Deliveries haven’t even started on the C8 Corvette yet, but we’re already hearing rumors about the weapons-grade Z06 version, and they’re exciting, to say the least.
The latest report comes from our friends over at Motor Trend, and cites a source inside Chevrolet as saying that next generation of what the company calls the “Big Nasty” will come packing a new V8 with twin-turbos, dual-overhead cams, and a flat-plane crank.
From a historical perspective, this would be almost as big of a shift as moving the Corvette to a mid-engine platform, as the cars have always been powered by engines using Chevy’s tried-and-true small-block architecture, which uses pushrods and a camshaft contained in the block to actuate the valves. While the design has proven potent and compact, it also means that the engine can’t rev as high.
Switching to a dual-overhead set up would mean power at the top of the rev range, and also give the Corvette’s big V8 the kind of high-end wail we’re accustomed to hearing from exotic makes like Ferrari and McLaren.
Along with the info from inside the company Motor Trend also points to the engine note of the new C8.R race car — see the video below — as offering more evidence the move is coming:
Key characteristics to listen for: a higher-pitched exhaust note, a consistent exhaust note without the pushrod’s staccato bass line, higher RPM than a pushrod motor typically reaches characterized by longer times between upshifts, and lightning quick downshifts wherein the engine spins up to higher RPM much faster than a pushrod engine.
And continues with an explanation of why the General would want to go in this direction:
As with the move to a mid-engine layout, the switch to a flat-plane crank is all about performance. Consider the advantages. Flat-plane-crank engines have smaller, lighter crankshafts which can spin up faster than cross-plane-crank engines and lose less power to rotational inertia.
The change in firing order also allows for better exhaust scavenging than a cross-plane crank. Exhaust scavenging, the method of pulling the last exhaust gases out of a cylinder faster using reflected pressure waves, improves performance and combustion efficiency—both crucial in racing.
Of course, just because this engine is going into the race machine doesn’t mean it would necessarily find its way to a production car. But given the expense of designing and testing a new mill, and the fact that the Corvette’s class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans requires cars to be production based, it seems to make sense.
At this point, we don’t know exactly when there will be an official announcement about the C8 Z06.
But it’s worth remembering that when Chevy introduced the last generation of the Corvette back in 2013, it was another two years before the Z06 made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. And it makes sense that the company would want to ride the wave of incredible press that’s been coming in since the wraps came off the first mid-engine Corvette before it ups the ante.
That said, we’ll keep you posted about any developments about even hotter versions of America’s Sports Car as soon as we have word. Because if you’re looking to score one, you’ll want to contact your local AutoNation Chevrolet dealer as soon as the news drops. So stay tuned!