Six of the Corvette Z06’s Hottest Features
Driving the 2015 Corvette Z06 at Spring Mountain Motor Resort, you quickly get the sense that unless you are a highly experienced driver on the track, there’s no way you can get a feel for the car’s full capabilities. Certainly not in a couple of hours.
There’s just so much performance technology packed into the Z06, it’s hard to get a good grasp of all it can do. So to get a better understanding of exactly what gives the Z06 its edge, I solicited some seat time in the car with Chris Barber, who worked on the eLSD system for the Z06. He’s also one of only 33 people in all of GM authorized to test anything the company takes on the track.
The end goal? Walk away with deeper insight on what really makes the new Z06 special, beyond all that power. For those wanting to get everything they can out of their car, Chris (pictured above) was more than eager to share six of his top features.
1. Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (eLSD)
“This is a big-time track enabler; more than people realize because you don’t really feel it or know exactly what it’s doing. But it’s always working, optimizing your corner exit speed and longitudinal acceleration. It has the ability to add or reduce understeer, depending on how it balances the rest of the hardware. You really don’t want an over-steering freebie feeling at high speeds, so you really want to clamp it down a bit, add a little bit more understeer at high speed situations to keep the car a little bit more stable. But then at lower speeds, autocross and tight corners, you really want it to be nice and free. You want the car to rotate a bit to get back on power. You want to be able to optimize that longitudinal acceleration. It’s kind of the best of the both worlds with no compromise.”
“The tires, the amount of a grip. Michelin did a rockstar job and gave us an awesome tire with that Sport Cup 2. The PSS (Pilot Super Sport) is also a fantastic tire. You get in that Z06 with the base PSS tire and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a racecar,’ and then you move into that Cup tire and you’re like, ‘This shouldn’t even be possible.’ It’s absolutely insane at 1.2 Gs. It’s incredible. You can just throw the car into corners. It just has so much grip.”
3. Magnetic Selective Ride Control
“Our new MR system is another big tool. With the Gen 3 system, which is what the Corvette (Z06) has, it can obviously add current to dampen up the system, but it can also back drive that current so it can pull damping out a lot quicker than it could with the previous system, so it gives us a lot more freedom to finally tune the damper control throughout corners. For example, if it sees the brake pedal applied, it knows the car is going to pitch forward, and it can apply damping to those front dampers to try to keep that pitch moment from getting too far out of control. It keeps the car nice and stable. It allows the brakes to optimize. You’re not locking up your rears because the car pitches forward. It lets you keep an even, steady course on all four wheels. That kind of stuff is very subtle. Drivers might not necessarily feel it, but it results in an awesome performance.”
4. Performance Traction Management (PTM)
“It’s an awesome tool. As you move up the five modes, the slip threshold increases and allows the car to rotate a little more on power and you start to progressively lose the safety systems behind it. So with Sport 2 and Race mode, the highest two modes, there is no stability control behind it. It’s purely a performance-optimized traction system. So if you stump on throttle a little early, the car can kind of rotate on you. The driver is required to put some counter steer in. It’s not purely driving itself. It still requires some skill, but it’s taking the edge off. Getting that 650 horsepower to the ground is pretty tough with no help.
This system just lets the driver be a little more confident in getting on the throttle early, and it just optimizes the acceleration in working with the eLSD. You can just slam into the throttle with a ton of confidence and a nice tiny little drift out of the corner, a little counter steer, and it just rocks out of the corner. I think that’s one of the biggest tools that people can use to improve their driving skills and get everything out of the car. I think [PTM] legitimately makes people faster, especially when you’re learning.”
5. Carbon Ceramic Brake Package
“It’s kind of terrifying how deep into corners you can take the car. Brembo gave us a great system. The ABS system is calibrated by Bosch, and they did a great job as well. They don’t get as much attention as Brembo because the hardware tends to stand out, but that ABS calibration is a key part of the Z06’s stopping distance. When you’re trail braking, doing a lot of laterals and going into the brakes with laterals, the car is still crazy stable. Typically, without those systems, cars want to rotate. You can just basically drive around that. If you want to go with the brakes, just go with the brakes — the system figures it out. It doesn’t get close to the point where it’s scary. But it’s just very confident and inspiring.”
6. Downforce with Aero Package
“I’ve driven the cars with and without the wing, and the downforce is a major player in keeping that rear end planted down. I did a few studies where I took the splitter off, and had just the rear wing [on], or the other way around [rear wing off, front splitter on] just to get the data. You really can understand how the front and the rear play together; the whole package with the splitter and the wing to balance the car out. It just produces awesome amounts of downforce. You can really tell when you take that wing off how different the car becomes at higher speeds when you are really planting that rear end. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons we’re getting such fast lap times.”