Vette magazine was recently called upon by the speed evangelists at Chevrolet to give our impressions of the freshened-for-'08 Z06 Corvette. Having enjoyed the time we spent with a base '08 coupe a few months earlier ("Repeat Performance," April '08), we were more than happy to arrange a tte--tte with the latest Z.
Chevrolet's flagship Vette (at the time) came to us carrying a standard price of $70,175. Our tester was well-optioned with the 3LZ Premium Equipment Group ($6,545), U3U Navigation with AM/FM CD ($1,750), and 83U Atomic Orange Metallic paint ($300), bringing its MSRP (with $825 destination charge) to $79,595. The cabin was laid out in the new-for-'08 Sienna leather trim, which made for a striking complement to the car's exterior finish. As is obligatory with all Z06 Corvettes, ours was equipped with the TR6060 six-speed manual transmission mated to a re-engineered shifter-and-linkage package that debuted on the Vette this year.
The single most expensive item in our Z06's inventory of options, the 3LZ package comprises a comprehensive suite of upgrades intended to bring heretofore unimagined levels of style and refinement to the Corvette's interior. It includes the following equipment:
* Side-impact airbags (driver and passenger)
* Steering-wheel-mounted radio controls
* Enhanced acoustic package
* Rear-compartment cargo net and luggage shade
* Memory package
* Heated seats (driver and passenger)
* Universal home remote
* Power telescoping steering column
* Custom, leather-wrapped interior (leather-wrapped upper instrument panel, upper door trim panels, and console storage cover; exclusive leather color and two-tone design, including seat headrest "tonal" crossed-flagembroidery and enhanced armrest padding; special, bias-pattern console trim plate)
As with previous C6 Z06s, the first thing we noticed about the '08 edition was its muscular good looks. The C6, in any trim, makes a bold visual statement, and although we've seen this generation for four model years now, it continues to impress. A pseudo-functional nose scoop (the opening vents a small amount of outside air to the engine compartment, but not to the intake tract) allows even moderately Corvette-savvy onlookers to identify the car as a Z06.
Other exterior styling cues exclusive to the Z include bulging air extractors located behind the front wheels; a downforce-inducing front splitter; wider rear fenders to cover the massive, 325mm tires; and a pair of side-mounted rear-brake-cooling scoops. A tall rear spoiler, Z06-specific wheels, and distinctive model badging complete the look, making the Z a sultry standout for speed-hungry connoisseurs.
But for all the superlatives bestowed upon its sculpted exterior, the true beauty of the Z06 has always lain beneath its hood. The incredible 7.0L (427ci) LS7 is billed as the most powerful Corvette engine ever offered to the public, and our testing bears this out (see sidebar). The LS7 brings 505 horsepower to a 3,132-pound package-a combination that, according to Chevy, delivers a 0-60 performance of 3.7 seconds in First gear, quarter-mile times of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph, and a top speed of 198 mph. (It's actually a little higher, from what we've, um, heard.) The Z accelerates like it's directly wired to the brain's pleasure centers, answering the request for speed instantly, as rapid as thought. It's the Corvette once imaginable only in dreams, now engineered for reality.
As with previous editions, the '08 Z06 made us rethink everything about what a Corvette is supposed to be...and currently is. Like the 427-powered Vettes that preceded it, the LS7 Z transcends the category of mere transportation to lift its driver to a state of euphoria from the moment the start button is engaged. It's a heavy-hitting, no-holds-barred, brute-force monster at full throttle, yet a docile driver at more sedate speeds. And in the right hands, it brings remarkable agility to the art of driving on four wheels. If you're looking for a true muscle machine with the uncompromised performance of an exotic, the Z06 is the car for you. Our final opinion: We'd have to graft two more digits onto each hand just to give it a proper thumbs up.
On The Dyno
In keeping with VETTE test-car protocol, we drove our '08 Z06 over to AntiVenom in Seffner, Florida, to see how it performed on the shop's chassis dyno. The exercise took on special importance in this case, inasmuch as we'd heard rumors that the latest version of the Z is down a bit on power as compared with the '06-'07 models. It isn't.