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2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Review and Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Chevrolet, Featured, Test Drives

‘SUPERCAR THRILLS WITH MONEY LEFT IN THE BANK’

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the world’s only two-seat super sports car that costs less than $75,000.00 enabling you to save thousands of dollars to spend while enjoying the thrills of driving a true world-class supercar.  I love Corvette’s and this model is like no other on the market.  With its racing-inspired powertrain and suspension features, along with an aluminum frame and carbon fiber fenders and floor panels, it delivers world-class levels of capability and automotive high-technology.  With a curb weight of just 3,175lbs. it is the lightest, best-balanced Corvette model and one of the worlds most aggressively designed supercars on the market.  It is a blast to drive and increases your heartbeat just looking at it.

Indeed, racing is in the Corvette Z06’s DNA and many owners’ cars see double duty as daily drivers and weekend road course warriors.  It’s what the car was designed for and, compared to other sports cars that cost up to double-triple-or more, the Z06 offers competitive levels of performance at a lower price.

Chevrolet brings significant updates to the Z06 for 2011, with special packages and new options that enhance performance and styling, while also offering great personalization choices: they include new standard Goodyear F1 Supercar Gen 2 tires and a returned dual exhaust system, new Z07 Performance Package, new CFZ Carbon Fiber Package, Z06 Carbon limited-edition model, two new exterior colors, Inferno Orange and Supersonic Blue (my test Z06), optional contrasting-color headlamps in Cyber Gray, Black or Blade Silver, new interior custom color stitching in red, blue or yellow, and a USB port and input jack included with the navigation radio.  The Z07 Performance Package brings greater handling and braking capability to the Z06 with Brembo ceramic brakes, with gray metallic calipers, similar to those offered on the Corvette ZR1, Magnetic Ride Control, Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires, twenty-spoke wheels in competition gray (19X10in. front, 20X12in. rear).  The CFZ Carbon Fiber Package give the Z06 lightweight aero enhancements similar to those found on the ZR1, included in the optional package is a black-painted carbon fiber front splitter, rockers, roof panel and a body-color full-width rear spoiler.  The Z06 Carbon limited-edition model blends the performance features of the Z07 package and the styling cues of the Carbon Fiber package.  In addition to the features included with both new packages, this sinister-looking Z06 also includes a raised carbon fiber hood, black wheels, outside mirrors, and headlamp housings, a special engine cover, a leather and suede interior with body-color stitching, special graphics commemorating 50-years of Le Mans racing, and a special vehicle identification number sequence.  The Z06 Carbon is designed to be the best Corvette for track events, with the chassis and aerodynamic features of the ZR1 complemented by the lower curb weight and balance of the naturally aspirated Z06’s 427cu.in. V8 engine.  Chevrolet will build no more than 500 examples of the Z06 Carbon; it is available in Supersonic Blue or Inferno Orange.

My test Z06 came equipped with the new Supersonic Blue Metallic paint and the 3LZ premium equipment package that includes a custom leather wrapped interior, Bose Premium 7-speaker surround sound system, power telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel with buttons for the audio system and Bluetooth, heated seats, memory for two drivers, universal home remote, power adjustable sport bucket seats, luggage shade and cargo net.  This nicely loaded Z06 kept me happy and thrilled on my rides around LA and through the canyons and mountains north ofMalibu.

And away we go!  The Corvette Z06 is powered by the LS7 7.0 liter, 427cu.in. V8 all-aluminum V8 engine that generates 505hp at 6,300rpm and 470lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm.  Unique features include a racing-style dry-sump oiling system that helps ensure adequate oil pressuring during high-load cornering.  The LS7 engine powers the 3,175 pound package to 0-60mph in a world-class 3.7 seconds in first gear, the ¼ mile in just 11.7 seconds at 125mph and to a top speed of 198mph.  The Tremec TR6060 short-throw, smooth shifting manual is the only transmission offered with the engine.

The Corvette Z06’s powertrain and drivetrain are matched to the LS7’s performance capability.  The light, four-into-one headers discharge into close-coupled catalytic converters and through two-mode mufflers.  The mufflers each feature a vacuum-actuated outlet valve, which controls exhaust noise during low-load operation but opens for maximum power.  When you first push the dash-mounted start button you’ll hear a loud blast of engine fire, then quiets down as you ease on the throttle and make you way down the road.  It is quiet enough when just cruising at low to moderate speeds to enjoy the awesome Bose Surround Sound audio system.  When you mash your foot down on the throttle for some ‘pinned-to-the-back of the seat thrills, it gives out a monstrous engine growl that can be heard from two blocks away.  Wow!  What fun you’ll have behind the wheel-cranking it up to hear the beautiful growl, you mild-mannered at conservative speeds.

At the rear of the LS7 engine, a single-mass flywheel and lightweight, high-capacity clutch channel torque to the rear transaxle.  The TR6060 six-speed manual is strengthened to handle the LS7’s substantial torque load.  It also incorporates a pump that sends transmission fluid to the front radiator for cooling.  Upon its return, the fluid removes additional heat from the differential lube before returning to the transmission.

The six-speed transmission connects to a limited-slip differential, with enlarged ring and pinion gears.  Stronger axle half-shafts with tougher universal joints transmit power to the rear wheels.

All of that power is wasted if the Z06 doesn’t have a solid foundation and world-class suspension system to handle the forward power generated from the LS7 engine.  It does and does it beautifully.  The Z06 has an aluminum body structure for optimum stiffness and light weight for the fixed-roof body style.  Perimeter rails are one-piece hydroformed aluminum members featuring cast suspension nodes, which replace many welded steel components on other Corvette models.  Advanced structural composites featuring carbon-fiber are bonded to the aluminum structure.  The wider front wheelhouses, for example, are carbon composites, and the passenger compartment floors combine carbon-fiber skins with an ultra-lightweight balsa wood core.

