The new Z06’s 5.5-liter V8 engine is much more powerful than the 490 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 in the base Corvette Stingray. Unlike the last generation of Corvette Z06, which went out of production in 2019, the new Z06 doesn’t use a supercharger to push air into the engine and boost its power output. GM is calling this new engine the most powerful “naturally aspirated” V8 ever offered in any production car.
To gain its extra power new Z06 engine relies on lightweight engineering enabling the engine to run at very high speeds. The new Z06 engine’s redline, the limit of how fast it can run, is 8,600 revolutions per minute with maximum power coming at a screaming 8,400 RPM. The base Corvette Stingray produces its maximum power at just 6,450 RPM.
In particular, the crankshaft in the Z06 engine — the shaft the engine’s eight pistons push on to create power — has a simplified, lightweight design allowing those faster speeds. Called a “flat plane crank,” it gives the engine a distinctive raspy sound. Engineers spent two years working to perfect the sound coming out of the Z06’s exhaust pipes, according to GM.
The new Z06 is based on the current Corvette model which, unlike past Corvettes, has its engine behind the seats instead of up front under the hood. The reason for making that radical design change, GM engineers have said, was so that the car could better handle higher power output. For one thing, moving the engine behind the driver puts more weight on the back tires allowing for better traction, especially when accelerating.
The new Z06 is 3.6 inches wider than the Stingray to allow for its wider tires. The extra width also allows for more air to flow through its large side air vents. The car’s front end was also designed to allow for more to flow in there for cooling. A large rear wing also provides more downforce at high speeds to press the rear tires down onto the pavement.
Like the Corvette Stingray, the Z06 will not be available with a manual transmission. Instead, it will be available only with fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. There will be both hard-top and a convertible version with folding hard roof.
The first Corvette Z06 came out in 1963 as a special option package intended for racing. It had a 360 horsepower engine. At the time, the option wasn’t advertised and only 199 were made. The Z06 package wasn’t offered again until 2001. Today, an original 1963 Corvette Z06 in excellent condition can be worth over $450,000, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector car prices.