Part of the air ingested through the grille goes through a forward-tilted radiator and the supercharger’s intercooler before exiting out the louvered hood vent. This airflow path helps reduces lift. The Stingray utilizes a similar layout, but the Z06’s hood vent is larger, thus enhancing this aerodynamic benefit.
Taking their cue from the Corvette Racing team, Z06 designers went beyond just reducing lift. “The goals for the aerodynamics on this car were much more extreme than what we’ve ever done before,” explains Bennion. “This is an actual downforce car.” Exactly how much downforce a Z06 produces depends on which of the three available aero packages it has.
In its standard state, the Z06 includes a plastic front splitter, the aforementioned hood vent and the same rear spoiler found in the C7 Stingray’s Z51 Performance Package. A Z51 coupe, according to Bennion, is just about neutral, meaning it has close to zero lift. The base Z06 aero elements generate marginal downforce up front; this is balanced by the Z51 rear spoiler, which actually generates downforce on the Z06 because of the car’s slightly different pitch moment—that is, the car is pitched forward more.
A higher level of downforce is generated by an optional carbon-fiber aero package. It consists of a carbon-fiber front splitter with end plates, carbon-fiber rocker-panel extensions and a larger rear spoiler with fixed wickerbills. The customer will be able to choose between a black-painted finish or visible carbon fiber.
The third and most extreme aero configuration comes as part of the Z07 Performance Package. It includes two different-sized carbon-fiber end plates for the splitter, allowing the customer to adjust the amount of front-end downforce. At the rear, the Z07 package adds a tall, center wickerbill with about one inch of vertical adjustability. It is clear so that it doesn’t interfere with rearward vision.
Bennion explains the rationale for offering different aero setups: “There’s a diverse customer base. There are people who enjoy driving the Z06 [on the road] and then there are people who really enjoy driving the Z06 on the track. And for those people who want to maximize the car’s potential on the track, we offer the Z07 package.”
The Z07 Performance Package also includes super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (sized the same as the standard rubber) and larger, ceramic-ceramic rotors. Measuring 15.5 inches in front and 15.3 inches in the rear, these brakes nevertheless weigh 23 pounds less than the standard two-piece steel rotors, which measure 14.6 inches in the front and 14.4 inches in the rear. In both cases, fixed aluminum calipers are used at all corners, with six pistons in front and four pistons in the rear.
While a Z07-equipped Z06 is squarely aimed at buyers who will push the car on a racetrack, there’s nothing inherent in the package that detracts from its every-day drivability. One example of this is the intense development that went into the rocker-panel extensions. “We did a lot of pushing and pulling on the rocker in the wind tunnel, and found that the forward half of the rocker is the most functional part and the back half plays a more minor role,” explains Bennion. “This enabled us to put in a contour there so the customer can get in and out of the car easier. We got the aero benefit we wanted from the rocker without taking anything away from the ease of entry and egress.”
Final Words: Waiting Game
Sadly, C7 Z06 production is still a long way off; deliveries aren’t likely to begin until early 2015. The only reason it was unveiled so early was because of Chevrolet’s desire to introduce the Z06 and C7.R race car simultaneously. (The latter debuted at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, which you can read about on page 82.) The new model is still undergoing final testing, tweaking and certification work. However, the Corvette development team has already achieved one of its principal goals: On its very first outing at GM’s Milford Road Course, the 2015 Z06 was faster than a C6 ZR1. That alone is truly amazing, and a sure sign that we can justifiably expect great things from this new Z06.
While it’s too soon for Chevy to provide pricing details, Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles did provide these encouraging words: “If you could afford the previous Z06s, you’ll be able to afford the new one.”