C/D Road Test - Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    With 505 horsepower, this must be the golden age of the Corvette.

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    BY LARRY WEBSTER
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM FETS
    October 2005

    GM wants the world to know that it can take on the best of Europe with the new 505-hp Z06, the fastest Corvette the company has ever produced. To make that point, GM held the first press drive of this American sports car in Europe.

    The three-day tour began in Germany, headed west to Belgium, and then southwest for Paris. Along the way we did a handful of laps at the Nürburgring's Formula 1 track, a 3.2-mile course that's next to the famous 12.9-mile Nordschleife course, and at Spa, a 4.3-mile road course in Belgium that has the hairiest downhill-uphill series of three wicked turns we've ever sweated through. That section, called Eau Rouge, provided the biggest thrills of what was basically an uneventful tour. Europeans gawked at the car and seemed to applaud it. They likely were unaware that they were witnessing the arrival of a car that exposes the majority of European sports cars for what they are: overpriced, underperforming snobs.

    The Z06 starts at $65,800. It is the most powerful and expensive model in the Vette lineup and, interestingly, the lightest
    . Usually, the best-performing car in any model lineup is the beefiest, because adding horsepower generally means fortifying other parts of the car to withstand the strain caused by big power.

    The Z06's expanded power comes from a new pushrod 7.0-liter V-8 engine. Except for the titanium connecting rods and intake valves, there's nothing in this engine's parts list to suggest that it's a monster motor. The genius here is in the details, with careful attention paid to maximum airflow and valvetrain weight and stiffness. The result is a big engine that revs like a small one to 7000 rpm with a 6300-rpm horsepower peak. The torque curve is wide and flat with more than 400 pound-feet available between 2400 and 6400 rpm.

    To handle an engine that could twist a maple tree like a washrag, Chevy beefed up the rear axle, the six-speed manual transmission, and the clutch, and installed wider wheels and larger brakes. The idea, according to assistant chief engineer Tadge Juechter, was to create a robust platform that could deal with the stresses and heat of the big motor. To that end, the team also added coolers for every fluid except brake fluid and enlarged the radiator. To maintain oil pressure during sustained high-g cornering maneuvers, they also installed a dry-sump oil system on the engine. Engine oil is usually carried in a deep pan that hangs on the bottom of the engine, but a dry-sump system uses a shallow pan and an external oil reservoir. Oil capacity is eight quarts for the Z06 versus 5.5 for the base car.

    All the new bits added about 100 pounds to the base 3288-pound, 400-hp Vette, a figure that wouldn't burden the Z06's power, which had been increased by 105 horses. But to Chevy's credit, the team trimmed fat like the best Hollywood plastic surgeon.

    The headliner in the weight-loss program is the aluminum frame that weighs 136 pounds, which works out to a third less than the regular Vette's heavier but stronger steel unit. To retain chassis rigidity, the Z06 eschews the removable roof for a fixed cast-magnesium structure and another magnesium piece for the engine cradle.

    Weight was also shed by using carbon-fiber floorboards and front fenders and liners. The end result is a "mosaic of materials," says Juechter. When all was said and done to the Z06, it weighed in at 3147 pounds, or 141 less than the base Vette. To put that in perspective, Ferrari's all-aluminum F430 weighs 3380 pounds, and Porsche's carbon-fiber $446,000 Carrera GT weighs 3146 pounds.

    As little as the Z06 weighs, it does not feel like a light, nimble car. To accommodate the wider rear tires (325/30ZR-19s versus stock 285/35ZR-19s), the Z06's tail bulges an extra 3.3 inches for a 75.9-inch width; the car fills the width of a typically narrow European back road.

    By threading carefully through the curves, we had no problem stretching the Vette's legs on the autobahn as we left the Nürburgring. Although we never got close to the car's claimed 198-mph top speed, 150 mph was a breeze. The Z06 has some aero tweaks, such as a deeper front spoiler and a small rear spoiler, that help keep the car planted as the rushing air tries to lift it off the ground.

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    If we hadn't missed an autobahn exit, we'd have made the 85-mile trip to Spa in record time. Spa is a track we've all seen on TV on the Formula 1 tour, but the tube does not do this circuit justice. The signature section is called Eau Rouge. It starts with a steep downhill straight that's bordered by the pit wall on one side and an Armco barrier on the other. At the bottom of the hill, the course takes a quick left, then immediately bends back to the right as it goes abruptly uphill. At the top of the hill the course shifts back to the left. It is a fast section that's taken at over 100 mph in the Z06, and one can't help getting that sweaty-palm feeling simply watching somebody fly through it.
    The rest of the course is filled with fast high-speed sweepers with plenty of elevation changes and a plethora of unfriendly-looking walls, barriers, and trees to get up close and personal with should one go off . The track was built in the early 1920s, when race drivers had a short life expectancy and seatbelts were a future invention.

