General Motors Co. Monday revealed its newest and most track-ready Corvette, unveiling the estimated 625-horsepower 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
The automaker debuted the high-performance sports car and the C7.R Corvette race car during the first of two press review days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Hundreds of journalists gathered for the reveal watched live video of a police-escorted caravan that led the new Z06 on a trailer to Cobo Center, along with 50 Corvette Stingrays from GM’s Warren Tech Center.
GM North America President Mark Reuss was all smiles while revealing the yellow Z06, calling it the “big nasty.”
“The 2015 Corvette Z06 is truly a world class supercar,” he said. “It rivals the performance, design, technology and visceral driving experience of any exotic car. It is our most capable Corvette ever.”
The 2015 Z06 features a new LT4 6.2-litersupercharged V-8 engine and the debut of a new GM developed eight-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet says the 2015 Z06 is the first Z06 model to offer a supercharged engine, automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a removable roof panel.
Also available in a seven-speed manual, the Z06 is scheduled to be available in limited quantities late this year, with volume production beginning in early 2015, said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer.
Pricing is not available. The 2013 Corvette Z06 started at $77,590. “If you could afford (a) previous-generation Z06, you’ll be able to afford this one,” Juechter said.
GM showcasing a Z06 a year after debuting the seventh-generation Corvette indicates the company is in good financial shape and that leadership has confidence to spend money on a low volume halo product, said Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book senior director of insights.
“I think it’s very significant because it really kind of puts a ribbon around the new Chevrolet Corvette, that model, and performance of the Chevrolet brand,” he said.
Chevrolet said the Z06 typically accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of total Corvette sales. In 2013, GM sold 471 Z06 models, or less than 3 percent of its 17,291 Corvette sales. Corvette sales in total last year were up 22.4 percent over 2012.
GM says the Z06, with an aluminum frame, also is fast. In early testing on GM’s Milford Proving Ground course, it was a tenth of a second faster than the Corvette ZR1, which held the previous fastest track record for a Corvette.
“Now the question on the Z06 isn’t going to be whether we’ll be able to exceed the performance of the Z06 or even the ZR1,” Juechter said. “The truth is how far are we going to obliterate the track records of those previous generation cars?”
GM says the car is engineered to hug the road. The Corvette Z06’s aerodynamics create more downforce than any car GM has tested, Juechter said.
“We’re quite confident of the performance credentials this car is going to have,” he said.
The Corvette Z06 will have at least 625 horsepower and 635 foot pounds of torque. That’s nearly 37 percent more horsepower and 40 percent more torque than the Stingray’s LT1 engine. It also tops the 2013 Corvette Z06’s 505 horsepower and 470 foot-pounds of torque with a 7-liter V-8 engine.
Its new engine features direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable valve timing to help with fuel economy. GM expects the vehicle will be one of the “most fuel efficient 600 horsepower cars in the world,” Juechter said. Fuel economy estimates are not available.
The eight-speed transmission is expected to be about 5 percent more fuel efficient than a six-speed transmission and is eight pounds lighter, Juechter said.
Exterior styling changes were required for performance, cooling and downforce such as a uniquely created grille texture, a larger hood outlet, larger front fender vents and rear spoilers. The vehicle features larger, wider wheels and tires and unique rear look.
“Virtually every exterior change served a functional purpose, as this beast needed more of everything,” said Tom Peters, Corvette design director, in a statement.
The sports car will feature three aerodynamic packages including the Z07 performance package that “gets you the truly hardcore track stuff,” Juechter said.
While the Z06 is tracked more than other Corvettes, it also doesn’t feel like a race car, Juechter said.
“If you’ve driven a ZR1, it’s a pretty civilized car, it’s pretty easy to live with,” he said. “But if you hammer on it, it’s crazy fast. This will be much the same, only more so.”
The Z06 will compete with vehicles such as the Porsche 911, SRT Viper, Nissan GT-R, Jaguar F-Type and even exotics such as the Ferrari 458, Audi R8 and Aston Martin Vantage.
Juechter said the addition of an automatic transmission and ability to have open air will give customers what they want. “This is their dream car,” he said.
The seventh version Corvette race car shares much of the same structure, including the aluminum frame, as the street car. Juechter said improvements made to the 2014 Corvette Stingray gave GM a good starting point for the next-generation race car. He said the race car chassis is 40 percent stiffer than the previous race car.