Preview: 2002 Corvette Z06
|Joining the tightly knit 400-hp club, with five to spare.|
Mar 17, 2005 19:41:50|
16 ( -2 -12.5% )|
The 400-hp fraternityâs a small club. Thereâs your Lamborghinis, your Ferraris, your Dodge Viper, and a very special leaf blower found deep in the inner sanctum at Home Depot.
Count in the Corvette for the 2002 model year. For the second time in its history, the âVette will cross that magic horsepower barrier, with Z06 editions pumping out a tire-shredding 405 hp. (Youâre forgiven if you canât recall the 1990s ZR-1 Vettes that also made 405 hp.) Thatâs 20 more than the top-line âVette made last year, and 55 more than the base coupe and convertible. Torque is also up by 15 lb-ft, to a high of 400 lb-ft.
The numbers speak for themselves. The Vette, says Chevy, will zip to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, a tick quicker than the â01 model, and trip the quarter-mile lights in 12.4 seconds at 116 mph. GM wonât quote a top speed, however.
To maximize the power in the â02 Z06, GM Powertrain engineers took out weight and impedances to airflow throughout the LS6 V-8 engine. The valves now have hollow stems and the air cleaner has a smoother flow pattern. By ditching twin catalytic converters near the exhaust manifold, they shaved a little poundage. The six-speed transmission has been stoutened, too, with thicker clutch discs and stronger damper springs.
Why bother with the incremental upgrade at all? After all, 20 hp means something to a Cavalier, but to a 385-hp V-8 sportscar? The truth is the power was in the plans all along â but wasnât quite ready for the 2001 model, says Sam Winegarden, chief LS6 engineer. âNot having resolved those in the final weeks before â01 production, we agreed to do it as a two-step process,â he says.
Equally subtle upgrades to the suspension, says Chevy, means better handling and ride control. The front anti-roll bar is bigger but made of aluminum for lower weight. The rear leaf spring is stiffer, and camber settings are changed slightly for better control in high-speed maneuvers. Active Handling, a blend of computer and anti-lock braking hardware, continues to assist the Corvette from becoming a part of the roadside landscape.
Inside the Corvette receives a standard head-up display that projects vehicle speed and other vital information on the windshield. A new shade of blue replaces white as one of five colors offered on the Z06, and new spun-aluminum wheels replace the forged aluminum wheels offered up last year. Otherwise the exterior changes are as quiet as the number â405â thatâs being incorporated discreetly into the Z06 logo.
In short drives around a GM-prepared test track, the extra power wasnât readily obvious to us. But Chevy insists that you can really feel it. So mark it on your to-read list: weâll be back to put the â02 Z06 through the paces in a full road test as soon as itâs available.
2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Price: $48,000 (est.)
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8, 405 hp
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Wheelbase: 104.5 in
Length: 179.7 in
Width: 73.6 in
Height: 47.7 in
Curb Weight: 3118 lb
EPA (city/hwy): 19/28 mpg
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, anti-lock brakes
Major standard features: Air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, locks, and mirrors, heated mirrors, traction control, keyless entry with alarm, power sunroof, rear-seat trunk pass-through, rear defroster
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles
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