The adventurist who likes the idea of taming a wild beast
Comparable models in this class:
Mustang SVT Cobra
Iwas asked by my nephew if I would dog-sit fora week. I reluctantly agreed. It's not that I dislike dogs or even that Idislike this dog. I don't. I just remember the last time that Iwatched "Ellie". Ellie is a Pit Bull and, even though she'sgentle, she has the energy and strength of a dog three times her size. Because of the undeserved stigma that these dogs have, we had to keep her on ashort leash when we walked her and she was not happy about it.. In fact, it helped if we used two leashes so my wife could help mehold her in check. We were also able to eliminate our trip to the gym on thosedays and we didn't feel any guilt in doing so.
That is what it was like to drivethe Corvette Z06 on public roads. This is such an energetic car that,if you don't actively hold yourself in check and gingerly feather the controls,you will find yourself constantly nipping at every rearbumper that gets in your way. I found myself getting cramps in my legstrying to keep this awesome power in check. If you're the kind of driver that likes this kind ofpower at your disposal, then I hope that any passenger who rides with you has the same penchantfor excitement as you do, or you're liable to have your head bitten off, and notby a Pit Bull.
This car certainly is exciting todrive. The power that the LS6 engine develops is ferocious. Floorthe accelerator and it will feel like an elephant just sat on your chest, whilethe suspension keeps you planted on the road seemingly disobeying the laws of physics. Stomp on the brakes from any speed and it will feel like that same elephant justgrabbed your rear bumper as you went by and didn't let go.
Sure, there are a few other carsthat have this kind of balanced performance, the Porsche Turbo comes to mind aswell as the BMW Z8 and a couple of the higher priced Ferrari's, but you'll pay at least twice the price forthe privilege of snubbing your nose at the Chevy nameplate. If youwant ferocious and competenton the affordable side of $50,000, this is the only game in town. Evenwhen compared with the $70,000 Viper, this Vette can hold its own. Surethe Viper with 450 HP will take it off the line, but not by much, and the Z06 is better balancedand easier to drive.
Unlike other Corvettes, the Z06 is strictly a performance car with few amenities. It is built on the new coupe body for its lower weight and has a fixed top thatis not removable. Inside the cockpit, you sit very low and need tobe somewhat limber to gracefully get in or out. The seats are comfortable and hold you in place,but aside from that, I'm notcrazy about this interior. Sit in an earlier Corvette and you knew thatyou were in a Vette. The style, character and flair of the past Corvetteinteriors was unmistakable. With thecurrent version, sitting behind the wheel, you could easily mistake it for aCamaro.
The controls on the driver's door have a single rubber like membranethat covers the power window, door lock and mirror buttons, giving the appearance ofbuttons in those shower-safe radios. Definitely not what you would expectin a $50,000 car. On the brighter side (pun intended), there is a light on the bottom of theinside mirror that casts a dim glow on the shifter so that you can see it atnight.
Aroundtown, the ride, due to the FE4 Suspension system,was hard but not punishing. Clutch pedal effort is not heavy at all and the shifter, while a tad notchy,found each of the six forward gears easily and quickly. Power shifting iseasy with straight throws to each gear while the extremely wide torque curvewill allow you to drive around town smoothly without ever having to shift out offourth unless you come to a full stop. Infact, there is a special gate that is activated by a light throttle start infirst gear that forces a 1-4 shift. As you accelerate lightly in first, anindicator light that reads 1-4 shift will illuminate. If you shift out of firstwhile it is lit, the shifter will be forced to move to fourth instead ofsecond. If you continue to accelerate in first, the light will go outafter a certain RPM and allow a 1-2 shift. At first, this forced shift tofourth was annoying, but as I got used to it, I didn't mind it as much and evenappreciated it during some city driving in heavy traffic.
Despite this race-tuned engine, the Z06 was quite easy to drive at low speed. The LS6 engine was smooth and pulled easily even from below 1000 rpm. Another incongruity was that this car got excellent gas mileage (as long as youdrove it like a normal, sane person) with an EPA rating of 19 mpg city & 28hwy. Not something that you find every day in a car with half thisperformance. Another surprising fact is that this is not one of those newengines that relies on dual overhead cams, variable valve timing or four valvesper cylinder. No, this engine has a single camshaft in the center of theblock pushing 2 valves per cylinder through pushrods and rocker arms, just likethe original Chevy V8 back in 1955. Don't get me wrong, this is ahigh-tech engine to be sure with an aluminum block with cast in "windows" which allow better bay-to-bay breathing. Chevy engineers have also incorporated a new composite intake manifold with increased plenum volume and smoother-flowing intake runners.Dozens of other refinements come together to increase volumetric efficiency and maximumrpm.
TheZ06 features a new Titanium Exhaust System which is a first for a mass-productionvehicle. This new exhaust system reduces back-pressure and weighs onlyhalf as much as the stainless steel system found in other Vettes. It looks bettertoo with four 3.5-inch diameter chrome tips peeking out from the center of therear bumper. I am told that much time wasspent tailoring this system to ensure an exhaust note that would be unique to the Z06.
This is a thinly disguised racecar that is equally at home on the racetrack. With its well-balanced acceleration,braking and cornering, many buyers will use it for just that, a race car thatdoesn't need a trailer to get it to and from the track. The Z06 has apower to weight ratio of just 8.13 pounds per horsepower which is better thenthe 1999 Porsche GT3 (8.26), the 2000 Porsche Turbo (8.19), the 2000 Ferrari Modena(8.21) and even the '95 Corvette ZR1 (8.73),
Other features that make this Vette world-class have to do with on-boardcomputer hardware and software refinements, including:
A Second-Generation Active Handling system with Competitive Mode
Rear Brake Stability Control
Sideslip Angle Rate Control
Coefficient of Friction Estimation
Software to allow better coordination with the Traction Control system
Additional features unique to the Z06 are:
Special FE4 Suspension system
Goodyear Eagle F1 SC (Supercar) tires.
Thinner windshield and rear window for reduced weight
New M12 6-Speed Manual Transmission
New air scoops for the rear brakes for better cooling.
There are few options availablefor the Z06 and our tester had then all.
Millennium Yellow Paint$600. Standard colors are White, Black, Silver and Red. The standard interior is available in Black or Red & Black.
Memory Package $150. Allows you to have two presets for the power seats and the power mirrors.
Color-Keyed front floor mats $25. Can someone please tell me why they had to make a $25 pair of floor mats an option in a $50,000 car? Give me a break.
After a week of tearing up the asphaltwith this ticket magnet (no, I didn't get any) I came away longing to jump intoan automatic equipped cruiser and relax, but I also had a grin from ear toear. The Z06 may have drained my energy but I had a good time with it,sort of like the week I spent with my favorite pooch.
If you like fast cars, this Vettewill cut them down to size and make them seem slow in comparison. Give this car the respect it deserves and itwill make you a happy rocket jockey (especially if you have another car at yourdisposal for relaxed day-to-day driving.)