The eighth-generation Chevy Corvette has been making waves in the automotive industry since its reveal for the 2020 model year. By adopting a mid-engine design, the C8 ‘Vette dramatically boosted its performance despite having only a marginally more powerful engine. While critics and enthusiasts alike have been awed by the performance of the latest Corvette Stingray, as the standard model is known, they have also been eagerly waiting to see what the high-performance models would bring. Today, the first of those high-performance versions has been unveiled with the 2023 Corvette Z06.
The Z06 name dates all the way back to 1963 and the introduction of the second-generation Corvette. Chevy wanted to build a sports car that could be taken straight from the dealership to the track, including all the performance upgrades drivers demanded as well as a more powerful engine. Today, the 2023 Z06 more than lives up to that legacy, making it the Corvette of choice for serious driving enthusiasts and filling a gap that has existed in the Chevy lineup since the last Z06 in 2019. Four years is a long time to wait, but the latest high-performance ‘Vette has made that wait well worth it.
The Beating Heart of the Beast
The 2019 Corvette Z06 was powered by a supercharged version of the 6.2L V8 that powered the C7 Stingray. That was an impressive engine, pumping out a spectacular 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, but Chevy chose to take a different track with the 2023 Z06. Under the rear engine deck of the new car is a hand-built 5.5L V8 that has nothing in common with the 6.2L V8 in the current Stingray. Now, you might be wondering why the race car has a smaller engine than the street car, but don’t worry – the 5.5L LT6 actually has more horsepower than the supercharged 6.2L LT4 of the last model.
The secret is the new engine’s flat-plane crank design that enables an insane 8,600 rpm redline, delivering 670 horsepower at 8,200 rpm. Now, we won’t get into all the technical details here, but you might have heard that there is one other manufacturer that puts flat-plane crank V8 engines in its sports cars – Ferrari. With the mid-engine C8 Corvette, Chevy announced to the world that it was coming after the European supercar manufacturers, and with the 2023 Z06, it has given America’s sports car a truly exotic powerplant to complement its stunning new looks.
Designed to Dominate
As impressive as the flat-plane crank LT6 is, the new Z06 is far more than simply a Corvette Stingray with a different engine. The car boasts an aggressive widebody design inspired by the C8.R Corvette Racing race car, which recently placed second in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans GT class. The widebody Z06 has a 3.6-inch wider stance than the Stingray, with massive fender flares concealing 345-series Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Opt for the available Z07 Performance Package, and those will be upgraded to barely street-legal Michelin Sport Cup 2 R tires for maximum grip.
On top of the stickier tires, the Z07 Performance Package is easily identified by a more aggressive carbon fiber aero package that includes a large wing, front splitter, and canards. Taken together, these additions produce some 734 pounds of downforce, enabling a mind-bending 1.22 g of grip. However, every Z06 comes fully prepped for the track, featuring upgraded cooling and unique aero, as well as some substantial Brembo brakes. With the 2023 rendition of this Chevy icon, the Corvette has proven once again that it deserves to wear a checkered flag as part of its unique badge.