The Last Action Hero

The 2015 Z06 pushes front-engine Corvette performance to the limit--and occasionally beyond

March 12, 2015
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The Z06 is trying to kill me. In a moment of Icarian hubris, I’ve twisted the Driver Mode Selector from Sport to Track mode, sending the car’s electronic babysitters on lunch break and investing myself with virtually unfettered access to every one of the supercharged LT4 engine’s 650 horses. The folly of this decision soon becomes apparent while accelerating hard out of Spring Mountain’s opening right-hander, a challenge I had previously surmounted with minimal drama thanks to the Sport setting’s less permissive traction-control programming. The car’s rectilinear rump swings left, then right, then left again as I frantically attempt to counter-steer my way back onto something resembling a racing line. Though I ultimately succeed, this is one instance in which I’m grateful to have forgotten to activate the Performance Data Recorder and its telltale camera.

“Comin’ outta that corner a little hot, eh?” asks one of the instructors when I exit the car a few minutes later.

Maybe it’s a good thing the Spring Mountain guys have a penchant for understatement, as the Z06’s formidable specs and towering capabilities constitute an invitation to hyperbolize. Thankfully, as I’ll discover over the course of my day in the desert, this is one car that more than lives up to its often breathless advance billing.

Getting on Track

It’s not surprising that Chevy would select Spring Mountain to host this particular press event. The facilities are top notch, the instructors are thoroughly familiar with the C7 platform, and there’s plenty of sandy runoff area separating overconfident writer-types from a fiscally disastrous interface with the tire wall. In fact, you’ll recall that our own Aaron Jenkins put the 2014 Stingray through its paces here last summer (“Accelerated Learning,” March ’15), an exercise that revealed the standard-issue Corvette to be a deeply capable and forgiving road-course accomplice.

The morning begins with a lead-and-follow session intended to familiarize Spring Mountain neophytes (this author included) with the track layout, while also providing a basic introduction to the Z06’s fearsome performance envelope. Though the pace gradually quickens from bracing to exhilarating

to something just short of a 9/10ths banzai run, our manual, Z07 Performance Package–equipped test car is utterly unfazed by the exercise. The 6.2-liter LT4 summons preposterous velocities, the carbon-ceramic brakes just as ably dispel them, and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires work in conjunction with the Z06-standard electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) to translate every last pound-foot of torque into forward motion. And while Spring Mountain’s relatively short straights mean we’re unlikely to reap the full benefits of the Z07’s finely tuned aerodynamic enhancements, they’re sure to pay dividends on more-expansive courses such as Sebring, VIR and the like.

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