We’ll start by stating the obvious: The upcoming 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a lot more car than anyone will ever need. This is obvious if you’ve spent any time in the regular seventh-generation Corvette. The base C7 is already a certifiable superhero, as it has a 460-horsepower V8, race-ready handling, and an astoundingly capable 8-speed automatic transmission alongside the standard 7-speed manual. At no point in the driving experience will you find yourself wanting more, but Chevy’s going to offer more anyway — a lot more.
As cool as the previous Z06 was with its otherworldly 7.0-liter, 505-hp V8, it has nothing on the new model. The 2015 Corvette Z06 actually employs a smaller 6.2-liter V8, just like its lesser sibling, but a supercharger pumps up the output to a scarcely believable 650 hp — that’s 41 percent more than the regular engine. The last Z06 only received a 16 percent power bump. Incidentally, the new Z06 also makes 12 more hp than the C6 Corvette ZR1 supercar. Performance estimates aren’t yet available, but any way you slice it, it’s going to be a stupendously fast car.
It’s also an especially mean-looking whip, thanks to bulging fenders, an aggressive aero package and an available fixed rear spoiler that, according to internal testing, generates the most aerodynamic downforce of any GM vehicle ever. The most advanced version of the spoiler, available via the Z07 package, features an adjustable center section for precise track-day tailoring. As Chevrolet points out on the car’s website, these unique styling elements make the new Z06 almost a spitting image of the C7.R race car.
If you think that the C7 Z06 is as punishing as a race car to drive, though, you have the wrong idea. First of all, unlike previous Z06s with fixed roofs, the 2015 Z06 coupe comes standard with a nifty removable roof panel, just like a regular Corvette. If that’s not enough air for you, there’s also a convertible body style, an offering that only existed at the very end of the C6’s run (when the Corvette 427 Convertible, a thinly disguised drop-top Z06, was briefly offered). Also, the fantastic 8-speed automatic transmission mentioned above is now available in this previously manual-only model, which is sure to enhance the car’s appeal, but don’t worry: The 7-speed manual still comes standard, so the C7 Z06 isn’t one of those annoying high-end sports cars that doesn’t offer three pedals and a stick anymore.
Throw in adjustable magnetic dampers with numerous driver-selectable modes, not to mention the ‘Vette’s newfound excellence in the seating department, and you have all the ingredients for a supremely comfortable supercar, but we can’t help coming back to the question of whether this pumped-up Z06 might be overkill. From the base C6 Corvette’s driver’s seat, there were times when the engine felt a little soft at low rpm or the handling cried out for sharper reflexes. The C7 Corvette, however, is so good in every possible way that spending more for the Z06 is no longer an easy decision for enthusiasts to make.
Wait a minute — who are we kidding? When a 650-hp Corvette comes along and starts at under $80,000, that’s always a cause for celebration.
What it means to you: Stay tuned for driving impressions as the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06’s January 2015 debut nears.