Until recently, I was a Hellcat fanboy. No domestic sheet metal matched the Challenger and the Charger for performance, exhilaration, and price. All that flew out the window — at extremely high speeds — after driving the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Sorry, Dodge Brothers, but the Corvette Z06 is a world-class supercar.
Ironically, this is coming from a guy who, until the last generation, didn’t particularly like Corvettes. I found them uncomfortable to drive and thought them lacking in any civility on the open road. I found them more a chore to drive than engaging. Granted, that put me in a small minority. But now I’m part of the screaming masses after spending track and road time with the 2015 Corvette Z06 outside of Vegas.
The 2015 Corvette Z06 is equipped with a new LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with direct injection, Active Fuel Management (also called cylinder deactivation), and continuously variable valve timing. That is certified at 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. With the eight-speed, paddle-shift automatic, it can hit 60 mph in 2.95 seconds. It’s 3.2 seconds with the standard, seven-speed manual.
The seven-speed manual incorporates rev-matching technology for upshifts and downshifts. The seven speed is used with a new dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch, which deliver greater shift quality and feel through lower inertia. Yet, for fuel efficiency you can still shift from 1st to 4th gear. That’s right, I just discussed fuel efficiency in a review of a Corvette Z06.
By the way, fuel economy for the manual transmission is rated at 15-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. The automatic is rated at 13-mpg city and 21-mpg highway. You’ll pay a gas guzzler tax of $1,300 on the automatic but not the manual.
Here comes the heretical statement: avoiding that tax is the only reason to buy the Z06 with the manual transmission. The automatic is demonstrably better, especially on the track. Downshifts were perfect and acceleration out of the curves was mind blowing. Handling and braking are also impressive. The Z06 can stop from 60 mph in 99 feet thanks to massive Brembo brakes with two-piece steel rotors.
The Corvette Z06 also features a smart electronic limited-slip differential. It is standard on the Z06 to make the most of the torque split between the rear wheels. The system features a hydraulically actuated clutch that can infinitely vary clutch engagement and can respond from open to full engagement in tenths of a second. It shifts torque based on a unique algorithm that factors in vehicle speed, steering input and throttle position to improve steering feel, handling balance and traction.
Corvette notches the excitement up with the Z07 track package, which adds $7,995 to the starting price of $78,995. It adds adjustable front and rear aero components for aerodynamic downforce, Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup tires for enhanced grip, and Brembo carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors that improve braking performance and contribute to greater handling through reduced unsprung weight.
I flogged the Z07 package around the track at Spring Mountain Motorsports in Pahrump, Nevada. It effortlessly handled the twists, turns, and straightaways. It made me a much better driver than I am.
The Z07 package also adds larger winglets to the front splitter, along with an adjustable, see-through center section on the rear spoiler for track use. With this package, the Corvette Z06 delivers the most aerodynamic downforce of any production car GM has tested.
As mentioned, this is a perfectly civil car to drive, even at low speeds. For some people it could be a legitimate commuter car (maybe not colder climes during the winter). It doesn’t have that restless leg syndrome feeling most sports cars do under 50 mph thanks to torque that can pull you comfortably from 15 mph to 50 mph without breaking a sweat.
One big problem? It’s easy to get north of the speed limit quickly. Fortunately, law enforcement along the Nevada/California border outside of Parumph must have been on a donut break. Otherwise, some auto journalists who claimed to break the 150 mph barrier might be pounding rocks in the hot Nevada sun right now.
Engine: 6.2-liter, supercharged V8
Horsepower: 650 @ 6,400 rpm
0-60: 2.9 Seconds
Too fast for public roads