625 hp Vette Z06 hits 'supercar' performance

The exterior styling of the Z06 keeps the striking, jet fighterlike shape of the Corvette Stingray but has been revamped to accommodate extra power. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

UPDATED: 1/13/14 12:22 pm ET

DETROIT -- Chevrolet is looking to polish its performance-car credentials with the introduction of the 2015 Corvette Z06, the most powerful production car in General Motors' history.

The Z06, which debuted at the auto show here today, will kick out 625 hp and 635 pounds-feet of torque from its 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 engine. That's 37 percent more powerful than the head-snapping '14 Corvette Stingray that was unwrapped here a year ago.

GM introduces what it says are several firsts for the new Z06, which is scheduled to go on sale in early 2015, including a supercharger, an automatic transmission and a removable roof panel.

"The new Z06 delivers levels of performance, technology and design that rival the most exotic supercars in the world," GM North America President Mark Reuss said in a statement.

More aluminum, carbon

GM will offer the choice of a seven-speed manual transmission or a new eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The supercharger, supplied by Eaton Corp., is specially designed to be lightweight and compact to meet the Z06's mass and performance targets.

GM engineers added several elements to the 6.2-liter engine, which was introduced on the '14 Stingray. The Z06 has stronger, aluminum cylinder heads to better handle heat, lightweight titanium intake valves and stronger, forged-aluminum pistons.

The exterior styling keeps the striking, jet fighterlike shape of the Corvette Stingray but was revamped to accommodate all that extra power.

Larger flared fenders house wider wheels (19 inches in front and 20 in the rear) and Michelin Pilot Sport performance tires. Bigger vents boost cooling air to the engine, brakes and transmission.

Better aerodynamics, including a carbon fiber hood with a larger vent, create "unprecedented levels" of down force for better grip during cornering and stability at high speeds, GM said in a statement.

Chevy will offer three levels of aerodynamic packages: the standard Z06, which gets the carbon fiber hood; a carbon fiber "aero" package, which adds a carbon fiber front splitter and rocker panels and a small, vertical tab on the edge of the spoiler; and a Z07 package that adds aviation-style winglets and a see-through center section of the spoiler for track use.

Smile for the camera

The interior mimics that of the Stingray but gets unique color schemes from the Stingray and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Chevy will offer what it says is an industry first performance data recorder, which can record high-definition video of the driver's experience. A camera mounted in the windshield-header trim records the driver's view through the windshield. A cabin microphone captures audio.

The system also features a GPS receiver to track engine speed, gear selection, brake force and other measures. A dedicated SD card slot in the glove box records and transfers the video and data.

GM will build the Z06's aluminum frame at its Bowling Green, Ky., plant. The engine will also be built at that plant and at GM's Tonawanda, N.Y., engine plant.

The first Z06 was first offered in 1963 as a track-oriented package that included better handling and braking and an optional larger fuel tank. Only 199 were made. It was reintroduced in 2001 for the fifth-generation Corvette, the C5.

The October introduction of the '14 Corvette Stingray -- the sports car's seventh generation and its first redesign since the 2005 model year -- sparked big demand during the fourth quarter. Sales in the October-December period nearly tripled from a year earlier, to 9,461 units.

You can reach Mike Colias at autonews@crain.com

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