Chevrolet today announced the return of the Corvette Z06, which goes into production next summer as a 2023 model with an all-new LT6 twin-cam engine the company says is the highest-horsepower naturally aspirated V8 ever used in any production car.
In the Z06, the new 5.5L flat-plane V8 replaces the standard Corvette’s LT2 6.2L pushrod motor in the C8’s mid-mounted engine bay, where it will generate 670 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, rev to 8,600 rpm, and emit a “distinctive, rich exhaust tone” that on its own is the result of two years of engineering work.
Notably, that torque figure is way down from the last-generation C7 Z06’s 650 lb-ft, which came courtesy of a supercharged LT4 6.2L motor. The new engine was part of Chevy’s desire to make the latest Z06 more track-friendly with the increased responsiveness of a naturally aspirated engine; the LT6 also has dry sump lubrication to prevent oil starvation at the car’s handling and braking limits.
Those limits are high: with the optional Z07 performance package, Chevy says lateral grip maxes out at 1.22 g, while braking is handled by carbon ceramic brake rotors measuring 398 mm (15.7 in.) up front and 391 mm (15.4 in.) at the rear. (The base car’s steel brakes are 370 mm (14.6 in.) at the front and 380 mm (15.0 in.) out back.) Both brake packages are housed in 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels.
Chevrolet doesn’t say what kind of acceleration figures it expects the 2023 Corvette Z06 to post; the 2022 Corvette Stingray claims a 2.9-second zero-to-96-km/h time with its LT2 motor.
Chevrolet says the new Z06 shares a lot of its DNA with the C8.R racecar that entered competition in 2020, and will come to market measuring 9.4 cm wider than the standard C8 Stingray to make room for 345-series rear tires and front and rear fascias that incorporate additional ventilation for the Z06’s five heat exchangers.
Other tricks that Chevy says make the Z06 the most track-ready Corvette ever include an adjustable rear spoiler for better high-speed stability, available carbon fibre wheels that cut unsprung weight by 18.6 kg, magnetic ride control 4.0 suspension, and a shorter final drive ratio for the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission for better acceleration.
Chevy says the 2023 Corvette Z06 generates more downforce than the C7 ZR1, but with less aerodynamic drag. And the Z07 package boasts even more downforce, to a total of 333 kg at 299 km/h (more than any previous Corvette) and gets carbon fibre aero bits and a unique magnetic ride control suspension calibration.
Bolstering the Z06’s mechanical and aero tricks is a revised version of the Corvette Stingray’s drive mode selector that adds launch control, a weather mode for the traction control system, a track mode with performance traction management and active handling, and an electronic limited-slip differential.
Chevy says its Bowling Green, KY, factory will start producing the 2023 Corvette Z06 this summer in left- and right-hand drive configurations; the company didn’t discuss pricing or when the car would first be delivered to paying customers.