by: Mike Ginsca
This is arguably America’s most iconic muscle car. It has a history spanning over 60 years and in that time it has been refined and upgraded to what we have today, the latest iteration of the Corvette Z06. Before you say anything, yes I know this is a 2006 model but the 2013 Z06 is exactly the same as this one.
Performance – Powering this brute is a 7.0L (427cu.in.) V8 producing an incredible 505hp without the aid of turbochargers, superchargers, or even modern technologies such as dual overhead cams. This is a very old school engine in the sense that while other manufacturers have moved on to dual overhead cams or variable valve timing, GM has done the opposite and instead of changing with the times, they’ve refined what works. Despite the fact that the V8 engine in this car utilizes the same engine technology as engines from the 1960’s, it has some modern updates such as an all aluminum block & head, hypereutectic pistons, and forged titanium connecting rods. The end result is an engine that produces 85% of its peak torque at just 2000rpms which means that you basically never have to shift gears. If you’ve ever heard of the term “there’s no replacement for displacement” but just never knew what it meant, then when you’re behind the wheel of this car, bury your right foot (regardless of what gear you’re in) to the floor and you’ll instantly be pinned to the seat and then you’ll understand what the term “no replacement for displacement” means.
Now like I’ve said, you never need to change gears in this car because the engine produces so much power and torque but if you do find yourself needing a different gear, don’t despair. Power from the engine goes through a 6-speed manual transmission (this car is also equipped with a short shifter) and onward to a limited slip differential that splits the power down to the wheels. To my surprise the Z06 is actually very easy to start moving and drive. The clutch pedal feels like I’m stepping on a soft pillow rather than a hard rock but the short shifter takes some getting use to because I found myself selecting the wrong gears when shifting.
Massive tires in the front and back help this beast achieve outrageously large G-forces through the corners. The steering is a little on the heavy side in terms of feeling and it doesn’t have the poise as a Porsche 911 but you will be amazed at the speeds that this car can achieve through corners.
Comfort – Unfortunately comfort and interior trim is the one area that Corvette’s have never really done well in. This car does have wide and soft leather & suede seats but the ride is back-breakingly rough and it ruins the comfort. The entire dash is one big piece of black plastic and the buttons that are used to control the heater or cruise control look like they’re from a 5 year olds toy. On the up side, this car does have an Alpine in-dash entertainment system with an amplifier and subwoofer in the back if you get tired of the V8 rumble.
Odds and Ends – This Corvette looks menacing and everyone around it will be staring at it, so if you crave attention, then this is the right car for you. It is however a very wide and low car so in rush hour traffic you’ll constantly be worried about big trucks that pass by you and every time you enter into a parking lot, you have to be cautious of the low front nose. One thing I’m still on the fence about is the Heads Up Display (HUD). It displays the tachometer, oil pressure, lateral G-forces, and your speed. It’s not intrusive when driving but I always found myself still looking further down at the actual dash for my speed and engine rpms and not the HUD. I guess this is something that you get use to with time.
Before driving this car, I was never a fan of American cars because I always thought they were “stuck in the past” and couldn’t keep up with today’s offerings from BMW or Porsche. But after driving the Z06, I had a bigger smile on my face than I did when I test drove the 2013 Porsche 911. I could think about nothing else apart from this Corvette and how it offers supercar performance at a price that any blue collar worker can afford.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.