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2006 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6

Aching for an Autobahn

    So you want to go fast? You want something that will rule the left lane with an iron fist and fear no competition. If its 0-60 mph time doesn’t start with a 3 then your grandma might be interested but you’re not. You want the latest racing technology and materials so exotic NASA doesn’t even use them. The exhaust note must strike fear into the heart of pedestrians and send enthusiasts’ pulse rates racing. If you expect climate control, a navigation system, change from a $75,000 bill and if you absolutely must blow through the quarter mile in less time than it takes to read this sentence, then there’s really only one choice. You need a Z06.
     The new 7.0-liter LS7 that powers the King Corvette is 427 cubic inches of small-block can-do attitude. Its 505 hp will obliterate all of your lofty goals and beg for more. Consider for a second the numbers a Z06 can post in the right hands. From nothing to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and on through the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds at 125 mph. Keep your foot planted and you can top 198 mph. Stand on the middle pedal at sixty and brace yourself because 6-piston front calipers bite down on 14” rotors and 4-piston rear calipers pinch 13.4” pans to produce stops in a neck-straining 111 feet. Put simply, Z06’s braking power must be experienced to be believed.
     Perhaps more impressive than how easy Z06 gets into triple digits is how docile the super small-block is in cruise mode. The long 6th gear makes lazy cruising effortless and returns 26 miles per gallon on the highway. And in between rips to the 7,000 rpm redline the dual-zone air-conditioning will keep your and your passenger cool and comfortable.
     But should your right foot get heavy again, a simple dip of the throttle will pin you back in the seat and cause your world to blur faster than any college frat party could. A word of advice: Without the aid of the amazingly well-sorted traction control program, dropping the clutch with any throttle at all causes 475 lb-ft of torque to overwhelm the ridiculously wide 325/30ZR rear tires. Fortunately, the racing gurus toiling inside the bow-tie division have gotten really good, dare we say unbeatable, at tuning such systems. Although we weren’t stupid enough to try anything but the standard full-protection mode on public roads, the competition mode will allow skilled drivers to explore the car’s lofty limits while still doing its best to keep anyone from crunching such pretty carbon fiber fenders. We’ve developed a two-part test you can use to determine when fully-disabling the traction control is appropriate. First, ask yourself if the track you’ve rented has plenty of run-off area. If the answer is yes, proceed to the second question, which is usually some variation of “Is my girlfriend watching?”. If the answer is yes, we strongly recommend you resist the temptation to make a fool of yourself. Trust us, the car is plenty potent with all systems left to default.
     Pretty potent would also be an apt description of the exterior modifications. Although they don’t seem that distinguishing in pictures, when a Z06 passes you, you’ll know it was something special. For starters, the fenders are seriously flared in a futile attempt to cover the steamroller tires. The whole car is three inches wider than lesser Vettes and there’s no hiding it. The air scoop at the nose of the car is similarly hard to miss and feeds cold air into the engine bay. We love the aggressive design of the polished aluminum wheels on our test car. GM may charge $1,295 to polish them but everyone agreed they are worth it. The four large exhaust outlets magnify the Z06’s barely muffled mechanical voice so well you’ll find yourself blipping the throttle just to open the mufflers’ valves and hear that glorious sound virtually unrestricted.
     Chevrolet engineers know that a killer engine and aggressive good looks are only part of the recipe for creating a world-class supercar. Extensive chassis modification was undertaken with the goal of simultaneously reducing weight and increasing rigidity. In fact, engineers say the Z06 is so heavily modified as to warrant its chassis completely new. The car’s frame is hydroformed aluminum and the removable targa top roof on standard Corvette coupes is made permanent for added strength. Carbon fiber is used throughout the car in body panels and in the composite floor, which consists of a carbon fiber shell with a balsa wood (strong but extremely light) core. Using a magnesium engine cradle and moving the battery to the trunk also improves the weight distribution.
     It’s clear that no part of the car has been left untouched but the interior, in typical Corvette fashion, is probably the least modified element of the car. Special Z06 specific seats are fitted but we thought the bottom cushion needed more aggressive bolstering. You’ll be looking for all the support you can muster when you start attacking the curves in this car. The passenger seat’s power motor and some sound deadening are burned on the altar of weight savings, but we didn’t miss them. We were a little disappointed in the speaker rattle our car had developed with only a few thousand miles on the clock, but we found a downshift or two made that rattle no match for the LS7.
     We still find it hard to believe how much performance Chevy stuffed into a package that starts under $65,000. There simply is nothing that compares in the price range. Even our fully loaded model finished up at $71,485. As far as we can tell the only downfall is that you can break the double-nickel speed limit in first gear. Yup, this country needs an autobahn.

On Second Thought…
When people see me out and about they always ask about what I am driving and how I like it. Today it is the Chevrolet supercar, the Corvette Z06, and I like it! You can really tell that the Chevy engineers took what really fueled them, passion and horsepower, and poured that into this car. Absent are some of the luxuries like the smooth riding magnetic shocks and removable top, but in their place reside greater power delivery, smoother aerodynamics and sharper handling. But you won’t find boy-racer add-ons on the Z06. Only purposeful, functional items such as the air ducts for the brake cooling and the slight rear lip spoiler and front splitter are found. And it isn’t just about speed either. The body reacts predictably and corners flat, and after an emergency braking test there is no question as to the speed scrubbing ability of this car’s binders. Like a giddy school boy I jumped out of the car grinning from ear to ear and my blood pumped full of adrenaline every time. -JM



The Good:
The engine, the brakes, the chassis, the handling, the style, the….you get the picture.
The Bad:
A speaker grille rattled, we still can’t afford one.
The Verdict:
Chevy takes on the world and for once, nobody is laughing.


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