What is it?
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 may be one of the maddest cars on sale today. It’s a special edition of the seventh-generation Corvette Stingray, which launched in 2014. While the ‘standard’ C7 makes do with just 455 bhp, the Z06 turns everything up to 11, with frightening results.
Under the bonnet, you get a 6.2-litre, supercharged V8 that develops 650 bhp and 650 bhp lb-ft of torque. That’s enough for a 0-100 km/h time of about 3.0 seconds, and a top speed of about 300 km/h. Power, naturally, goes directly to the rear wheels, which are clothed in massive Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
But the speed stats only tell half of the story – this is a proper street racer. There’s an electronic limited slip differential, like you get on a Ferrari. There are six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brakes. There’s a new front splitter, spats around the front wheel openings, and a carbon-fibre bonnet with larger vents. There are other redesigned vents on the rear fenders, a new rear spoiler, and a removable Targa roof that’s also made out of carbon fibre.
And that’s just the tip of iceberg in terms of the amount of fettling that Chevrolet has done with the Corvette Z06. The whole thing is very much inspired by the Corvette C7.R racing car, with which the Z06 shares plenty of parts. Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either a road-going version of a real racer, or a lighter, harder, faster version of what is already a very quick road car.
How does it drive?
The Corvette Z06 is an axe-murderer of a car. Even with the driving mode set to ‘Eco’, it feels like it’s constantly threatening you with an ultimatum: “Stay focused, or I’ll kill you.”
And you really do need to stay focused when driving this thing. There might be an e-diff, electronic stability control and a ‘performance traction management’ system, but this car will slide regardless of what you’re doing. Just look at the throttle, and you’ll be instantly wrestling with the steering wheel as the tail kicks out. This is either hilarious or terrifying, depending on the mood you’re in. But on public roads, it’s mostly terrifying.
As is the speed. Once you’ve got the tail under control, the next thing to contend with is the rate at which you’re hurtling towards the horizon. Time and space bend around you as the car leaps forward as if through an inter-dimensional portal. Your face grimaces and your stomach twists as your body struggles against the immense G-force. In an instant, you’re well over the national speed limit and it’s time to back off if you value your life and your driving licence.
It’s almost worth it for the noise, though. At the bottom of the rev range, it’s supercharger-whine, but as the revs climb, so does the volume of that monstrous V8, which delivers a glorious bass crescendo to accompany the falsetto tones of the supercharger. A pity, then, that you have to be near the top of the rev range to access the full, orchestral might of the engine note. By the time it’s where you want it, you’re doing three times the speed of sound and you need to back off because you’re on public roads.
Really, then, the Corvette Z06 is best used on a track, where you can really take advantage of the immense speed it offers. Once you do find yourself on a track, though, you should be in for a lot of fun. The steering is beautifully weighted – it feels analogue in a way that few other cars’ set-ups do these days. There’s actual communication about what the front wheels are doing through the steering wheel, and a real sense of what the road surface is like.
Indeed, even though we’ve moaned about how tail-happy the Corvette Z06 is, the sweet steering, paired with the traction control system, makes it pretty easy to control even frighteningly large slides. There is a big button that allows you to turn the traction systems off completely, but we’d avoid that if you’re anything other than a professional racing driver. If you do decide to chance it, you can take comfort in the fact that the brakes are sharp, responsive and fade-resistant.
Elsewhere, the Corvette Z06 is more comfortable than you’d expect of a road-going racer. The suspension is firm but reasonably pliant, thanks to the adaptive dampers. And the 8-speed automatic gearbox is pretty smooth. There is quite a bit of noise in the cabin, though – whether it’s the radiator, supercharger or engine noise that seeps in, you get the feeling that this thing wasn’t designed for long-distance cruising. If that’s your bag, you’re better off accepting the noise in all its glory by simply removing the Targa roof, which slots neatly into the generous boot.
And don’t worry about all the attention you’re getting – this car attracts eyeballs like no-one’s business. People genuinely love seeing it around, and will flock towards it over a Ferrari or Lamborghini in a heartbeat. That’s not a bad perk, given the Corvette costs half what those cars do.
Interior quality and tech
The Corvette Z06 may have lashings of carbon fibre dotted around its cabin, but it still makes an effort to create a reasonably inviting space. The seats are body-hugging and supportive, and the steering wheel is clad in Alcantara, but otherwise it feels like a normal Corvette in here, meaning you get plenty of leather, and plenty of tech. There are a couple of plasticky feeling bits around the cabin – more so than you’d expect to find in a German rival – but otherwise it’s a nice place to sit. Cubby holes dotted around the cabin – and the aforementioned boot – also make it more practical than a lot of the other sports cars around.
Tech-wise, you’ve got a large touchscreen at the top of the centre console, plus another screen on the instrument panel in between the rev counter and speed-o. That instrument panel screen can obviously be configured to display a range of different read-outs. And you get a head-up display showing your current speed – a must in a car like this.
The main infotainment screen is a bit of a mixed bag. It was unresponsive to touch inputs on our test car, and difficult to navigate to compared to a lot of other systems on offer. There are physical buttons that act as shortcuts to various different functions, which helps things, but overall you’re going to have to go through a bit of a learning curve to get to grips with everything.
The party piece, however, is that the centre console screen can be retracted to reveal a secret compartment behind. It may be a little gimmicky, but it’s cool in a way that it wouldn’t be on any car other than a Corvette. Childish, but amazing.
You’d assume that a sports car powered by a 650 bhp V8 isn’t going to be cheap to run. And you’d be right. The Corvette Z06 absolutely drinks fuel. The official figures suggest it’ll do 13.06 l /km, but if you drive it like it’s supposed to be driven, you can reckon on a lot less than that. Also, you can expect frequent oil changes. On the instrument cluster, there’s a handy graphic that shows you how much life is left in your oil, and it dropped by 1% every day we had the car. So you’re looking at services every 100 days.
Car insurance isn’t cheap, either. This is an AED 415,000 car capable of melting its occupants’ faces off with its speed. As a result, expect to pay at least AED 11,000 per year for a fully comprehensive insurance policy. Residuals, however, should be pretty good. This is a hugely desirable car, which’ll mean it should keep a lot of its value.
The Corvette Z06 is an absolute madman, a take-no-prisoners, gung-ho monster that’ll pounce at the slightest provocation. And while that can be seriously entertaining, it’s simply too mad and fast to enjoy on public roads. If you don’t have easy access to a track (and racing experience), you’re better off with the ‘standard’ Corvette. For those with nerves of steel, though, the Z06 will deliver millions more thrills than any other car at its price point.