2006 Chevrolet Corvette
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 shouldn't be confused with the regular Corvette. The "Z" is the fastest domestic production car and the fastest-ever 'Vette.
That's saying a lot, but here it is—a 505-horsepower extravaganza with a top speed of 196 mph. The 0-60 mph run can take your breath away (0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds) and you can hit 100 mph from a standing start in 7.9 seconds.
Those numbers just illustrate the performance potential of the Z06, which is a steal at $64,890. Merging and passing abilities count in real-world driving, and the Z06 performs those tasks effortlessly.
Main rivals to the Z06 under-$100,000 are the $81,895-$83,145 Dodge Viper and $81,400-$91,400 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
Good Highway Economy
The owners of an old Corvette 427 would be lucky to get 8-12 mpg on 100-plus octane leaded gas.
The icing on the cake is that the Z06 can be driven almost like an economy car in town, if its driver so chooses.
The Z06 has a 427-cubic-inch V8, which seems appropriate because a Corvette with the same size V8 was the fastest American production car in the horsepower-crazy 1960s muscle car decade.
However, a 1960s Corvette lacked the sophisticated suspension and tires to utilize 435 horsepower. It was impossible to effectively transfer that much power to that era's skinny rear tires. And the old 427 Corvette's heavy V8 made it nose-heavy, which hurt handling.
That's not the case with the Z06. It has 50-50 weight distribution because of lighter materials, huge tires and a sophisticated race-bred suspension.
The old Corvette V8 and the Z06 V8s are pushrod engines, without such items as overhead camshafts and four-valve-per-cylinder heads put in many high-performance engines. But Chevy has built millions of pushrod V8s for all types of cars and trucks since it introduced its first ones in 1955 and has vast experience with such a V8.
The 1960s Corvette 427 Sting Ray looked sleek, but its front end began lifting above 100 mph. The far more aerodynamic 2006 Z06 remains planted on roads at speeds above 150 mph.
No Automatic Transmission
However the transmission has a high-effort shifter that works with a heavy clutch with a long throw. A Z06 driver caught in heavy stop-and-go traffic thus soon will become a tired cowboy or cowgirl.
Frankly, the regular $43,690 Corvette hatchback with a lift-off roof panel or $51,390 convertible make more sense than the Z06 hatchback. The regular 'Vette has a smoother ride and also is extremely fast, even with an automatic transmission. It's more comfortable than the Z06, which has no lift-off panel because that would compromise chassis rigidity.
A Blast to Drive
Not that the Z06 is a hairshirt car. It's an oh-my-gosh version of the updated C6 (sixth-generation) Corvette and has all of its comfort, convenience and safety equipment, including keyless access with a push-button starter.
Shares With New Generation Corvette
The Z06 has special badging and wider rear fenders with flares to cover huge tires. Among functional hood and side scoops are brake cooling scoops in front of the rear wheels.
The "Z" also has a beefed-up rear axle, transmission and clutch, along with wider wheels and larger brakes. The front spoiler is deeper, and there is a small rear spoiler to help keep the car stable at high speeds.
The radiator has been enlarged and coolers have been added for every fluid except brake fluid. A special engine oil system with more oil capacity maintains correct oil pressure during extreme cornering.
This is a large, wide 2-seater that doesn't feel especially light or nimble, but Corvette engineers have trimmed fat from it because weight is an enemy of performance and fuel economy. At 3,130 pounds, the Z06 doesn't weigh all that much for a 505-horsepower car.
As with the regular 'Vette, long doors are a pain in tight parking spots, and low seats force occupants to drop in and climb out. The attractive, wide interior has easily read gauges and user-friendly controls. Partly compensating for a small rear window are large outside mirrors.
For most, a regular Corvette is more than fine. But for those who want the ultimate Corvette, the Z06 awaits.