The 2023 C8 Corvette Z06 is set to be the wildest Corvette yet, ready to shake the world with the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 engine seen in a production vehicle to date. The claimed sub-3 second 0-60mph time and a top speed of over 200mph are about to take the Corvette brand to uncharted territory in the realm of luxury supercars.
The base model C8, released in 2020, brought a refreshing visual redesign to the Corvette family while simultaneously announcing major new changes like aluminum chassis, a rear mid-mounted engine, and Coilover suspension.
The evolution of the C7 to the C8 may divide buyers in search of a specific experience offered by a particular generation of Corvette. The pleasure of Corvette ownership lies in the generous choice of models spanning nearly 70 years, with scores of different trim levels and special edition cars to choose from.
The Corvette Philosophy
Corvette has blessed driving enthusiasts with stylish and affordable 2-seater sportscars that welcome the driver into a visceral experience.
The evocative Chevy V8, which has appeared as a small block, and big block throughout the years, breathes life into the lightweight platform, singing every crisp note directly to the driver, while close communication to the road is felt with a comfortable ride and responsive handling.
Corvettes were driven by NASA astronauts, movie stars, and everyday people; their excellent value was part of the charm, demonstrating that rare, luxurious materials and overcomplicated design features served no real purpose on a sports car aimed at a broad audience of driving enthusiasts from all backgrounds.
Notable features of the Corvette included a lightweight composite body, a naturally-aspirated V8, and a host of subtle practicalities and optional trim extras that proved the ‘Vette could be enjoyed on a regular basis.
The timeless lines of any Corvette are gorgeous to admire, and the subtle visual enhancements that have crept in over the generations have succeeded in retaining the signature silhouette, which has become increasingly sleek and aerodynamic with the introduction of the C4 and C5 Corvette.
Birth of a star
Today, the Corvette is a globally-popular icon of American sportscar culture, representing Chevrolet’s successes on the road and out on track. But just like every great story – the journey commenced with a slow start on a rocky road.
The first-ever ‘Vette appeared as a glamorous, bewildering concept car in January of 1953, at GM’s Motorama event in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York. When the first production models rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, six months later, the car didn’t receive nearly the same level of attention or excitement from the public.
The use of fiberglass to construct a lightweight body for the Corvette was the beginning of a longstanding tradition. Yet, it initially provided little gain for the car that only produced a mere 150 horsepower from its 3.9l second-gen Blue Flame inline 6-cylinder engine.
Enter the V8
C1 Corvette sales remained sluggish until the wise decision was made to replace the gutless Blue Flame motor with a 4.3l small-block V8 from 1955. With a stronger, healthier V8 engine cutting the 0-60mph time by over 1 second, interest rapidly grew in Chevrolet’s elegant and affordable V8 sportscar.
With the C2 Corvette came optional big-block engines pushing out over 400 horsepower, and convertible and coupe variants of the eye-catching StingRay model. Still, Corvette sales struggled to gain real momentum until 1973, when the release of the all-new C3 Corvette broke sales records for Chevrolet.
The first major redesign since 1963 came with the C4 Corvette in 1983, and again with the C5, in 1997 when things quickly started to look up for Corvette. The C5 proved itself as a capable road-going sportscar and a dominant force in motorsports, claiming victories in both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The C8 Corvette
The evolution of the Corvette has seen eight generations exhibit a variety of chassis and engine configurations.
Between the release of high-performance Z06 and ZR-1 models have been countless wacky and wonderful concept cars, from hydrogen to Wankel power, demonstrating GM’s willingness to broadly experiment with different paths on a quest to discover new ground with the platform.
Now, nearly 70 years since the C1 rolled off the assembly line in 1953, the dream of Zora has finally been realized – the Corvette is now a mid-engine sports car with the latest technology inside the plush new cabin, incredible weight distribution, and impressive handling characteristics that built on Corvette’s successes in motorsport.
The lightweight construction of the body exhibits the most aggressive lines yet, with large air ducts on the front bumper that feed the radiators, and aerodynamic features all over the body that help keep the C8 planted to the road.
With the increased downforce, greater torsional rigidity, and balanced weight distribution, the C8 is not only more capable on the road and track, but it is also perhaps the most user-friendly to date. The steering is light and nimble, and the C8’s new rear mid-engine layout gives the sensation of being elevated to speed, with an enormous punch of naturally-aspirated V8 power coming from behind the driver.
The base C8 Corvette is powered by a 6.2l LT2 cross-plane crank V8 pushing out a formidable 485hp and 465lb/ft of torque, meaning the C8 will achieve 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, and a top speed of 195mph.
The optional Z51 performance package is a must-have for those looking for even more speed and features an electronic limited-slip differential, race-spec adjustable suspension, a sport exhaust system that brings power to 495, and a third radiator to provide additional cooling.
The upcoming 2023 Z06 model ignores supercharging as a means of gaining additional power, instead opting for a bespoke naturally-aspirated 5.5l LT6 flat-plane crank V8, with 670 horsepower, a top speed of over 200mph, and the most delightful exhaust note that howls all the way up to an astonishing 8,600rpm.
Helping the driver manage the mighty LT2 engine is a Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch transmission activated by paddles mounted to the steering column.
The C8 is the first Corvette in a long time to completely drop the manual transmission option, with Chevrolet citing low customer demand and structural concerns as reasons for the single transmission option.
Still, the C8 seems all the better for it, with lightning-fast gear shifts that let the driver effortlessly accelerate out of bends without removing their hands from the steering wheel.
Inside, the C8 has a revolutionary new cockpit, upholstered in leather, microsuede, or a special textile compound, and carbon fiber or aluminum trims available to compliment the style. The driving position feels new and luxurious, with plenty of room in the spacious cabin that centers all the excitement around the driver.
An 8-inch infotainment screen is housed on the artistic central column that separates the driver and passenger seating, allowing the key functions of the car to be accessed and viewed, including climatic control, entertainment, navigation, and live car performance data.
The C8 boasts considerably more space to carry personal items than most other sportscars sharing the mid-mounted engine layout. The C8 is blessed with two storage compartments, one in the rear, which doubles as a housing for the removable roof, and a front trunk that contains adequate space for a small grocery shop or a duffel bag to be stored safely.
The C8 represents unmatched value in the sports car market, with base models starting from a shade over $60,000 MSRP; there isn’t another American or exotic sports car on the road today that gives you so much bang for your buck.
Perhaps for purists, previous iterations of the Corvette that featured a manual transmission, or engine options such as a supercharger could prove to be more enjoyable investments, with the ‘analogue-feel’ of older, less tech-focused sportscars quickly becoming a growing trend among nostalgic Corvette fans.
There are endless options to choose from with a Corvette, and each car has a unique character thanks to a generous pool of special commemorative models, high-performance variants, and rare classics for collectors to cherish for years to come.
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