lighter, and thus able to rev more quickly and higher than their cross plane counterparts. This high-revving flat plane crank design is what gave previous generation Ferrari V8s their distinctive wail, and judging by the press release videos, the new Z06 seems to have that same bone-rattling scream at the high rpms.
In tandem, the LT6’s flat plane crank design and it’s record-setting horsepower output are sure to make for an unforgettable powertrain.
Why the Z06 is so important for the car world
In years past, you had to spend $300,000 on a Ferrari 458 Speciale to get a flat-plane crank N/A V8 and a 2.8 second 0-60 time. Now, you can spend ⅓ of that, and get even better in a Corvette, as the new Z06 hustles to 60mph in just 2.6 seconds! (official pricing details on the C8Z aren’t out yet, but it’s expected to start around $100,000 USD).
That value is the primary reason that the new Z06 is probably going to make big waves in the supercar world. The base model stingray was already a great performance bargain, but it still used an old-school chevy V8, which was enough to prevent it from having all the panache of a true supercar.
Now with the Z06’s flat-plane crank, high-revving V8, it is a bonafide, honest to goodness supercar that costs ⅓ of what other cars offering similar performance cost. And, to boot, most of the supercars that match it’s performance, like the Ferrari 488 and F8 Tributo, and McLaren 570s and 720s, use turbochargers and don’t sound anywhere near as good, or supercar-like, as the new Z06.
People argued that the C7 Z06 should be considered a supercar. And, while it could perform on that level, the interior didn’t compete, and it was still front-engined with a lumpy push-rod V8. I’m a big fan of the C7 Z06, but it was more super-muscle car than supercar. Now with the C8 Z06, you have a proper supercar layout with the engine behind you, a supercar engine, a very upmarket feeling interior, and true supercar performance.
You can even get supercar-esque options like carbon fiber wheels. To have all of this available for just $100,000, or heck, even $150,000 once all specced out, is truly a value that the car world has never seen before. And because of that, it may have an effect that we’ve never seen before. For this reason, I don’t really know how it will change the supercar market, but I expect it to at least shake things up a bit.