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Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 48,055
     Price As Tested                                    $ 48,970
     Engine Type               OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 350 cid/5665 cc
     Horsepower                                   385 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               385 @ 4800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  105.5"/62.6"/179.7"
     Transmission                               Six-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3290 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                       P265/40ZR17/ P295/35ZR18
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                         Two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/28/24
     0-60 MPH                                        4.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                         13.0 seconds @ 114.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           165 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The latest Corvette is called the C5 and it's faster, stiffer and more comfortable than any prior model. It culminates with the Corvette Z06, the highest performance 'Vette since the ZR-1 of 1990-95.

OUTSIDE - The latest styling is unmistakably Corvette. It's lower and longer, with a wheelbase that is over eight inches more than the older version. The slippery shape features a crisp, hard-edged flat plane that frames in the tail, a feature that assists in giving it a low 0.29 Cd. There is little styling difference between the Z06 and other new 'Vettes, but unlike some makers that purposely hide the visual cues of their performance versions, the Z06 can be recognized by mesh-covered cooling inlets for the brakes just ahead of the rear tires, more mesh over the twin grilles in the front fascia, unique ten-spoke Speedline wheels and special badging on the front fenders. Z06 comes only as the hardtop version, which is identified by the notchback-look of its tail vs. the coupe's larger, more raked rear window.

INSIDE - The latest model's dashboard design blends a retro '60s Corvette Stingray layout - round, overlapping analog gauges, with the latest in GM ergonomic creature comforts. On Z06 models, those same gauges are highlighted by a checkerboard background and italicized numerals. Weight-saving efforts such as thinner glass and less insulation under the carpets don't do much for containing road nose, but make up for the inconvenience in extra performance. ZO6 comes standard with all-black leather seating, though an optional package adds Torch-Red accents on the seats, lower dash and door panels. The specially-upholstered buckets are as comfortable and hip-hugging as the seats of all of the new Corvettes, but have more side bolstering and unique ZO6 embroidery sewn into the headrests. Although Z06 is nearly a race car, it hasn't been stripped of its amenities. Standard features include power windows, door locks and outside mirrors (also heated), dual zone electronic climate control, variable speed intermittent wipers, a power driver's seat and a high-power Bose-brand stereo.

ON THE ROAD - Power for the ZO6 comes from a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. That's 35 more horses and 35 more lb-ft of twist than the LS1 V8 in the regular 'Vette, and there's more on tap for 2002. To make this happen, Chevy takes the LS1 and applies special high-strength pistons, increases the compression ratio, adds a new high-profile camshaft and stronger valve springs, improves the fuel injectors and adds thin-wall exhaust manifolds, all without sacrificing durability. A titanium exhaust system puts the finishing touches on the car. It can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. A new, lighter automatic transmission is available, although a special six-speed manual is exclusive to the Z06. Active Handling is standard and can be disabled for competitive purposes to help straight-line performance.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Holding it all together is the stiffest, most sophisticated chassis in production Corvette history. At the center of the chassis is a structural center tunnel that is surrounded by hydroformed seamless steel tubing. The suspension is stiffer than standard 'Vettes as well, and features a larger front stabilizer bar, a single, transverse-mounted high-rate rear leaf spring, revised geometry settings and super-grip tires. The ride is taut, yet stable, but much firmer than the ride of the standard model. The large tires with a bigger bite give Z06 extremely crisp turn-in from its Magnasteer rack-and-pinion steering system. Braking is handled with standard Corvette four-wheel discs with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), but the difference is the cool air that is blown in during transit by the side scoops, and brake calipers that are painted red and clearly visible through the open wheels.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, ABS, traction control, 2nd generation Active Handling and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Memory Package, $150; auto-dimming mirrors, $120; bodyside moldings, $75; color-keyed carpets, $25.