    And remember, we were about to drive this course in a car with a power-to-weight ratio that's better than a Ford GT's (6.2 pounds per horsepower versus 6.4), so obtaining speed would not be a problem. Summoning courage, however, was.

    We went for a ride with Corvette test driver Jim Mero to learn the course. Heading downhill to Eau Rouge, he accelerated into fourth gear, or about 130 mph. At the bottom of the hill he flicked the car left, then right, and headed uphill and arced back left as he crested. All this in the blink of an eye. The speed never dropped below 110 mph.

    We were a little slower through Eau Rouge, but we're not pinning that on the car. The Z06 is very well balanced. It won't do anything that will surprise the driver. Drivers can reliably predict which end will slide based on how the car has been set up to take the corner.

    Eventually, we got comfortable. As benign as the Corvette handles, the chassis still moves around and takes some getting used to. Some cars, like the Porsche 911, provide an instant confident feeling that the Z06 does not impart. It's tough to put your finger on exactly why that is. The Z06 corners flatly, and it breaks away in a smooth, easily controlled manner, but it takes some time to get confident with its behavior. The steering is a tad numb, even though we didn't detect any free play or slop.

    After two laps we lined up for Eau Rouge, determined to duplicate Mero's smooth run, and kept the throttle pinned as we neared the bottom of the hill. We hit the dip, flicked left, then right, and headed back uphill. Somewhere in the sequence, we erred—probably lifting off the gas when we shouldn't have. It's hard to say exactly what happened, but the car got squirrelly. We weren't frightened. Terrified is a better word. In the middle of this bad moment, the Z06's stability-control system kicked in and kept us on track.

    Yes, the Z06 has a stability-control system with a competition mode that allows enough leeway to let you slide the car, but it will intervene in a dramatic slide. We'd wisely left it on.

    That system is part of the Z06's strange dichotomy. On one hand, it's a perfectly reasonable street car. It's easy to get into and out of, there's a 22-cubic-foot luggage compartment, the view out is expansive in all directions, the ride is reasonably plush, and except for some tire noise from the run-flat Goodyears, it's a comfortable highway cruiser. We only found a few annoyances—a transmission tunnel that gets toasty and some gear rattle when we lugged the engine. You could drive this car every day.

    But by almost every performance standard, the Z06 is a supercar. A few days after our trip, we took a Z06 to GM's Milford proving ground and tested it. It ripped to 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds, hit 100 in 7.9, and 150 in 17.5. That's on par with or better than the performance of the $153,345 Ford GT (and good luck getting that price) and $180,785 Ferrari F430. Likewise, the brakes are terrific, bringing the Vette to a standstill from 70 mph in only 162 feet. And it pulled 0.98 g on the skidpad. Spending double the Z06's price does not guarantee you'll have a car that can beat it.

    When you experience this thrilling car and are aware of the Corvette's string of Le Mans victories (four class wins in five tries), it seems reasonable to say that we're in the golden age of the Corvette.

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    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Supercar performance at a reasonable price, everyday practicality.

    Lows: An uncommunicative chassis.

    The Verdict: If the rest of the GM line were as good as this, the company's troubles would be over.


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    CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe

    Price as tested: $69,995

    Price and option breakdown: base Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (includes $800 freight), $65,800; 2LZ package (includes heated seats, power-telescoping steering wheel, 6-CD changer, satellite radio), $2900; polished wheels, $1295

    Major standard accessories: power windows, driver seat, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Chevrolet AM-FM radio/CD changer, 7 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 4.13 x 4.00 in, 104.8 x 101.6mm
    Displacement: 428 cu in, 7008cc
    Compression ratio: 11.0:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: pushrods, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
    Power (SAE net): 505 bhp @ 6300 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 470 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
    Redline: 7000 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 6-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 3.42:1, limited slip
    Gear - Ratio - Mph/1000 rpm - Speed in gears
    I - 2.66 - 8.4 - 59 mph (7000 rpm)
    II - 1.78 - 12.6 - 88 mph (7000 rpm)
    III - 1.30 - 17.3 - 121 mph (7000 rpm)
    IV - 1.00 - 22.4 - 157 mph (7000 rpm)
    V - 0.74 - 30.3 - 198 mph (6500 rpm)
    VI - 0.50 - 44.9 - 160 mph (3600 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 105.7 in
    Track, front/rear: 63.5/62.5 in
    Length/width/height: 175.6/75.9/49.0 in
    Ground clearance: 4.8 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.34) x frontal area (22.3 sq ft): 7.6 sq ft
    Curb weight: 3147 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 50.9/49.1%
    Curb weight per horsepower: 6.2 lb

