Let me level with you, I wouldn’t call myself a “Corvette person,” but as I turned the corner and saw the bright yellow Z06, something clicked. Maybe it’s the mullet I currently have carved into my head, but I’m quite smitten with the latest iteration of the legendary American sports car.
Y’all, we aren’t dealing with the base car anymore. The body was widened 3.6” and sports bigger side scoops and larger brake openings in the unique front fascia, all in the name of higher airflow. An additional, front-center mounted radiator brings the total up from 4 to 5 to improve cooling for sustained-speed operation. The Z06 even gets its own bespoke exhaust system to go with its bespoke engine, and it happens to be two pounds lighter than that of the LT2 model. Optional carbon fiber wheels take things even further by reducing 41 pounds of unsprung weight. If you ask me, they also look sick as hell.
The development team required every change to make the car feel more “visceral” - a word they held as gospel. There’s the typical things you’d expect from a higher-performance model, stiffer bushings, quicker shift programming, but the strength of the mid-engine platform’s structural “backbone” allowed engineers to take things further than they ever could have with the C7 generation to create a verifiable supercar. I like to think that Zora Arkus-Duntov, father of the mid-engine Corvette, would be proud.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; the engine. Codenamed “Gemini,” the 5.5-liter LT6 engine in the Z06 is not related to any other engine in the GM portfolio, aside from having eight cylinders in a V-formation. The short-stroke, flat-plane crank is a first for the manufacturer, employing titanium connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons. The result is the fastest engine rev-up response ever for GM, and the most power in a naturally-aspirated V8 production engine for a total of 670 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
All that “go” needs some serious stoppers if you would prefer to keep your Z06 uncrashed and in one piece. This car featured the optional carbon ceramic brakes included with the track-oriented Z07 package, which are also available separately.
The competitive set that the 2023 Z06 was benchmarked against includes the Porsche 911 GT2RS for steering feel, and the Ferrari 458 for engine sound. I didn’t have the pleasure of driving the 2023 Z06, so I can’t speak to the steering, but I think they hit their mark with the sound. Just take a listen to this exhaust clip:
Take it from me, don’t stand eye-level with the exhaust while the engine revs to redline. I asked Trevor, the onsite PR rep, to rev the engine for me while I poised behind the car with iPhone in hand. The exhaust shot through my hair in a way that was obviously very glorious, I think a passerby even shed a tear. An eagle cried out overhead.
Jokes aside, somewhere in the world, your future father-in-law is writing a check for his next Corvette. Rest assured that it will be the best one yet.