Reviews

2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Road Test

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I was asked by my nephew if I would dog-sit fora week. I reluctantly agreed. It’s not that I dislike dogs or even that I dislike this dog. I don’t. I just remember the last time that I watched “Ellie”. Ellie is a Pit Bull and, even though she’s gentle, 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 a short 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 me hold her in check. We were also able to eliminate our trip to the gym on those days and we didn’t feel any guilt in doing so.

That is what it was like to drive the 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 rear bumper that gets in your way. I found myself getting cramps in my legs trying to keep this awesome power in check. If you’re the kind of driver that likes this kind of power at your disposal, then I hope that any passenger who rides with you has the same penchant for excitement as you do, or you’re liable to have your head bitten off, and not by a Pit Bull.

Category:$40,000 – $60,000 Sports Car
Who should buy this car:The adventurist who likes the idea of taming a wild beast
Comparable models in this class:Mustang SVT Cobra

This car certainly is exciting to drive. The power that the LS6 engine develops is ferocious. Floor the accelerator and it will feel like an elephant just sat on your chest, while the 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 just grabbed your rear bumper as you went by and didn’t let go.

Sure, there are a few other cars that have this kind of balanced performance, the Porsche Turbo comes to mind as well as the BMW Z8 and a couple of the higher priced Ferrari’s, but you’ll pay at least twice the price for the privilege of snubbing your nose at the Chevy nameplate. If you want ferocious and competent on the affordable side of $50,000, this is the only game in town. Even when compared with the $70,000 Viper, this Vette can hold its own. Sure the Viper with 450 HP will take it off the line, but not by much, and the Z06 is better balanced and 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 that is not removable. Inside the cockpit, you sit very low and need to be somewhat limber to gracefully get in or out. The seats are comfortable and hold you in place, but aside from that, I’m not crazy about this interior. Sit in an earlier Corvette and you knew that you were in a Vette. The style, character and flair of the past Corvette interiors was unmistakable. With the current version, sitting behind the wheel, you could easily mistake it for a Camaro.

The controls on the driver’s door have a single rubber like membrane that covers the power window, door lock and mirror buttons, giving the appearance of buttons in those shower-safe radios. Definitely not what you would expect in a $50,000 car. On the brighter side (pun intended), there is a light on the bottom of the inside mirror that casts a dim glow on the shifter so that you can see it at night.

Around town, 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 is easy with straight throws to each gear while the extremely wide torque curve will allow you to drive around town smoothly without ever having to shift out of fourth unless you come to a full stop. In fact, there is a special gate that is activated by a light throttle start in first gear that forces a 1-4 shift. As you accelerate lightly in first, an indicator light that reads 1-4 shift will illuminate. If you shift out of first while it is lit, the shifter will be forced to move to fourth instead of second. If you continue to accelerate in first, the light will go out after a certain RPM and allow a 1-2 shift. At first, this forced shift to fourth was annoying, but as I got used to it, I didn’t mind it as much and even appreciated 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 you drove 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 this performance. Another surprising fact is that this is not one of those new engines that relies on dual overhead cams, variable valve timing or four valves per cylinder. No, this engine has a single camshaft in the center of the block pushing 2 valves per cylinder through pushrods and rocker arms, just like the original Chevy V8 back in 1955. Don’t get me wrong, this is a high-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 maximum rpm.

The Z06 features a new Titanium Exhaust System which is a first for a mass-production vehicle. This new exhaust system reduces back-pressure and weighs only half as much as the stainless steel system found in other Vettes. It looks better too with four 3.5-inch diameter chrome tips peeking out from the center of the rear bumper. I am told that much time was spent 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 that doesn’t need a trailer to get it to and from the track. The Z06 has a power to weight ratio of just 8.13 pounds per horsepower which is better then the 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-board computer hardware and software refinements, including:

Additional features unique to the Z06 are:

There are few options available for the Z06 and our tester had then all.

After a week of tearing up the asphalt with this ticket magnet (no, I didn’t get any) I came away longing to jump into an automatic equipped cruiser and relax, but I also had a grin from ear to ear. 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 Vette will cut them down to size and make them seem slow in comparison. Give this car the respect it deserves and it will make you a happy rocket jockey (especially if you have another car at your disposal for relaxed day-to-day driving.)

Click here for more pictures of the Corvette Z06

How would I improve this car?

Conservative drivers – Forget it, this car is not for you

Sporty drivers – This car can be a handful to drive smoothly, it is also a ticket magnet which means that you have to drive slower than the prevailing traffic in order to stay out of trouble. .

Fast drivers – This car is great for weekend races at the track and you don’t need to trailer it to get it there. The racetrack is the only way to find this cars limits safely. It’s that fast.

Specifications

Engine Type5.7 Liter Sequential Fuel Injection Overhead Valve V8 with Single Camshaft and two valves per cylinder.
Horsepower385 @ 6,000 RPM
Torque385 @ 4,800 RPM
Fuel RecommendedPremium 91 Octane Unleaded.
TransmissionSix Speed Manual
Tires – Standard,Goodyear Eagle F1 SC   P265/40ZR-17 Front, P295/35ZR-18 Rear
Overall Length179.7″
Wheelbase104.5
Height47.7″
Turning Diameter43.3 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight3,130
Fuel Tank18.5 Gals.
Miles Per GallonEPA city 19, hwy 28.
Acceleration 0 to 604.2 Seconds
Top Speed171  (Manufacturer’s Figures)
1/4 mile Acceleration12.6 Secs.   114 MPH   (Manufacturer’s Figures)
Lateral acceleration1.03 G   (Manufacturer’s Figures)
Base Sticker Price$46,855 plus $645 destination charge
As-Tested Price$48,275.00

2001 Corvette Z06 Rear Wheel Drive Sports Car
Standard Equipment

Major Available Options

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Author

Charles Ofria

Automotive Expert

Charles Ofria was an automotive journalist who was active in the automotive industry for over 40 years. During the '70s, he was owner-operator of Ofria Automotive, a thriving auto repair shop in Brooklyn, NY. During that time he became involved with auto mechanic training when he set up courses to help prepare mechanics to take the then new A.S.E. (Automotive Service Excellence) mechanic certification exams.

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