Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06This isn't a sports car, it's a race car.
-I'll be the first to admit it, I've got a little bit of a prejudice against Corvettes. I'm not the only one. When I see the door of one open, I expect to first see some white patent leather loafers come out, followed by a big old beer belly, some out-of-date Foster Grants, and a bad comb over. Shoot me when that's me. In the meantime, I will give a very fair shake to this bad boy, the 2011 Corvette Z06 while we check the tech. Corvette cabins are tight and meant to be that way. Holds you in place while you're hitting the corners hard. Directly in front of you, one of the best instrument panels in production today. Great, crisp, clear gauges. No obnoxious stylizing to make them look dated a few years from now. That is a great looking driver's instrument panel. Right above that is a head-up display that is exactly the opposite. That's like something I get at the Maker Faire, or I go down to Radio Shack and buy a bunch of diodes and just make it myself. Yeah, the information's cool but, wow, that display is clunky. But I must say that head-up display is standard gear on the Z06, even while things like the navigation head unit remain optional. Speaking of the navigation head unit, I'm so glad to see General Motors has worked out a partnership with Fisher-Price. They clearly have engineered this nav system, and it looks like living hell. That is about the worst resolution I've seen in six years of doing cars at CNET and we've only been doing them for five years. It sucks. With your zoom layout like this, it looks either like a map of roads or one of those stylized neural synapse diagrams you got in 6th grade science class. Take it in a little bit and you can make out that, yes, indeed, that is an image of roads in the world, but I have no idea what world because I can't read the streets because the resolution is awful. Here's your single slot for one optical disc and below that, DVD. That's data DVD for your GPS. Don't get excited. Let's go to your audio and entertainment sources now. Anything beats the nav. Here you've got kind of garden variety stuff, AM/FM, no HD radio, the optical disc I just showed you, iPod, USB that lives here inside the glove box, you can hook up your iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, USB thumb drive, and of course an aux jack if you've got a standard analog mini connection. We've also got the 3LZ package on this car which is basically a seating package. You get what apparently is better leather, perforated stuff going on here. This whole carbon fiber center stack cover is the real deal and that's in the option package. Oh, and that's attractive, a nice, big stitched Corvette on the front. I can live without that, too. Our sound settings reflect the fact that we have optional Bose audio on this car which is a good thing because anything less than that would not overcome the booming thunder out of the rear end of this vehicle. Speaking of which, let's go listen to that. Herein lies the throbbing heart of the beast. This is a 7-liter all aluminum dry-sump V8. Dry sump means the oil doesn't live in a crank case pan down, sloshing around during hard cornering and extended performance driving, it's pumped in under pressure. Pretty high end stuff. It also allows the engine to sit lower in the bay 'cause there's not a big old belly pan hanging there. You gotta make-- oh, and by the way, 7 liters is more than just big as all hell, it's also got some historical reference in the Chevrolet world, that's a 427. All I gotta say, right? This one, by the way, hand made, they all are. You can help do it. That dude right there on that label could have had the owner alongside him for $5800 helping to build this engine. They call that the Corvette experience and then you take delivery of your actual car at the Corvette Museum. Now, whether you help build it, or just write the check and let them do all the dirty work, the result's the same, 0 to 60 in 3.8, while delivering pretty good 15/24 MPG. Our 'Vette has the pricey performance package on top of its Z06-ness. That means a bigger cooling system, 19s in the front, 20s in the back, ceramic brake rotors to haul it down from its 198-mile per hour top speed, and magnetic ride control which offers touring or sport modes. Now, unless you're pressing this car pretty hard, there's no real difference between the two, and the touring mode is firmer than just about anything else you'll drive in your life. Don't even try sport. So what do you with a Z06 in the real world? Without a track, you can't begin to plumb this car's abilities, nor can you make sense of it. This is not that nice of an everyday sporting driver. It's a pain in the ass. It rides like a truck no matter which of these two selective drive modes you're in, it's got all kinds of punishing inputs you don't get on a conventional construction car with the aluminum frame, the carbon fenders, the carbon balsa underpinnings of the floorboards. This car really reacts to the road and you have to wear it as much as you drive it. That's a very active, honestly very exhausting experience, for everyday or everyday sporting use. Don't buy this car if you're not committed. That said, if you do find a piece of open road where you can tip in to it a little bit, it's just an unbelievable amount of raw power. And it comes on in a naturally aspirated fashion, of course, unlike the boost you get from a supercharged Shelby. It's a whole different kind of elasticity. This car is right now direct, like a hammer. A Corvette's kind of a one-car category, too. I don't consider this a sports car. It's honestly overly muscled for that. Sports car is the car you drive at its limits, on reasonable roads. This is more of a race car brought to the street. Okay, let's put a price on Ms. America. 2011 Z06 is gonna base around $75,000. Now, we've got a 3LZ here which is the top trim level. That added about $7200, much better seats, Bose audio, Bluetooth handsfree, some other niceties. Z06 performance package tacked on almost $10,000 more. That's ceramic rotors all around, the 19s and the 20s in the rear, and that magnetic selective ride control. The option to walk away from is the least expensive, that $1800 disaster-in-the-dash nav rig. Just bring a paper map.