I would like to begin by apologizing to the residents on Agoura Road in Westlake Village. It was not my intention to set off those car alarms on that Thursday evening in November. It couldn’t be helped. I had to stab the throttle on the Corvette Z06 to avoid that guy in the Prius who pulled out in front of me. Is it my fault the sudden release of all 650 horses under the hood of the most powerful production Corvette ever resulted in a seismic event that was no doubt detected by the Southern California Earthquake Center?
To say the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is powerful is like saying Neil DeGrasse Tyson is knows a thing or two about the universe; Scarlett Johansson is kind of cute; or Aretha Franklin can hold a tune. You hit the accelerator and the pavement ripples beneath the massive rear tires, small children run for cover, and the earth spins a little faster on its axis. Your vision warps and you feel like you’re entering the matrix as 60 miles per hour comes up in less than three seconds and you pass the quarter mile pole seven seconds later at nearly 130. This car is blisteringly, mind-bogglingly, ungodly quick. It’s so quick that even the electronic nannies that are supposed to keep everything in check can’t always keep up. Stomp on the throttle from a dead stop and the rear end threatens you by waggling unsettlingly before locking in and rocketing forward.
It’s also fast, pulling hard right up to its 200+ mile per hour top speed. Those foolish enough to challenge me in their Mustangs, Porsches, BMWs and Hellcats were quickly dispatched and sent looking for the comfort of a participation trophy. Sorry guys. Not this time. There’s a winner and a loser in this game and since I’m in the Corvette Z06, it’s me.
That’s the part of the story you know about the Z06. 650 horsepower/650 pound-feet of torque. It’s right there on a plaque on the center console. Everyone talks about it. Power, acceleration, speed. Like Donald Trump in a presidential debate the 6.2 Liter Supercharged V8 engine dominates the discussion. But here’s the big secret about this monster Corvette. There’s a lot more to it than its engine.
Yes, the noise the damn thing makes is haunting. Yes, you’ll grin like a deviant as you blast from light to light. Yes, you’ll use petrol at a rate that will earn you a Christmas card from Texaco. But take the Z06 up to the canyons, let the traffic clear and you’ll find, as I did, there’s a damn fine car attached to this engine. The platform, the suspension, the brakes, the interior, they’re all equal to the demands created by the power. They worked beautifully together to make my drive through the twistiest sections in the mountains above Malibu a near religious experience.
The Z06 starts with all the good bits and pieces that have made the base Stingray a favorite among enthusiasts and the automotive press. But it adds so much more. Magnetic ride control, an option on the Stingray is standard on the Z06 as is performance traction management. Both of which are absolutely necessary on this car. Even though it’s designed and built to be the ultimate American track day car, you still should be able to drive it on the street without turning your molars into enamel dust. And with these two options you can.
The 8-speed automatic transmission is mounted at the rear axle to help with weight distribution and puts the power down perfectly – as is evidenced by a 0-60 time of 2.95 seconds when the car is in manual mode using launch control. You can control it with paddle shifters, which came in handy as I was blasting through Topanga Canyon. It may be an old-school planetary gear design, but the shifts are quick the power gets exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
The aero package on the Z06 is there for more than just dramatic effect. The front splitter and rear decklid spoiler generate the downforce necessary to keep the car planted to the pavement when you’re experiencing it at track speeds. And when you’re driving at those speeds you’ll appreciate the power of the carbon ceramic brakes that can haul the 3,600 pound convertible from 60-0 in just 99 feet. The one thing you won’t enjoy is the constant squealing sound the brakes make whenever you tap them at low speeds. I know it’s the penalty you have to pay for all that extra stopping power, but if you’re buying a Z06 and not planning on taking it to the track, do yourself a favor (while saving $7,500) and go with the standard brakes. They’ll stop you quickly enough and you won’t have to apologize every time you roll up to a traffic light.
Inside, the Corvette Z06 gets even better for 2016. My Torch Red convertible was equipped with a jet black interior that featured microfiber sueded seat inserts and steering wheel wrap along with a black carbon fiber instrument panel. It looked great, was comfortable and when I really pushed the car hard, kept me firmly in place. It also includes all of GM’s best electronics and connectivity systems including OnStar, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE wireless hotspot, and more. The 8-inch touchscreen was easy to use, but like all touch screens, becomes hard to read after a while, especially if you’ve been through the drive-thru at In-N-Out a few times.
The Z06 is not for the feint of heart nor the inexperienced. This is a car that demands your full attention and a fair amount of talent to drive well. It’s big, powerful, and loud in the most wonderful and American way possible. It’s refined but it still has its edge. It’s a car that can dominate on any track, but get you to and from work comfortably. It’s a no apologies, no compromise, no nonsense home run. And yes, after spending four days in a red convertible in the LA sunshine, I want one.
2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Base price: $83,400
Price as tested: $110,850
6.2 Liter Supercharged V8
650 lb.-ft. of torque
8-speed automatic transmission
Magnetic Ride Control
Carbon Ceramic Disk Brakes
Standard Performance Data Recorder
Power cloth convertible top with automatic latch
0-60: 2.95 Seconds
Quarter Mile: 10.95 seconds at 127 mph