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Detroit show: Chev monsters the Corvette

Hardcore: The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 features a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 mated to either a seven-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmisison with five clutches.

Track-honed 442kW Corvette weighs into Chev’s performance line-up


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14 Jan 2014

GENERAL Motors has stuffed the latest version of its Chevrolet Corvette muscle car with enough supercharged growl under the bonnet to scare a homegrown HSV GTS.

Featuring the same displacement as the HSV engine, the all-new donk under the bonnet of the racetrack-honed, aluminium-bodied Chevrolet Corvette Z06 features lightweighting technology and a more compact supercharger strapped in between the cylinder banks.

The Z06 even features a removable carbon-fibre roof panel.

Under the bonnet, though, is a 6.2-litre “LT4” V8 featuring carbon fibre rocker covers, 442kW of power, and 861Nm of torque. By comparison, the 6.2-litre supercharged HSV GTS spits out 430kW and 740Nm.

But while the HSV engine likes a drink – officially it guzzles an average of 15.3L/100km – the more powerful Corvette’s eight-pot donk can shut down cylinders to save juice.

Also helping is either a seven-speed manual gearbox borrowed from the Stingray or an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters – both of which will fire all that performance at the rear wheels.

The automatic, basically a robotic manual gearbox, is unique in that it has five clutches instead of the normal two developed by other car-makers.

The gearbox’s design, and the use of lightweight metals including magnesium, means the eight-speeder is the same size as the six-speed gearbox currently used in the Corvette, and 4kg lighter.

The Z06 carries a wider stance than its more road-friendly siblings, with the rear tyres stretching an extra 5cm wider under specially plumped guards.

That extra grip is sent to the ground via a specially designed body that increases downforce at high speed, and stopping it all are six-pot Brembos wrapped around big 371mm two-piece rotors hidden behind lightweight 19-inch alloys up front, and four-pot Brembos working on 365mm discs inside 20-inch rims down the rear.

Three different levels of aero package will be available to US buyers, Chevrolet says, including a rear wing with “wickerbills” – small, vertical tabs at the edge of the spoiler that significantly increase downforce.

The US car-maker has not yet revealed performance details for the Z06, although with features such as launch control, a competition setting for the electronic stability control, five different torque and braking settings and an electronic limited slip differential that can help push the Corvette around corners, it should be fairly eyebrow-raising.

According to Mark Reuss, the former managing director of Holden and current GM head of global product development, the Z06 should deliver “levels of performance, technology and design that rival the most exotic supercars in the world”.

“The Z06 leverages the engineering expertise of GM, offering the choice of two world-class transmissions, supercar performance without supercar fuel consumption and technologies that make it easier to fully enjoy the incredible experience of driving it,” he said.

The Corvette will sell alongside the Australian-made Chevrolet SS as part of the Bow Tie brand’s US muscle car line-up.

Holden has promised access to its worldwide portfolio of vehicles once it ceases making the Commodore large car and ute, and Cruze small car range in Australia from 2017.

The Corvette Z06 could potentially sell under the brand’s HSV badge if it is developed for right-hand-drive markets worldwide.

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