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7 Neat Things about the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/23/2014 Julia LaPalme, Carlos Lago

If you’ve already read our First Test of the Corvette Z06, you know it’s the most powerful car General Motors has ever produced. You also know it’s the second-fastest production car around our figure-eight track, losing only to the Porsche 918 by 0.3 second. You should know all the bold points, but with a car as interesting as the Z06, there are tons of neat little details, too. Here are seven points that didn’t make the story.

You can bounce your head off the hood

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Not that you should, but you could. While walking us through the Z06’s exterior, Tadge Juechter, the car’s chief engineer, punched the hood. Then he pushed hard on the grill on the hood vent. It flexed. He explains these parts have to be compliant, providing a certain amount of deflection should a passerby come in contact with them, to conform to European pedestrian crash safety standards. The fangs on the bottom of the nose are another example. They exist to pass a crash test that simulates a car hitting a pedestrian’s ankles.

Turbos were considered, but wouldn’t fit

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 While peeking around the supercharged LT4, I asked Juechter why they didn’t use turbos. He pointed to an area behind the engine and explained the problem: Each turbo would have to sit as close to the exhaust manifold as possible to spool quickly and meet emissions requirements, but that area is exceptionally tight because of a brace that links the transmission tunnel to the frame rail. Moving or modifying that brace would weaken the structure.

What about putting the turbos between the cylinders and doing a hot vee like the Germans? Doing so introduces many problems downstream. Putting more components above the engine requires a taller hood to clear the European safety standards, and it worsens forward visibility. And all this leads to a higher center of gravity, which is something the Corvette has always tried to avoid. It still uses pushrods for this reason.

Yes, the automatic is faster on a road course

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Not only can Chevrolet’s new eight-speed automatic shift faster than a manual gearbox (pictured), it shifts more often, too. The engineering team found that the automatic Z06 averaged 400 rpm higher per lap than the manual, meaning it uses more of its powerband. Imagine a series of esses or a complex arrangement of corners. In the manual, the Z06’s torque breadth allows you to short shift and concentrate on steering. In the automatic, you can still concentrate on steering, but the transmission will shift to extract the most power out of the engine as possible. The shifts are smooth and well-controlled, too, so they don’t upset the chassis.

Wide-open throttle upshifts are terrific, regardless of transmission

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Someone on the Chevy development team knows how to make an upshift satisfying. Both the auto and manual make wonderful noises during the process, and both have the tactile response that makes driving cars fun. A flat upshift in the auto produces a loud bark, the result of the ECU keeping the throttle open while briefly cutting and reintroducing spark. It’s interesting that shifts are smooth during corners but jolt the car when going straight. Juechter says this is done on purpose, that the energy from the upshift actually helps kick the car forward, slightly improving acceleration. In the manual, Chevy permits no-lift shifts, provided you commit to the throttle and are fast enough on the lever. The shifter itself feels great, and the sound of acceleration resuming is utterly satisfying. Not so satisfying: Repeatedly making the four-seven shift on Road Atlanta’s back straight.

The Z06 is 5 seconds faster around GM’s Milford Road Course than the Z/28

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Around the MRC development track, the Z06, equipped with the Z07 package, stage three aero, and automatic, ran a 1:48 lap time. The Z/28? 1:53. This is nothing more than an attempt to encourage the internal rivalry between Camaro and Corvette engineering teams.

The Z06’s stability makes it faster

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 What I remember most about doing acceleration runs in the ZR1 is that I didn’t want to take a hand off the wheel to shift. The car never moved around during runs, but it always felt like it was just about to. While doing acceleration runs in the new Z06, I found myself one-handing the steering wheel, focusing intently on the tach and hitting shifts. The car’s newfound stability erases the worry of getting things wrong -- and the Z06’s awesome potential means things can go very wrong -- and allows you to concentrate on going faster.

The owner’s manual specifies an alignment setting for track days

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 If you want to know how serious Chevrolet is about the Z06, turn to section 9-7 in the owner’s manual. There you’ll find a note on “racing and competitive driving wheel alignment,” with specified settings below. Just like with the Nissan GT-R, your local dealer can set up your car for track days. These settings apply to standard Corvettes equipped with the Z51 package, too.

“Halfca” ducts

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Notice the interesting shape of the air inlets on the Z06’s quarter panel? Juechter did too, and he didn’t think they were going to work. Alas, wind tunnel testing showed they did. The inlets combine the effects of ram air and a NACA duct, with a tapered shape on one side and a scoop that comes up into the air on the other. I ask Juechter why they don’t call them “halfca” ducts. He doesn’t find the suggestion as clever as I do.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
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