The Chevrolet Corvette’s switch to a new mid-engined chassis in its latest C8 generation is about to pay dividends for GM as it prepares the first of its high-performance variants to join the current Stingray. The reason it’s about to pay off is because while the last-generation C7 Z06 and ZR1 models were hugely powerful, the outright limitations of their front-engined chassis’ in terms of traction, drivability and cooling were proving to be too big a hurdle to jump for the engineering team to build on for another generation. The new mid-engined chassis should fix those issues.
As a result, it comes as little surprise to see Chevrolet wasting no time getting the first of its high-spec mid-engined Corvettes in order, starting with what’s mooted to be the next-generation Z06, typically the first to arrive after the ‘entry’ model.
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From the heavily camouflaged prototype spotted, benchmarked by an accompanying Porsche 911 GT2 RS no less, the next Corvette Z06 is expected to be powered by a far more powerful iteration of V8, likely utilising a completely different unit with a far higher power figure than the Stingray’s 488bhp.
Which V8 unit Chevrolet decides to use in the Z06 is the question in this scenario, as there are a multitude of options that GM could theoretically employ. Given the Z06’s connection to Chevrolet’s sports car racing activities, we suspect the new Z06 might use the mysterious new V8 being developed for the Corvette C8-R racer, one that differs aurally from the off-beat grumble of Chevrolet’s traditional small blocks with a high-pitched, almost European-sounding shriek typical of a flat-plane crank.
Another option could include a spin-off of the previous Z06’s supercharged LT1 V8, but it is unlikely that GM’s controversial ‘Blackwing’ hot-V 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 will make an appearance after management’s decision to ditch the engine only months after it was debuted in the Cadillac CT6.
Alongside the new powertrain, we also expect the chassis to be given a host of updates, while there should be wider bodywork, in conjunction with a larger footprint, increased cooling and modified aero.
A common complaint with the current C8 Stingray is the lack of wheel offset – that is the point which the wheel is bolted to the wheel hub in relation to the body – making it look shallow and awkward over both axles. It’s possible this has been a conscious decision to fit both Stingray and Z06 models with the same unit to save on the development costs of two rear axles, the Z06 theoretically now just needing to be fitted with wider wheels with some proper offset covered by those swollen wheelarches. Peek behind those wheel covers and you’ll notice there’s offset to spare.
As with the Stingray, the Z06 will only be available with a dual-clutch transmission, but at the sort of performance levels expected a six-speed manual transmission would likely have had a low take-up, as was the case with the previous-generation Z06.
Due to be revealed in 2021 as an American 2022 model, the Z06 could finally become the European supercar killer it’s always threatened to be. With right-hand-drive production plausible, it’ll likely be Europe’s emissions regulations that will govern whether the UK and Europe will be able to experience Chevrolet’s more potent Corvette models with the steering wheel on the correct side.