With the navigation system present, you lose the 6 CD changer, which is part of the 2LZ Preferred Equipment package, in favor of a single disc slot behind the screen. Both the changer and the single disc slot read MP3 CDs, but we found it skipped a lot of tracks on the burned CDs we played. Certain songs wouldn't appear in the track listing, nor would they play when we chose a particular folder, suggesting the CD player is picky when it comes to media.
We also had XM satellite radio included, and found the interface for it and standard broadcast radio particularly nice. Presets are shown in big buttons on the screen, with six presets per page. This head unit connects to a seven-speaker Bose audio system, which has two speakers in each door, two speakers in the cargo area, behind the seats, and a subwoofer. The system sounded pretty good when the car was stationary, but quickly gets overwhelmed by cabin noise when underway.
While driving, there is plenty of noise from the engine, the tires, and the body panels, which rattle a bit. Although by some standards the cabin is luxuriously appointed, Chevrolet opted to keep the weight down by not surrounding the car with sound-dampening materials. For anyone interested in a Corvette Z06, this trade-off is worthwhile.
Under the hood
Measures taken to lighten the car become apparent when you first open the doors. They move easily, without any heaviness. Carbon-fiber front fenders and cabin floor help the Z06 shed about 50 pounds from the standard Corvette's 3,217-pound curb weight.
But the most noticeable performance element of the Corvette Z06 is the massive 7-liter, 505 horsepower LS7 V-8 engine. With 470 pounds-per-foot of torque at 4,800rpm, the naturally aspirated LS7 engine pushes the Corvette to 60mph from a stop in 3.5 seconds. It is a truly singular feeling to mash the accelerator, work through a few gears, and watch as the world starts to fly by at an unbelievable pace.
Given the Corvette Z06's performance, one of its most useful tech features is the heads-up display. This display projects the car's speed and a graphic of an analog tachometer on the front windshield. The display's position is adjustable, so you can put it close to your forward line of sight, or keep it closer to the hood. It has a number of different modes that show additional information, such as oil temperature and lateral G-forces. In practice, we found it works extremely well, and we relied on it to quickly to check our speed.
The six-speed, manual transmission has good gear ratios and we like the short throws on the shifter, but it doesn't feel as precise as the transmission in the Honda S2000. It also has an annoying little feature that skips a few gears when you shift at low RPMs. For example, if you're rolling along in traffic and try to shift from second to third, it will shunt you up to fifth. With its high horsepower, the engine doesn't have a problem moving the car at 1,500rpm in fifth gear; this feature is designed to avoid the gas guzzler tax, as it sort of games the EPA testing. You can also defeat it by running the RPMs up between shifts.
Even with this upshift feature, the Corvette Z06 only gets 14mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway in the revised EPA testing. During our time with the car, we got 14.5mpg. Along with its minimal LEV II emissions rating from the California Air Resources Board, it's not exactly a green car.
But it's also not a car on which you would rack up a lot of miles, as it's not all that practical for commuting or grocery runs. No, the Corvette Z06 is best used on a day off, when you can take it over windy mountain roads. The car's wide tires and low center of gravity contribute to excellent handling, taking us around hard corners at speed effortlessly, with no wheel slip or hops. We were often surprised at the car's speed in a corner, because it didn't feel that fast.
The 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has a base price of $69,175. Our test car came with the 2LZ Preferred Equipment package ($3,485), chrome aluminum wheels ($1,995), and the navigation system ($1,750). With an $825 destination charge, the car priced out to $77,230. Given the performance of the Corvette Z06 and its tech features, the price is very good.
We've reviewed a few two-seaters, such as the Honda S2000 and the Mazda MX-5, but nothing with an engine this large. In technology and engine power, the Corvette Z06 is more akin to the BMW M5 or the Audi A6. But it lacks some of the refined technology and luxury elements of these sedans, ultimately putting the Corvette Z06 in a class by itself.