Chevrolet has just launched the C8 Corvette, and the general consensus is that the Bowtie brand has a huge hit on its hands with the mid-engined marvel.
But the current Corvette Stingray model represents just the first stage of the car's performance. There are still models like the Grand Sport, Z06 and ZR1 to come, and there are rumors of new hybrid models in the pipeline as well.
Chevy engineers have just been spotted testing a hotter version of the C8, and based on the product sequence of past Corvette generations we're likely looking at the new Corvette Z06. It should appear in 2021 as a 2022 model.
The prototype may look like previous testers for the Stingray but there's no missing the much wider rear wheels, which hint at the prototype being for a more hardcore model. The rear fenders also appear to be wider than on the Stingray, which makes sense given the wider rubber. On the Stingray, the rear tires max out at 305 millimeters, but the rear tires on the Z06 are expected to max out at 345 mm. We can see on the latest prototype that the front tires, in this case Michelin Sport Cup 2 R tires, already measure a meaty 275 mm.
Inside, we can expect a few elements unique to the Z06. An official sketch from last November teased what appeared to be the Z06's cabin. The layout of the dash matched the design used in the Stingray, but the controls on the steering wheel were different and included a giant red button with “Spec Mode” written on it. There was also the layout of a racetrack in the instrument cluster, and carbon fiber on many of the surfaces instead of the usual leather.
As for what's powering the car, reports from last summer suggest the Z06 will run a naturally aspirated V-8, and a video posted to Facebook by Jim Lill seems to confirm this report. The engine is likely related to the flat-plane-crank, dual-overhead cam 5.5-liter V-8 featured in the C8.R race car. Chevy has confirmed the race car's engine will have a derivative fitted to road cars, and the Z06 is a great place to start.
Peak power is expected to hover around 600 horsepower. Although this is less than the 650 hp of the C7 generation's supercharged V-8, there are plenty of buyers who appreciate naturally aspirated power, even if it means a lower top-end compared to a force-fed mill.
For the power hungry, a twin-turbocharged version of the new V-8 with something closer to 800 hp is expected in the new Corvette ZR1. Sadly, there's no word whether a manual transmission will be offered in any C8 variant, and there's a good chance one won't make it at all, though it's hard not to love Chevy's brilliant 8-speed dual-clutch transmission that debuted in the Stingray.