We had the opportunity to meet with Kirk Bennion, Corvette Exterior Design Manager, and his team as well as Jordan Lee, Chief Engineer and Program Manager for the Gen 5 Small-Block V-8 program, and also Ryan Vaughn and Kathy Sirvio who spearheaded the interior design and color palate on the 2015 Corvette Z06. This group of C7 Z06 who’s who helped shed some light on several of its unique features and ask the questions you’ve been dying to ask.
1. First off, the correct nomenclature is “Corvette Z06.” The name Stingray is reserved for the Z06’s 460hp little brother.
2. The fenders and fender vents (used to reduce lift), front spoiler, rocker panels, and quarter panels are the body parts that are unique to the Z06.
3. The quarter panels were designed to widen the Z by 40mm per side, and help make it the widest production Corvette ever.
4. The body was carefully designed and tweaked in the wind tunnel, fabricating parts on the spot including the adjustable rear spoiler. They even contemplated uses canards on the front spoiler like the C7.R, but it was not feasible for a production car.
5. Weight was a huge concern, and a factor in the wheel design as well as the powertrain.
6. The LT4 is a lightweight, small, and compact engine – only 1-inch taller at the back than the LT1 (thanks to the supercharger).
7. The compact 1.7L supercharger uses smaller rotors that spin faster than the 2.3L LS9, while using an intercooler that is 23% smaller and 10% better at cooling.
8. The LT4 uses the stout LT1 architecture and enhances it with a stronger crank and (steel) rods, coated and forged pistons, DLC coated wrist pins, titanium intake valves (needed for higher RPM), stronger rotocast 356 alloy cylinder heads, larger oil cooler, bigger fuel pump, and an optimized camshaft.
9. When testing with the stock LT1 camshaft, the LT4 was too torquey. By making an LT4 specific cam, the team was able to optimize top end power.
10. The LT4 boasts a smoother idles than the LS9, thanks to direct injection.
11. Both Active Noise Cancellation and Enhancement is used to reject the bad sounds, and keep the bass-ey engine sounds that are music to our ears.
12. Various heights of people tested the initial interior design, which was based around the 95th percentile. Certain tweaks were made that couldn’t be predicted in modeling, such as the bar behind the head that became a nuisance when wearing a helmet.
13. Two unique interior colors (blue and Dark Steel Grey) are offered.
14. There are 10 exterior colors, two of which are new – Velocity Yellow will be tweaked slightly and Cyclone Gray will be traded for Fusion Gray.
15. While the steering wheel is the same diameter as the Stingray, it has a flat-bottom and uses higher-grade leather with Euro stitching (suede is available).
16. Three different trim levels will be available as well as three levels of aero parts (including the Z07 package).
17. The reason GM chose a 6.2L supercharged combination rather than going the same route as the outgoing Z06 (big cube, naturally aspirated) is that it would have been difficult to achieve a performance goal of over 600hp.
18. With no chassis tuning, the C7 Z06 is already faster than the C6 ZR1 around GM’s Milford road course.
19. An 8-speed transmission was selected to finally give owners the option of an automatic transmission, and that can equal the performance of a DCT (dual clutch transmission) with lightning fast shifts, while being very robust. The Z has not had to rely so heavily on Torque Management, as with other models, to preserve the internals. “This thing is a beast.” Of course for purists, a 7-speed manual trans is also available.
20. A carbon fiber torque tube is used on the C7 Z, which was taken directly from the C7.R program – and has actually been used for years as part of the Corvette Racing program.
21. A fixed roof was not offered because the C7 chassis is stiffer with the roof panel removed than the C6 Z06.
22. Pricing is said to be close to the C6 Z06, making it faster and cheaper than the C6 ZR1.