The Michelins play a role in this, as in my experience, these extended-mobility tires are more compliant than their Goodyear counterparts. Plus, they stick like glue. Together, these two traits make for a Corvette that instill absolute confidence 100 percent of the time. Even when driving hard, mid-corner bumps that would likely upset a stock Z06 are not a problem, a point that was underscored when I found myself following a mid-1990s Corvette on a twisty stretch at high speed. While the C4 was jumping left and right with every big bump or dip it met, my ’11 Z06 tracked straight and true.
The considerable benefits of MSRC suspension and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires are easily noticeable on the street, but the same does not apply to the another major component of the Z07 package: the braking system inherited from the ZR1. This is because the standard Z06 brakes, consisting of huge six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers squeezing 14- and 13.4-inch cross-drilled rotors, already delivers more stopping power than almost anyone will ever use on the road. But for those who feel an irresistible urge to be the biggest dog on the porch simply for the sake of being the biggest dog on the porch, or for anyone who really will put his or her car on a racetrack, anything less than the ZR1’s top-of-the-line carbon-ceramic binders simply will not do.
Extremely rigid six-piston front calipers squeeze humongous vented and cross-drilled carbon-ceramic rotors that measure 15.5 inches in diameter and 1.6 inches in thickness. At the rear, four-piston calipers hug carbon-ceramic discs sized at 15.0 inches across and 1.4 inches deep. The carbon fiber-reinforced ceramic silicon carbide material used to craft the rotors offers an unmatched combination of low mass, incredible strength and exceptional resistance to both wear and heat. Further aiding longevity and heat control is the total pad surface area, which is almost twice the swept area of standard Z06 brakes; enhanced airflow aids cooling, too.
Though the carbon-ceramic brakes do have a distinctly different feel under all circumstances, their on-track performance is what makes them the cat’s meow. I didn’t have an opportunity to drive the Z07-equipped Z06 on track, but I have driven ZR1s on closed courses and can say this braking system is simply remarkable in terms of how it delivers intense stopping power in a predictably linear fashion while resisting fade. Behind the wheel of the ZR1, I also learned that placing the MSRC shocks in Sport mode pays real dividends on track, further sharpening the responsive handling.
Another new-for-2011 option group offered for the Z06 is the $3,995 CFZ Carbon Fiber Package. It includes the carbon-fiber rocker panels, front splitter and roof panel from the ZR1. However, unlike on the ZR1, these items are painted black, not clear-coated. The package also includes the ZR1’s full-width, body-color rear spoiler. The CFZ parts, like the Z07’s composite brakes, are functional in a track environment, where the aero appendages’ reduction in lift are useful, but in normal street driving they are more for show. That said, the CFZ carbon parts, which graced our test car, do make the Z06 look elegantly sinister, and the fact that they are the real deal and not tacky carbon-look add-ons is enough to induce lust.