It’s been two years this week since Chevrolet pulled the covers off the 2020 Corvette Stingray, the first version of the American sports car to adopt a mid-engine layout. And, after plenty of rumors — and a pandemic-fueled delay — Chevy is finally confirming that the Corvette Z06 edition is coming.
But not right away. The Z06 won’t arrive in showrooms until the 2023 model year, it turns out, an unusually long wait for the next-up variant in the Corvette line-up. That raises even more questions about if or when other versions of the supercar, including the ZR1 “ultimate” edition, will make it into production.
For now, Chevrolet doesn’t have much to say, a one-paragraph release suggesting, “This fall, the story will continue with the reveal of the all-new 2023 Corvette Z06, the supercar that will put the world on notice.”
You can click here for a full video that includes the distinctive sound of the Z06 engine. It’s not the sort of note you’d normally associate with a Corvette and almost seems to have been designed to serve as a throwdown with Ferrari.
Getting into Ferrari’s face
The shriek, as the powertrain revs up, appears to confirm long-standing expectations the Corvette engineering team has broken with tradition. Rather than just upgrade the Stingray’s current 6.2-liter pushrod V-8, it’s now widely expected that the Z06 will get a new, 5.5-liter DOHC V-8.
It would actually be the second time a DOHC package has been used in the ‘Vette, though it’s been 26 years since one showed up in the ZR-1 take on the Corvette C4, or fourth-generation model. And this time, it is believed that the Z06 engine will utilize a flat-plane crankshaft which will allow it to spin up to some pretty wild speeds, perhaps as much as 9,000 rpm.
The new engine has some key similarities to the package found in the C8.R race car — but won’t face the limit of just 500 horsepower. Expectations are that this beast will top 600 hp.
Based on insider tips and spy shots, the exterior will get a number of tweaks, starting with a large rear wing meant to pin the tail end of the mid-engine sports car to the pavement at extreme speeds.
The “Z” button
Like the Stingray, the Z06 will feature a “Z” button on its steering wheel that a motorist may press to instantly activate track-oriented settings. These include throttle and transmission settings, the Corvette’s suspension and its steering boost, among other things.
Oh, and that transmission will be a tuned version of the 8-speed dual-clutch package currently found in the Corvette Stingray.
The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is expected to start at around $85,000, but could nudge six figures when fully configured.
The question all this triggers is what comes next in the Corvette line-up. Traditionally, the automaker has had a carefully staggered cadence that eventually works all the way up to the ZR1. But there’s more uncertainty than there has been in years about what Chevy has in mind.
The automaker pushed back the launch of the Z06 due to the constraints of the COVID pandemic. But there was also a lengthy strike crippling parent General Motors after the July 2019 debut of the sports car. And, now, shortages of microchips have further delayed production of the base model.
There’s also GM’s accelerating conversion to battery power. The automaker’s CEO Mary Barra has stressed a goal of eliminating gas-powered models by 2035. That’s still a good distance off, but GM is rapidly shifting directions. There have been numerous reports — and a few spy shots — suggesting at least one, and possibly several, hybrid versions of the C8 Corvette could be in the works.
On the flip side, GM President Mark Reuss indicated previously the company is out of the hybrid market. Could there be an exception made for a car like the next ZR1? Before talking about that, Chevy will yet have to fill us in on the full details about the 2023 Corvette Z06. Look for that in the near future.