There’s more to the Z07 package than a fancy number and some secret tuningby Robert Moore, on
Fresh from the release of the all-new Chevy C8 Corvette Z06, we’ve learned some very interesting detail about the Z07 package and how it changes the behavior of the Vette on the street and the track. Not only that but how the Z07 package is different and why the tire pressure strategy you’ve memorized is probably wrong now. This is a rundown of the secrets of the C8 Corvette Z06’s new Z07 Performance Package.
C8 Corvette Z07 Package Suspension – A Brief Rundown
- RPO: Regular Production Option
- FEx Suspension: GM uses FE1, FE2, etc to define various iterations of its current suspension design.
If you purchased a base C8 Corvette Stingray, then your car probably has FE1 suspension. This is the base suspension system, but if you opted for the magnetorheological shocks, it would be marked on your order sheet as FE2. The base Z51 comes with FE3 suspension, while the Z51 with Magnaride (MR) damping comes with FE4. If you buy the base Z06, you’ll get Chevy’s FE6 suspension system but by opting for the Z07 package that we’re diving into today and you’ll get FE7 specification. Both FE6 and FE7 include Magnetic Selective Ride Control 4.0 shocks, but the Z07 package (FE7 suspension code) takes it up a notch with revised spring and anti-roll bar rates (think more dynamic handling) and those cool carbon-ceramic brakes.
What about FE5? FE5 is an unused RPO code at this time, so technically, it doesn’t exist.
2023 Corvette Z06 and Z07 Chassis and Suspension Tuning
When the engineers started working on the C8 Z06, the plan was for it to sit somewhere between the Z51 and Z07 in terms of ride: quality, comfort, spring rate, etc. This wasn’t exactly possible, though, thanks to the C8’s impressively stiff chassis and the wide damping bandwidth of the MR shocks. Thanks to this, Tour mode’s ride quality is able to tolerate higher front spring rates i.e. stiffer front springs.
Thanks to the stiffer springs up front, the Z06 is capable of the more immediate steering response that is – according to the engineers – critical for both Sport and Track driving modes. Upgrading to the Z07 performance package means the spring rate is increased just a bit, but the only real purpose of the Z07 package being stiffer is to help cope with the increased downforce developed by its enhanced aerodynamics. The Z06 and Z07 actually share the same MR damping hardware, right down to the bleed holes, fluid, and tube diameter. The only thing that changes as you step up from the FE4 to FE6 and FE7 suspension is the control strategy. The suspension system can even react so quickly that GM doesn’t have to make any tuning changes when adding in the lighter (by 41 pounds) carbon wheels!
In the end, the Z06’s ride frequency is about 35-percent stiffer than that of the C8 Z51. Opting for the Z07 performance package increases stiffness further by about 8-percent. And, regardless of whether you have the base Z06 or opt for the Z07 package, the car will still feel like it’s rotating from behind during heavy maneuvers with overall handling being split almost perfectly between the front and rear end.
The Corvette Z06’s Brakes Are Huge, But the Z07 Package Amplifies That
If you bought the Corvette Z51 last year, then your car has four-piston calipers in the front and rear with the rotors measuring 13.6- and 13.3-inches, respectively. The C8 Z06’s brakes, on the other hand, are vastly improved. The front end of the Z06 features six-piston calipers with 14.6-inch rotors (that’s up one inch) while the rear features a similar four-piston caliper but 15-inch steel brake rotors (up 1.7-inches). Upgrading to the Z07 package will give you carbon-ceramic discs that measure 15.7-inches in the front (up 1.1-inches from the Z06) and 15.4 inches in the rear (up 0.4 inches).
If You Want to Go All Out, Get the Carbon Revolution Wheels
The all-aluminum wheels that come standard on the Z06 are great. They measure 10.0 x 20.0 in the front and 13.0 x 21 in the rear – basically a size up from the Z51’s front wheels at 8.5 x 19-inch and 11.0 x 20-inch rear wheels. The problem with the Z06’s base aluminum wheels is that they are heavy. Opting for the Carbon Revolution wheels that look downright cool will shave some serious weight – about 10 pounds per piece. In the end, opting for these wheels will reduce your total unsprung weight by 41 pounds. These wheels are optional, though, even with the Z07 package.
Opting for the wheels ultimately leads to reduced rotational inertia while turning from left to right or while spinning. The wheels alone will help reduce your lap time on most mainstream tracks by 1-1.5 seconds. Unfortunately, these wheels also mean that the electric power steering and ABS control strategy has to be revised by GM (ultimately why they are upgrade only, and not part of the Z07 package, by the way). According to GM, these wheels have a layer of material around the rim to shield the carbon fiber from the heat of the brakes, even under heavy load, and they are far more durable than the base aluminum wheels. In the end, they dealt with GM’s pothole tests, and when they fail they don’t splinter catastrophically.
Tire Size and Pressure Adjustments – Important
Buying the C8 Corvette Z06 means that you also get bigger tires. It comes with 275/30R20-inch tires in the front and 345/25R21 tires in the rear. What’s more important, though, is the type of tire you get. If you get the base Z06, you’ll get Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires – a damn good tire, no doubt – but the Z07 package upgrades you to Pilot Sport Cup 2R tires that not only represent a massive step forward in technology but were actually designed specifically for the Z07 package. At many tracks, these tires have apparently come into their prime after at least 11 laps, with the last lap of a 12-lap session ultimately being the fastest.
Along with the new Z06 comes some changes to your tire pressure strategy as well. If you know Corvette, then you know that you should run your Z06’s tires at 30 psi in the front and rear. This, however, is no longer true if you opt for the Z07 package. With the Z07 package and street use, you need to run 35 PSI in the front and rear. This pressure changes your contact patch to the road to slightly ovoid as opposed to rectangular and ultimately improves wet traction. If you’re going to the track, you need to run a cold setting of 24 PSI in the front and rear. GM has yet to release sustained long-term pressure requirements, but there will be a third pressure strategy specifically for long-track usage (think Autobahn and Nürburgring, for example).
The Corvette Z06 is Nürburgring Ready
Chevy actually spent quite a bit of time with the new Z06 at the Nürburgring and, in fact, it ran into quite a few problems early on, including but not limited to tires contacting the wheel liners and damage to the Z07 package’s underbody aero fences. In the more recent testing runs, the Z06 with the Z07 package performed admirably well. Chevy couldn’t get an official lap time due to some horrendous crashes during their last trip in August, but engineers walked away from the experience without having to make any major adjustments. The new stiffer springs and MR control strategy proved to be very capable of handling the high-speed aero downforce, even for extended periods of time.
In the end, the base C8 Corvette (with the Z51 package) was already considered on par with some of the lesser supercars on the planet. Now, with the introduction of the Z06, the C8 Corvette finds itself sitting with a higher class of cars from brands like Ferrari, McLaren, and Lamborghini and with a price point that’s still sitting comfortably under six-figures (we’re estimating anywhere between $85,000 and $95,000 with the Z07 package falling to the higher side) it should certainly attract even more customers that would have usually gone only for the legacy supercar makers. The C8 Z06 will go on sale in the summer of 2022, assuming there are no delays, and official pricing information should be available sometime in the spring of 2022. Should you buy a Z06? Well, I’d definitely opt for the Z07 package, but something tells me, you won’t go wrong with either one.
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