Chevrolet wowed the automotive world when it unveiled the 2015 Z06 in Detroit last January, but it turns out the brand was only getting started.
Starting in the upcoming model year, the company’s most performance-oriented car ever will also be offered as an open-air model. Just like its hardtop sibling the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 will deliver “at least” 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. It will also launch from 0-60 MPH in 3.5 seconds.
“Only a handful of convertibles in the world bring more than 600 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Even fewer can match the advanced technologies, aerodynamic design, and visceral driving experience of the Z06 Convertible,” product development boss Mark Reuss said.
The is the first time Chevrolet has offered a convertible version of its higher-performing Corvette nameplate. At the end of the C6 life cycle, the brand did offer the limited edition 427, which is a convertible and uses the same 7.0-liter engine, but it isn’t nearly as performance focused as the Z06.
“Until recently it was not possible to create a lightweight, open-roof structure strong enough to cope with the braking, cornering, and acceleration of Corvette’s top performance models,” Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said. “The frame for the Z06 convertible leverages advancements in computer-aided engineering, metallurgy, and manufacturing techniques – many of which were not available just five years ago.”
Chevrolet says the car’s aluminum structure is actually 20 percent stiffer than the old Z06, which means it’s strong enough not to need any structural reinforcement from a roof. That aluminum structure, GM said today, was designed to be functional for the Stingray, Z06 and even the C7.R race car. The brand said during the Corvette’s initial debut that the structure was designed from the start to offer a convertible to prevent performance compromises.
A cloth convertible top serves as a canopy and the brand says only minor structural differences take place as a result. But the Z06 is still a serious performer in convertible form. The beefed-up cooling for its transmission and differential requires additional vents and the Corvette engineering team had to move them for this version to ensure the car would still be able to take a track beating with the same gusto as the hard top.
“Practically every exterior panel serves a functional purpose to meet the performance goals of the Z06,” said Tom Peters, Corvette design director, “The flared fenders accommodate larger, wider wheels and tires for more grip. The larger vents provide more cooling air to the engine, brakes, transmission and differential for increased track capability. The more aggressive aerodynamic package generates true down force for more cornering grip and high-speed stability.”
Just like the coupe, this car is mated to either a seven-speed rev-matching manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic that will also be sold in the 2015 Stingray.
“There’s no trade-off in driveability with the new 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission – it was designed to deliver performance on par with dual-clutch designs, but without sacrificing refinement,” said Bill Goodrich, assistant chief engineer for eight-speed automatic transmissions. “It is also the highest-capacity automatic transmission ever offered in a Chevrolet car.”
But the Z06 in all forms is still a long way from being a reality. The company can’t cite specific performance figures yet because they don’t exist. It still has most of a year’s worth of testing left at GM’s Milford proving grounds before it will be ready to sell.