January 13, 2014
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 & 2015 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jacob Black, PDR photos and video courtesy Chevrolet
Detroit – These Corvette blokes are serious business. Listening to them talk at a pre-show preview of the upcoming 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was an experience. Down in Detroit a month before the North American International Auto Show, there was fire spewing from Tadge Juechter’s eyes as he talked us through the improvements to his team’s latest track weapon.
The head of the Corvette program began at the front – “This grille actually produces more airflow through the radiator than you get with no grille in at all”. Wait, what? So finely stroked are the aerodynamics in this rig that the honeycomb grille actually pushes more air into the engine compartment to cool. That’s neat, it was also something of a happy accident – a designer thought it looked cool, and voila, it worked!
But if you’ve read this far, you probably are already frustrated. “What are they cooling?” you bellow at your screen. Well, it’s an engine. A 6.2L V8, with a supercharger. Oh, and direct injection. Did I mention it also packs 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque? Excited yet?
Fast forward a month and the Z06 was unveiled with its Z07 package, and alongside the C7.R race car that will make its racing debut on January 25 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. As the Corvette press release reads; “Corvette Racing will field two C7.R race cars in 2014, starting later this month at the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26.
“The race kicks off the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – a new series debuting this year after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The C7.R will compete in the GT Le Mans class in 11 races around North America.
“The team is also expected to compete in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – a race Chevrolet and Corvette Racing have won seven times – in the GTE Pro class.”
That is a lot of history. And 635 lb-ft is also a lot of torque. Too much, says Chevrolet for a dual-clutch automated manual gearbox; instead this one will come with a torque-converter eight-speed. Feeling brave? Feeling lucky, punk? Think you can wrestle all that torque? Well then, you may have a seven-speed manual – but be sure to do your leg presses beforehand, that clutch is bound to be heavy.
The chassis is tougher to meet the higher output and sports some neat tricks, including a carbon-fibre transmission tunnel. This piece is designed to improve stiffness and rigidity while lowering weight – the carbon-fibre is about three inches (!) thick.
Speaking of stiffness, the Corvette will come standard with a removable carbon-fibre roof. But as the chassis has been built that way from the ground up, Chevrolet says no structural stiffness is lost in the design. In fact they say the whole car is 20 percent stiffer than the previous model even without the roof panel in. Though, it is worth noting the car is a full 60 percent stiffer than the previous model with the roof panel in its rightful home.
By way of proof, a test mule broke the company’s testing ground record on its first outing, straight out of the box. We’re told that usually takes a lot of tweaking and fettling to achieve.
Suspension-wise you still get the “transverse leaf spring” style rear suspension, with upgraded front suspension.
Officially the setup is descibed as: short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone suspension with cast-aluminum control arms, transverse-mounted composite springs and Magnetic Selective Ride Control. That suspension is available on all trims. The Z07 package adds Ceramic breaks, and stickier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 run-flat tires (compared to the base Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires). The fronts are P285/30ZR19 while the rears are P335/25ZR20s. The Z07 pack also includes ceramic disc brakes over the standard steel rotors. The ceramic discs are larger too, 394 x 36 mm (vs 370 x 24 mm) at the front, 390 x 32 mm (vs 365 x 26 mm) at the rear.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Click image to enlarge
The display model revealed to us had the most aggressive, track-focused, Z07 pack aerokit on it, including an aggressive front air dam with wind traps at the corners, rear cooling vents that use aerodynamic tricks to force air through the fenders via holes in the rear quarter panel and an adjustable rear spoiler. GM had to fashion that out of clear Perspex, as even at its lowest setting the spoiler blocks rear vision.
The race team says their aerodynamic focus has been on reducing drag – the car already provides enough downforce for their needs. Again this is a GM claim, and they also claim it’s the first time the car has had so much downforce out of the box that the race team’s focus has been on drag.
There are two other formats with slightly less aggression on each – so you can drive it on the street.