DETROIT -- With the launch of the new Corvette Stingray last year, Chevy fans had a new performance car to aspire to. However, true fans of the brand knew the best was yet to come. While the new C7 Stingray raised the performance bar well above that of the C6 that came before, it's always the subsequent performance models that really light the world on fire. This year in Detroit the first of those was unveiled, the venerable Z06.
The first Z06 model appeared back in 1963 on the C2, offering better brakes and suspension. This latest Z06 offers much, much more, starting with a new motor: the 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V-8. It's expected to deliver at least 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque. That's a huge jump from the 460 horsepower V-8 in the base car and within spitting distance of the current ZR1's 638 horses.
Indeed, the Z06 is faster around GM's test track than the ZR1, making it one of the fastest cars GM has ever produced. However, thanks to direct injection and cylinder deactivation, it should be a fair bit more frugal than the 21 mpg the ZR1 manages.
While the profile of the upgraded car is the same, look closer and you'll see no shortage of winglets and other aerodynamic appendages designed for delivering more downforce than the stock car. There's a new, far more aggressive carbon fiber hood and adjustable rear spoiler, plus track-ready tweaks like spats to decrease drag around the tires and a wickerbill on the back. The 19-inch wheels house Michelin Pilot Super Sport, and rotate around 14.6-inch Brembo disk brakes up front, 14.4-inchers in the rear.
Overall it looks like the most track-ready Corvette ever, and while it's surely fast on the road, it's sadly going to be slow in getting there. The Z06 won't hit dealers until early 2015 and will be a very hot commodity when it does. Cost? For that we'll have to wait and see.