"Our objectives were to create the most track capable Corvette ever while addressing drivers who do not want to trade off luxury sports car features to achieve that capability."
Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles Discusses the 2015 Z06
by Michael and Ziva Allen
"I was at Sebring and my buddy, a relatively new solo driver, blew by me on the back straight which is almost a mile long. He was driving a Porsche 911 (996) twin turbo. It was not enough that the car comes from the factory with 450 horsepower. This guy took the car to a performance shop and had larger turbochargers installed. The car was reported to have 550 horses. I was driving a garden variety Porsche 911 (996) with a cold air intake and a stainless steel exhaust and headers. Maybe I had 300 horses. Well, we get to the end of the straight and what had become a dot off in the distance began to get larger and larger. Turn 17 at Sebring seems to go on forever and all the way through I was reeling him in until I was on his bumper at the track out point. Aha, I proclaimed (on the inside). I’ve got em. I figured I had momentum coming out of the turn and I would pass him back on the front straight. Well, as soon as he had his car pointing straight again, he took off like a rocket ship. Never saw him again. That was back in 2004 or so. I think he was last spotted exiting the solar system."
If I had me one of these new 2015 Corvette Z06s with the Z07 option package, I don’t believe I would ever get left in the dust like that again. Imagine a track day car with 650 HP and 650 foot pounds of torque available. Combine that with a fast shifting 8 speed paddle shift transmission, huge carbon ceramic brakes, track tires and downforce producing aero dynamic aids. In the hands of an experienced driver, these cars are bound to be setting street car record lap times at tracks all over the world. We asked Monte Doran, our media contact at GM, to get us some answers to our questions about the new monster track day car from Chevy. Here is what Harlan Charles, Corvette Product Manager, had to say about the 2015 Z06.
Q: Describe the design objectives for the new 2015 Z06. Who is the target audience? What were the initial and developing goals for this formidable vehicle?
A: Our objectives were to create the most track capable Corvette ever while addressing drivers who do not want to trade off luxury sports car features to achieve that capability.
Q: What were the challenges faced and how were these addressed by the engineering team?
A: We wanted the most powerful Corvette engine ever built but with the choice of 7-speed manual and 8-speed paddle shift automatic. We wanted to add a removable carbon fiber roof panel to the coupe and for the first time a true Z06 convertible with full power top.
Q: What makes the Z06 suitable for track day enthusiasts?
A: Other than the obvious 650 hp and 650 lb. ft. of torque, we paid a lot of attention to aerodynamic downforce to create a true production downforce car. We also added larger brakes and tires and the Z07 option, which has carbon ceramic brakes and Cup 2 tires.
Q: Describe the testing procedures as the car was developed. Where was it track tested and how did it do?
A: We did a lot of testing at Milford Road course as well as Nürburgring, VIR, Road Atlanta, and more.
Q: “To balance performance and efficiency, the LT4 leverages a trio of advanced technologies – direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and continuously variable valve timing –with a new, more efficient supercharger.” Describe how these three technologies helped to balance performance and efficiency. What other technologies were used to create a balanced platform for the street as well as the track?
A: The LT4 can work in three modes: Supercharged V8, Naturally Aspirated V8, and V4 to optimize track performance with on-road efficiency. There is no gas guzzler tax on the standard Z06. We also have a five way Driver Mode selector that optimizes 12 attributes, depending on the type of driving needed – Weather - Eco – Tour – Sport – Track.
Q: Tell us about the available eight speed, paddle shift, automatic transmission. This is the first Z06 to go automatic. Why was this offered? What advantages resulted? How is it able to handle such high levels of torque? Why not a dual clutch transmission with no torque converter?
A: The 8-speed paddle shift is competitive in shift speeds with the best DCTs while being able to handle the 650 ft. lb. of torque and package in the rear of the Corvette Z06. Acceleration is an incredible sub three second 0-60 and sub 11 second quarter mile. This is the only front engine rear drive sports car that can achieve this.
Q: “When it comes to braking performance, the Z06 can stop from 60 mph in only 99.6 feet. That’s the best braking performance of any production car GM has ever tested. Additionally, the Corvette Z06 achieves 1.2 g in lateral acceleration compared with the Corvette’s previous best 1.13 g.” How were these braking and lateral g numbers achieved?
A: The Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes are state of the art and, combined with the aggressive Z06 chassis and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, these incredible numbers are enabled.
Q: Tell us about the Z07 package.
A: This is the ultimate performance package for Corvette Z06 and includes the Ceramic Brakes, Cup 2 tires, and level 3 aero for true down force.
Q: Tell us about the Performance Data Recorder.
A: This is an industry first technology that allows drivers to record their driving experiences on and off the track. Cosworth Toolbox software is available for detailed analysis to enable drivers to get the most performance out of their Corvette. The system consists of a windshield mounted camera, GPS, and data acquisition that is recorded to an SD card that can be played back on the Corvette’s eight inch display or on a laptop or tablet. Drivers can share their experiences online and compare lap times and data with other enthusiasts. The PDR won three best in show awards as well as technology awards from Popular Mechanics and Autoblog.
Thanks Harlan for filling us in on this exciting and most capable track day candidate. The 2015 Z06 will make anyone feel like a world beater. If you have the cash for the Z06, which starts at $78,995 for the coupe and can easily be optioned up into the six figure range what with sport seats, carbon fiber aero and the Z07 package, we urge you to get lots of seat time with instruction and even a bunch of private coaching. The car can make anyone fast, but to become a great track day driver don’t forget to learn, learn, learn!
Data Recorder at VIR:
Tommy Milner at Road Atlanta: