Preview: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06Dunno about you, but I’m still getting used to the latest Corvette. They call it the C7, because it’s the seventh Corvette since the original model came out in 1953 — back before most of you all were even born. But in some ways, the C7 is a whole new beginning for the ‘Vette, from its square taillights (they always used to be round) to all those gills and strakes and vents that punctuate its surfaces. It’s an awesome car — you’ll never hear me say otherwise — but it’s not instantly recognizable as a Corvette, and that’s a radical change for a long-timer like me.

There’s one C7 that already looks just right, though, and that’s the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Unlike previous Z06 models, which mostly resembled regular Corvettes, the C7 Z06 looks like a racecar without the decals. Two inches wider in front and three in back, with angry-looking creases and folds all over the place, the new Z06 might have the most presence of any car I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to drive one. In the meantime, let’s take a deep dive into what we know so far.

1. Supercharged 625-horsepower V8

Come again? Supercharged? Yeah, you heard right. The 2015 Z06 will be powered by a 6.2-liter, 625-horsepower V8 with an Eaton supercharger tucked into its vee. For better or worse, the naturally aspirated Z06 is now a thing of the past.

My first instinct was to go with “worse,” because the C6 Z06’s 7.0-liter, 505-horsepower V8 is one of the best motors ever to grace an engine bay. I used to say that it ought to be in every car on the road, and I wasn’t completely kidding.

But then I ran up against a cold hard fact: 505 hp is a lot less than 625. Shoot, 625 is almost as much as the C6 ZR1 put out. Plus, superchargers are much better than turbochargers from a drivability standpoint — there’s no throttle lag when you punch it, which means no waiting around for that crazy quick acceleration. If you’re going to go the forced-induction route, that’s the way to do it.

On second thought, then, put me in the “better” camp. It seems pretty clear that the C7 Z06 is going to be a real upgrade under the hood, though I’ll definitely miss the NASCAR growl of the old Z06’s and 427 Vette’s  7.0-liter V8.

2. Best-Handling Corvette Ever?

I know I haven’t driven one yet, but all signs point to this thing being the most rewarding Corvette to drive, period. It’s got huge rubber, of course — the rears are 335/25 ZR-20s — but more than that, the engineers have made a point of making the C7 Z06 at least somewhat friendly at the limit. In the past, pushing a Z06 hard could be hazardous to your health, but this one’s tweaked chassis, intuitive steering and standard magnetic-ride dampers should make it the most user-friendly version yet. If you’re worried about braking power, don’t be — the pizza-size rotors measure more than 14 inches all around.

3. Got Luxury If You Want It

I remember when the first Z06 came out, the C5 model. The interior of that thing was so tacky, it reminded me of an S-10 pickup truck. But hey, it went fast and sounded great, so people were in a forgiving mood. These days, of course, the standards are much higher, especially at the $75,000-$80,000 price point where the C7 Z06 is expected to start.

Fortunately, the new Z06 starts with the regular C7’s vastly improved interior and gets even better. Extended leather trim is standard, as is a flat-bottom steering wheel that reinforces the car’s close ties with the C7.R racer. Available competition seats should provide even more support than the already decent standard chairs. You know what? They’re even offering an eight-speed automatic transmission in the C7 Z06, that’s how civilized it’s become. Naturally, the standard transmission continues to be a manual — the same seven-speed stick that comes in the regular C7.

Talk Amongst Yourselves2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2

I gotta ask: Is there anyone out there who doesn’t drool at the thought of driving the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06? Is there a better value right now among performance cars? I want to hear what you all think in the comments.

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