The Z06 has a magnesium cradle that serves as the attachment point for the engine and some front suspension components.  Magnesium is lighter than aluminum, yet incredibly strong.  The magnesium cradle helps improve the front-to-rear weight distribution (50/50%), as do carbon-fiber front fenders and wheelhouses.  Engineers also moved the battery from underhood to a position in the rear cargo area, behind one of the rear wheels and out of sight.

The Z06 retains the 105.7 inch wheelbase of other Corvette models, as well as the short-long arm (double-wishbone) fully independent suspension and transverse leaf design but it has its own rear spring and roll stabilizer geometry as well as the cast aluminum upper and lower controls arms, and gas-charged monotube shock absorbers front and rear.  The suspension is firmer than on a regular C6 Corvette and it works harmoniously with the new 19X9.5 inch cast-spun aluminum wheels and the new Goodyear 275/35ZR18 inch front and 19X12 inch cast-spun aluminum wheels with 325/30ZR19 inch F1 Supercar Gen 2 tires in the rear.  With standard traction control, active handling and launch control the Z06 is incredible.  It feels even more like you are glued to the road than using the term ‘riding on rails’.  In heavy load cornering, there wasn’t even a squeal or shutter from the tires.  They just hold you so tight around corners that you would normally slow down upon entering.  I was amazed.  For even more challenge you can shut the traction control system off and let the rear slide from under you to really slice through the curves.  On the skid pan the Z06 pulls 1.0 g’s.  That’s real racecar suspension power.  You can feel the car move left or right with the slightest pull of the steering wheel.  It is a thrilling ride you can’t find in any amusement park!

Complementing the world-class suspension system and large rolling stock is an equally capable world-class four-wheel disc brake system, consisting of 14 inch vented and cross-drilled front rotors and 13.4 inch vented and cross-drilled rear rotors.  The front rotors are acted upon by large, red-painted six-piston calipers that use six individual brake pads.  Individual brake pads are used because they deliver more equalized wear compared to what would otherwise be a pair of very long single-piece pads.  The rear brakes use four-piston calipers with four individual brake pads.  A four-channel ABS system is standard.  From the engine to the 60-0mph 113 foot stopping power of the brakes, the Z06 is world-class sports car bliss in every respect.

Also world-class and breathtaking is the aggressive, low and wide stance that is functional as it is attractive.  The styling highlights include a wide front fascia with a large, forward-facing grille opening, a splitter along the bottom and wheel opening extensions along the sides to provide aerodynamic downforce, a cold-air scoop in front of the hood that integrated an air inlet system for the engine, a trailing edge of the front wheel opening that is radiused to achieve improved drag, but protects the body finish with a tough molding and a large air extractor bearing the Z06 logo, that is behind the wheel, the fixed-roof body style optimizes body rigidity and mass, shaved door handles improve aerodynamic drag, wide rear fenders with flares cover the massive rear tires and a brake cooling scoop in front of the wheels visually balances the fender extractor, a tall rear spoiler houses the CHMSL on the top of the rear fascia, ten-spoke spider-design aluminum wheels, and four large round stainless steel exhaust outlets are located under the bottom between the working diffuser.

The aerodynamics of the Z06’s exterior was shaped by the experiences of the Corvette racing program, where high-speed stability and cornering capability are paramount.  While the race cars use large rear wings, the Z06’s elevated spoiler provides sufficient downforce to balance the road-worthy front splitter without adversely affecting aerodynamic drag.

For all of its race-inspired functionality, the 2011 Z06 is designed to be a daily-drivable, high-performance vehicle.  To that end, comfort and convenience are held to a very high standard.  Standard features not mentioned above include HID headlamps, foglamps, power-adjustable, leather-trimmed sport bucket seats, dual-zone climate control with air filtration, the original head’s-up display with track and g-meter (unbelievable), power windows/power door locks, cruise-control, variable-speed wipers/washers/rear defroster, carbon-fiber bezel around the center stack and on the center console with dual cupholders under an accordion cover, a storage bin with padded armrest, carpeted floor mats, driver information center, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel with buttons for the audio system/Bluetooth, remote trunk release/fuel door, power hatch pull down and an instrument cluster that is fantastic for its large, easy to read 7,000rpm tachometer, 200+mph speedometer, oil pressure/engine coolant temperature/volt meter/fuel gauges, all aluminum foot pedals, properly placed parking brake with brushed aluminum button, ergonomically designed leather/aluminum stick shifter, dual map lamps, dual vanity lighted mirrors, and storage in the glove box and door inserts.

Standard safety features include front and side impact airbags, OnStar directions with automatic airbag deployment response, keyless entry with push button start/stop, and a theft deterrent system with alarm.

The new 2011 Corvette Z06 has it all for supercar power and handling prowess in an aggressive and unique body style like no other supercar on the road.  You can drive it every day and take it to the track on weekends.  With all of these attributes you would think it is priced like other competitive world-class, two-seat sports cars that cost more than $200,000.00 but the Z06 is based priced at an unbelievable low $74,305.00 and my nicely loaded test model was stickered at just $81,775.00.  Amazing, awesome and true!

COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Corvette Z06 $74,375 As-Tested $81,775
  • Engine: 7.0-liter V8 505 horsepower @ 6300 rpm / 470 ft-lbs. torque @ 4800 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 11.0:1
  • Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
  • Total length: 175.6 inches
  • Total width: 75.9 inches
  • Total height: 48.7 inches
  • Headroom: 38 inches
  • Legroom: 43 inches
  • Fuel tank: 18 gallon
  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 15mpg/city, 24mpg/highway
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