The C8 ‘Vette has been kind of controversial, huh? First, they changed the location of the engine, then they came for the manuals, and, now, they have completely changed the sound. But, we’re still talking about the pride of America here, the Chevrolet Corvette.
From a V8-powered, fiberglass-bodied budget wannabe supercar, it’s evolved into a fast, track-focused beast, a full-blown bald eagle supercar. Now, with the announcement of the Z06, the Corvette will have almost nothing in common with the car that started it all.
What do I mean? Well, listen, and tell me what comes to mind.
Scary V8 Noises – This Ain’t Your Grandad’s V8
Ferrari, right? Now, not only does the ‘Vette look like an Italian supercar, it sounds like one too thanks to an overhauled 5.5-liter flat-plane V8. Hold on, what the hell is a plane and why do we care about it?
Flat-Planes – Just UnAmerican?
Let’s take a few moments to talk about crankshafts and planes, like the mathematics plane, not the airplane. Please comment below if you want me to talk about actual planes. I love planes. Anyway, this is a huge deal, like Ford switching from the Modular V8 to the Coyote huge deal. Most American V8s use a cross-plane design. That means if you look at Mr. Crankshaft head-on, it looks like the plus sign on your keyboard. It’s a great design, don’t get me wrong, but they can’t rev up super fast. That’s why American V8s always sound low and rumbly.
Most European V8s are flat-plane. That means if you look at Mr. Crankshaft, it’s flat. All on one plane. They’re super balanced and can rev up super fast, and that is what gives you that signature exotic supercar sound. Chevy used one in their Corvette racecar, which is seriously, seriously fast. That’s what wins races.
We didn’t think we’d get a civilian version until the fabled ZR1 trim Corvette or maybe some special edition, but GM did us a solid and just said, “Meh, why not stick this new engine into the Z06? Why not give it 617 horsepower? Sprinkle in some new aero and you may have something that’s not quite as quick as the old C7.”
Big Shoes to Fill – Has GM Lost It?
Look, the C7 had three top trims: the big-engine, touring-focused Grand Sport, which could hit 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. It had a wimpy 460 horsepower, so whatever. The C7 Z06, though, was fast, faster than a C8, which had a lot of people worried. In 2019, the Z06 could hit 60 in under 3 seconds and was pushing 640 horsepower, which is a lot more than a base C8 and even more than the new Z06. Then, of course, there’s the top-trim ZR1. The C7 ZR1 ran a 10-second quarter-mile. It had 750 horsepower!
So, now that GM changed everything up, they moved the engine to the rear. They ditched the manual transmission and they turned the rumbly, beer-gut-and-country-music American V8 into a shouty, tight-pants’d, gin-drinking European V8. And it makes less power and goes slower. The base C8 only makes 490 horsepower, which is more than a base C7. So, you’d expect that C8 Z06 to just blow it out of the water. But, on paper, it makes less power and has a similar 0-to-60 time as the C7 Z06 and can’t even touch the C7 ZR1.
That’s not the whole story, though. The truth is that this new Z06 will probably be the fastest Corvette ever.
The Fastest Corvette Ever – Until the C8 E-Ray, Anyway
We don’t know what the 0-to-60 times for the new Z06 are yet. We don’t know how fast it runs the ring, either. I’m sure we’ll learn that soon enough. What we do know is that the C7 needed a supercharger to climb above 600 horsepower. The C8 doesn’t. That means that, off the line, it should be faster. And we already know that the C8 handles better than the C7. That was the whole point of moving the engine back. Coupled with better tires and better brakes, both confirmed on the C8 Z06, there’s no reason to assume that the new ‘Vette won’t be faster than the old one.
But will it be faster than the C7 ZR1? Personally, I think it will be because there have been people spying on GM and they noticed two cars that GM seems to be testing C8 against: the Ferrari 458 and the Porsche GT2 RS. Both of those cars are seriously fast. The Porsche is especially fast, and it proved itself when it ran the Nurburgring in 6 minutes and 43 seconds, a full 20 seconds faster than the C7 ZR1.
So, apparently, Chevrolet thinks their new track-focused C8 will also run a sub-7-minute time. I’m not saying it did, just that it’s what GM is signaling. If it does run a sub-7-minute time on the ‘Ring, it will be the fastest Corvette ever available to the public (for one-third the price of that same GT2). But, as anyone who’s dealt with buying a C8 already knows, the question you really have to be asking is: can you even get one?
Unavailable – Sorry, You’re Not on the List
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really, really cool that the Corvette exists. It’s easily the cheapest supercar you can buy. And, yes, the new C8 Z06 definitely qualifies as a supercar. But, Chevy is having trouble getting C8s into people’s outstretched hands. There are people that have been on the waitlist for 18 months, and that list is only growing.
How is GM going to give people the Z06 when they can barely make enough base models? That’s going to be a hard sell. They already pushed the release date back and, if you have to wait another year to get it… I’d still wait, honestly.
The new Z06 is going to be one of the fastest cars you can buy without succumbing to the electric devil, which is what Chevy is threatening to do with the Corvette. Spoilers.
The E-Ray – Just No
Have you ever heard of the Ship of Theseus? This isn’t a philosophy channel but skinny of it is basically this: how many parts of a boat can you replace before it’s not the same boat? For instance, the Corvette was a front-engine, American, V8-powered touring car. Then, the Corvette became a mid-engine, American, V8 touring car. Now, the Corvette is a mid-engine, European-style, V8 supercar.
There’s not much Corvette left, and there’s about to be even less because GM has announced that the next Corvette trim will likely have electric parts. The American V8 sports car is going hybrid. And I don’t know how I feel about that. Let me know in the comments how you feel about it; I think I know. While you’re there, check out our “Save the Pistons” t-shirt. Show your petrol allegiance.
Now, unless you’re not paying attention, the C8 isn’t the first supercar going hybrid. And, if the hybrid monsters that preceded it are any indicator, it will be fast. We’re talking about an all-wheel drive, 700-horsepower, hybrid supercar. You know it’s going to shatter records. But I can’t help but feel like it’s not a Corvette.
Wrapping Up – I Don’t Want Change
We are in the future. There’s no denying it. So goes the NSX, so goes the McLarens and the Ferraris, and, soon, so goes the Corvette. We’re going to know in a few days what the truth actually is. And, unlike the WRX, I have a good feeling about this one. It may be the last pure gas-driving experience.