2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Review
Another Warrior in the Sports Car Wars
"At my signal, unleash hell." That order, given by Russell Crowe's Maximus, initiated the first battle scene in the movie “Gladiator.” Pressing the throttle to the floor in Chevrolet’s Corvette Z06 signals its 7.0 liter powerplant to unleash its own fury. And though it may sound as if flaming arrows and spears could be shooting from its four tailpipes, the furious roar is the LS7 engine spinning its crankshaft up to 7,000 times each minute, firing eight cylinders while producing a maximum of 505 horsepower. Acceleration forces you back in the seat enough to jerk your hands from the steering wheel, so the Z06 doesn't suit those seeking a laid back, gangsta-style ride. The thrill of constant acceleration is available in the first five gears, and factory tests report a top speed of 198 mph.
Competitors to the Z06 depend on more cylinders, forced induction or exotic valvetrains to create huge horsepower, but the LS7 engine does it the old-fashioned way. It features 427 cubic inches divided among eight cylinders that breathe through two valves activated by pushrods. The simplicity ends there. Lessons learned from the C6.R American Le Mans Series race car such as titanium connecting rods and a dry sump oil system, contribute to maximize power and durability.
Sports cars don’t earn world-class status on acceleration and engine stats alone. The Z06 stops as well as it goes thanks to huge, cross-drilled brake rotors clamped by multi-piston calipers front and rear. It's a combination that scrubs speed quickly and delivers excellent feel without fade.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires conspire with a specially-tuned suspension to create quick turn-in and amazingly flat cornering. Body roll feels non-existent and is substituted with the sensation of lateral g-forces that can be tracked with the multi-function head-up display. Dive and squat are minimal. The performance level is clearly on another plane and best ventured on a track. The standard stability control system should be engaged during at-limit maneuvers unless the hands of an expert are at the wheel.
Phenomenal grip comes at the sacrifice of ride comfort, however. Though never feeling hard-edged or jarring, the suspension rolls over bumps more than it absorbs them, which becomes fatiguing after a while. This most-powerful production Corvette is hardly a daily driver, but smooth clutch and gearshift actions ease driving in a city scenario. The extra-tall sixth gear makes highway cruising comfortable, but the tires are hellaciously noisy over concrete surfaces. Even Al Gore can't complain about the Z06's carbon footprint, as the EPA rates fuel mileage at 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Mixed driving covering 621 miles that included many signals to unleash hell netted 18.4 mpg. Those traits, along with a high level of interior comfort and plenty of luggage room, make the Z06 ideal for weekend getaways.
The Z06 retains its status as the best ultra-high performance value on the road. Who else offers 505 horsepower, race-bred engineering and carbon fiber body panels for $70,000? And for what the mightiest cars from Europe cost, you can buy a Z06 and have enough leftover for a standard Corvette coupe. Never a bad deal.
Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile basic coverage warranty; 3-year/36,000-mile roadside assistance; 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty; 6-year/100,000 body corrosion coverage.
Text and photography: Chuck Arehart