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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Overview
Lately, it seems as if Chevy re-invents its iconic Corvette just about every year. After introducing an "all-new" Corvette Stingray in 2014, the automaker rolls out an "all-new" 'Vette Z06 for 2015. But this time the "all-new" moniker seems to apply, since the 2015 Corvette marks the beginning of the car's seventh generation. Bearing the Z06 designation and featuring a new supercharged V8 engine, a new 8-speed transmission, a track-inspired aluminum frame, a carbon-fiber hood and a removable carbon-fiber roof panel, the new Corvette enters supercar territory as it pushes the design and performance envelope more than ever before.
Faster than the 2014 Corvette ZR1, the new Corvette Z06 comes equipped with an all-new LT4 6.2-liter supercharged V8, making it the first Z06 with a supercharged powerplant. About an inch taller than the engine it replaces, the new V8 generates an estimated 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque, with final figures, as well as 0-60 times, coming later in the year. The V8 includes direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Chevy's Active Fuel Management system, which shuts off certain cylinders when not needed to help improve fuel economy. The V8 mates to either a 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match, which comes standard, or a new 8-speed automatic with a manual-shift mode and paddle shifters. Chevy has not yet released fuel-economy numbers for the new V8.
Several advanced features distinguish the new LT4 V8 from its predecessors, including stronger aluminum cylinder heads designed to better handle heat, a lightweight titanium intake valve, machined connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons, also designed for greater strength to handle high cylinder pressures. Lighter stainless steel exhaust headers and a dry-sump oiling system with a larger cooler capacity than the ZR1 'Vette's are among the other engine enhancements. In addition, the Eaton supercharger was redesigned to make it more compact and more efficient, with shorter rotors. It now spins at up to 20,000 rpm, which is 5,000 rpm more than the 'Vette's previous unit, resulting in improved power and acceleration.
Both sporty and functional, the Corvette's cutting-edge exterior design works together with the mechanics and chassis to ensure an optimal ride. A wide black-mesh front grille channels cooling air to the engine bay and supercharger, while side vents behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels direct air to the brakes, transmission and differential. In addition, black hood vents allow warmed air to escape the engine compartment. The sculpted carbon-fiber hood and roofline, as well as a front splitter and rear spoiler, help provide downforce at higher speeds. For additional downforce, owners can opt for an available carbon-fiber aero package, which adds a carbon-fiber front splitter with winglets, carbon-fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler. Chevy also offers an available Z07 package, which adds larger winglets to the splitter, as well as a revised rear spoiler with a see-through center section.
Larger wheel flares, when compared to the previous generation, give the new Corvette a wider, more aggressive appearance and allow for larger staggered wheels, which help improve overall grip and stability. The 2015 'Vette now sports 19-inch wheels in the front with a 10-inch width and 20-inch wheels in the rear with a 12-inch width. That's an increase of 1.5 inches of width in the front and 2 inches in the rear over the previous year. Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat tires come standard on the 2015 Corvette. The open wheel design showcases the large Brembo brakes, which measure 14.6 inches in the front and 14.4 inches in the rear. The Z07 package adds larger 15.5-inch and 15.3-inch carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors, which help shave 23 pounds off the Corvette's weight.
The new 'Vette rides on a 106.7-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 176.9 inches. It features a short/long arm double-wishbone suspension in both the front and back, and comes standard with GM's Magnetic Selective Ride Control, which makes adjustments every 10-15 seconds to stiffen the suspension without making the ride too harsh. A Driver Mode Selector allows drivers to choose from 5 performance settings, including Tour, Sport, Track, Eco and Weather. The automaker also includes an electronic limited-slip differential with Sport and Track modes and a Performance Traction Management system with 5 settings for adjusting torque and brakes, accessed through the Track setting. In all, Chevy says, drivers have about 3 dozen different performance and handling settings they can choose from. Owners can also add an available Performance Data Recorder, an industry first, which enables them to create videos of their drives via a windshield-mounted HD camera.
Thanks to a higher level of stiffness due to its aluminum frame, borrowed virtually unchanged from the track-ready Corvette Racing C7.R, the 2015 Corvette now comes equipped for the first time with a removable carbon-fiber roof. Chevy says the Z06 is now 20 percent stiffer than its fixed-roof predecessor with the roof removed and 60 percent stiffer with it on. In addition, the use of carbon fiber for the roof helps lower the vehicle's center of gravity.
Inside, the driver-oriented cabin features new color schemes and a new flat-bottom steering wheel. Owners can choose from two types of seats, including a supportive GT seat or a Competition Sport seat with additional side bolstering. Both types of seats feature magnesium frames, which provide strength as well light weight. In addition, owners can opt for a number of soft-touch interior surfaces, including sueded microfiber and Napa leather, as well as aluminum and carbon fiber.
The StabiliTrak stability control system, along with traction control, comes standard in the Corvette. The stability system integrates with the limited-slip differential and Performance Traction Management systems to ensure optimal stability and handling on all types of road surfaces and at all speeds. Overall, Chevy says, the 2015 Corvette represents the most powerful and track-capable Z06 ever, and a vehicle worthy of the supercar label.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.