The covers have been pulled back on the 2015 Corvette Z06 and C7.R race car, and what can we say, other than we are absolutely head-over-heels in love with these two sexy Chevy sports cars? One is street legal, the other is a pure racing machine, but both are designed to deliver maximum track performance in a stunningly gorgeous vehicle that you can’t help but look twice at.
GM went all-out for the reveal, going so far as to employ an escort of 50 2014 Corvette Stingrays to pace the all-new Z06 to Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. The rumble of the 625+ horsepower supercharged 6.2 liter LT4 engine filled the convention center as the track-tested Z06 rolled onto the stage next to Mark Reuss. Minutes later, the all-new C7.R, its camouflage finally removed, came onto the stage with an engine roar that is the unmistakable battle call of a full-fledged race car.
So where do we start? Well the 6.2 liter LT1 engine in the Z06 gets an integrated 1.7 liter Eaton supercharger, and while GM hasn’t nailed down the power numbers yet, estimates put it at more than 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque. That puts it right on par with the former C6 Corvette ZR1 in terms of power, though Reuss claims that around their test track, the new Z06 is quite a bit faster.
Amazingly, the supercharger can spin up to 20,000 RPM to cram air down into the engine, though GM’s Active Fuel Management helps keep fuel economy in check, as does an all-new transmission. In addition to the 7-speed manual, an all-new 8-speed automatic 8L90 transmission debuted in the Z06, complete with paddle shifters tuned to deliver crisp track gear changes. GM even claims that the new eight-speed shifts eight-one-hundredths of a second faster than the dual-clutch transmission in the Porsche 911 – quite a claim for a “conventional” automatic.
If you still prefer shifting for yourself (and who doesn’t?), the new Z06 with the seven-speed manual gets a new dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch. But some of the biggest changes came to the exterior, where massively flared fenders, side scoops, and spoilers of all sorts adorn the new Corvette Z06. Functional brake cooling ducts send air to massive 14.6-inch steel rotors in the rear, and a new inlet design pushes cool air to the transmission and differential coolers.
Now it starts to get really good. Standard tires for the 2015 Corvette Z06 are P285/30 ZR 19 Michelin Pilot Sport up front and 335/25 ZR 20s out back, though stepping up to the Z07 package has its advantages. In addition to larger, 15.5-inch carbon ceramic brakes from Brembo, you also get Pilot Sport Cup racing tires for gripping the track even better. Also, for the first time ever, you’ll be able to race the Z06 open-top thanks to a removable roof panel that when in use, increases torsional stiffness over the ZR1 by some 60%. Mind = blown.
On the inside you get the awesome, all-new Corvette Stingray interior, with Napa leather-trimmed seats, along with aluminum and carbon-fiber trim throughout. It’s an incredible car from what we’ve seen so far, and we haven’t even started talking about the race version, the C7.R.
Developed alongside the 2015 Corvette Z06, the C7.R is even more powerful, more aerodynamic, and more precise than the street-legal version. A front-leaning radiator and additional air ducts have been added to make the C7.R more streamlined, but engineers did away with NACA ducts, replacing them with ducts on the quarter-panels to cool the brakes.
The C7.R features a 5.5 liter V8 of unspecified power to compete in the 2014 United SportsCar Championship series, with a rear-mounted transmission sending power to the back wheels. By the way, USCC rules limited the displacement of the C7.R’s motor, which is why it’s almost a liter smaller than the street-going Z06. GM claims that in addition to more power and control, they’ve also managed to increase fuel economy some 3%. While that may not seem like a lot, over the course of a 24-hour race, that adds up to a lot fewer pit stops.
That means more time on the track, putting competitors in their place. The Corvette C7.R makes its racing debut at the 24 Hours of Sebring, while the 2015 Corvette Z06 isn’t expected to hit dealer showrooms until early 2015. That’s a while to wait, but well worth it.