    Fuel capacity: 18.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: full-length frame integral with the body
    Body material: fiberglass-and-carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 52 cu ft
    luggage: 22 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front and side airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, transverse leaf spring, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind, unequal-length control arms with a toe-control link, transverse leaf spring, anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with variable hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 16.1:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.9
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 39.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and
    anti-lock control
    Front: 14.0 x 1.3-in vented disc
    Rear: 13.4 x 1.0-in vented disc


    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size: F: 9.5 x 18 in, R: 12.0 x 19 in
    Wheel type: cast aluminum
    Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar EMT; F: P275/35ZR-18 (87Y), R: P325/30ZR-19 (94Y)
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 30/30 psi
    Spare: none

    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION: Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph: 1.6
    40 mph: 2.2
    50 mph: 2.8
    60 mph: 3.6
    70 mph: 4.5
    80 mph: 5.5
    90 mph: 6.7
    100 mph: 7.9
    110 mph: 9.3
    120 mph: 11.0
    130 mph: 12.8
    140 mph: 15.0
    150 mph: 17.5
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 4.3
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 12.9
    50-70 mph: 10.6
    Standing 1/4-mile: 11.7 sec @ 125 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 198 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 162 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.98 g
    Understeer: minimal


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 16 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 26 mpg

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  2. cASe SenSiTive

    cASe SenSiTive Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime

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  3. Yes have some!

    Yes have some! Active Member

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    welcome to 3 weeks ago.
     
  4. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Chevrolet still to this day cannot engineer the feel into a chassis that the Europeans can. Despite all of their performance advancements, this is their largest shortfall.
     
  5. blykins

    blykins New Member

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    At the dragstrip near me, you have to have a cage if you run faster than 11.99. So eveyone will get 1 run at the track and then have to go put a cage in their brand new cars in order to run at the track again. That's gotta suck. :rofl:
     
  6. cASe SenSiTive

    cASe SenSiTive Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime

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    And yet, the Vette still kicks all kinds of Euro ass on the Ring. :wiggle:
     
  7. Bob Loblaw

    Bob Loblaw Guest

    0-60 in 3.6 :eek5:
     
  8. cantankerously

    cantankerously Active Member

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    :noes:
     
  9. William Wilson

    William Wilson This page intentionally left blank.

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    You are not...shit, you are.
     
  10. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    My daily driving does not include any driving on the 'Ring. Neither does yours.
     
  11. GTO2050

    GTO2050 OT's Ol Man™

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    Too bad you won't be able to actually buy one for $69K...more like $85K
     
  12. zatar

    zatar New Member

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    Hot damn. :wackit:
     
  13. Bob Loblaw

    Bob Loblaw Guest

    :werd:

    My boss wants one and will buy one if he can find them for MSRP, but won't pay the 10k markup bullshit, so he'll buy an AMG SLK or something instead.
     
  14. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Mine should be in within the month and was told they would knock a few grand off MSRP.
     
  15. 6SpeedTA95

    6SpeedTA95 OT Supporter

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    HOT :wackit:


    but I read that article a month ago :fawkd:
     
  16. Yail Bloor

    Yail Bloor OT Supporter

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    don't assume everyone can drive
     
  17. GTO2050

    GTO2050 OT's Ol Man™

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    It's funny that the bastard dealers can't remember when they couldn't give shit away and then something good comes and they whore it up.
     
  18. Ricey McRicerton

    Ricey McRicerton New Member

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    I agree, but the new Z06 is IMO the best bang for the buck you can get nowadays.
     
  19. popnfresh

    popnfresh Cuddle Bitch

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    still the best car you can get for 80k :o

    haters be damned
     
  20. cASe SenSiTive

    cASe SenSiTive Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime

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    Well it kicks all kinds of Euro-ass in a stoplight drag too. :mamoru:
     
  21. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    And I agree with you as well.
     
  22. GTO2050

    GTO2050 OT's Ol Man™

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    You must have pictures of the owner of the dealership with a sheep and a little boy on a trampoline. I'm sure you will be the exception.
     
  23. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Street racing is for idiots.
     
  24. blykins

    blykins New Member

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    So what is the best bang for the buck then?
     

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