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New Product: 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Edition – Harriman State Park, Rockland County (NY)

September 23rd, 2010 by Stu

Editors note: Even the best of us make mistakes now and again. With that being said, it has been brought to our attention that the car pictured here is not in fact a Z06 Carbon Edition as we were originally lead to believe. Apparently the limited edition run of 500 cars will not begin production until later this year. According to our sources at Chevy, the main elements are…

1) Carbon fiber rockers and hood (CFZ option on the order sheet)
2) New “Z07″ chassis package — carbon ceramic brakes, chassis tuning and wheels and tires inherited from the ZR1
3) Commemorative Interior elements: Microfiber suede accents, special sill plate
4) Carbon fiber roof panel

Items 1 and 2 on the list above — accounting for most of the special edition’s functional elements – are available on any 2011 Z06 as optional equipment. That’s the car we drove and that you see represented here…essentially a Z06 with these new options and the Supersonic Blue paint. The actual Limited Edition car comes with those added commemorative elements (suede etc.) and starts production later this year. Please forgive us for the confusion.

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The weather could be better…a lot better. This is what I kept mumbling to myself as I stood staring angrily at the rain clouds, car keys in hand, contemplating how easy it would be to spin horribly out of control on a slick road in the beastly 505 HP Z06 Carbon that was residing in my parents’ suburban driveway at the time. The Supersonic Blue, special edition Corvette just kept staring at me, whispering “fire up my hand-built, 7.0L V8…light up the acres of rubber wrapped around my 20 spoke, 20 inch competition gray aluminum wheels…and rev me mercilessly on a windy back road somewhere.” How can I be expected to say no to any of that. So, with guidance from Weather.com and my Helen Hunt-like storm chasing intuition, I threw caution aside and set on a course to outrun the depressing clouds that loomed overhead. My destination was to be Harriman State Park, a hikers’ haven and bird watchers’ delight, but somewhat of a well-kept secret amongst car and motorcycle enthusiasts searching for fantastically scenic driving roads that aren’t all that far from Manhattan.

The ride to Harriman is basically a one hour stretch on the Palisades Parkway, a woodsy North South highway known for the friendly state troopers lurking in every shadow. But the weather had been cooperating, the roads were dry and my right foot was running out of will power. Mind you, the sky could have opened up at at any moment and I would have lost my window to stretch this baby’s legs a bit. What the hell, let’s give this gussied up Vette a little dance. I dropped the balky shifter into 3rd, jacked the revs up a little bit and proceeded to give the throttle a good squeeze. In a matter of 2 or 3 seconds, the red needle on the tach blew past 4,500 RPM, opening up the exhaust baffles and unleashing a roaring muscle car soundtrack that’s quite possibly more addictive than many of today’s hard drug offerings.

More driving impressions and pics after the jump…

The nifty heads up display on my brand spanking new tester reported that I was doing 90 MPH, a little fast for this 50 MPH zone, so I decided it was as good a time as ever to get some sense of the braking power this car possessed. Mind you, the base Vette’s rather large cross drilled rotors (roughly 13” front and back) and multi-piston calipers are more than capable of slowing things down in a hurry. But this is the Z06 Carbon…as in the heat-dissipating Carbon Ceramic brakes traditionally used in race cars and many of today’s high end exotics. Designed by Brembo, these suckers came right off the ZR1 and were originally designed for the hardcore Ferrari FXX and Enzo. Chevy tells me they are among the largest of any production sports car currently being sold. Needless to say, they feature way more stopping power than I will ever need on an interstate highway, but in case you’re curious, the heavy duty track hardware (15.5” carbon-ceramic rotors front, 15″ in the back and Brembo monobloc calipers with six pistons in front and four in the back), coupled in with Z06’s already light curb weight of just over 3,100 lbs, are good enough to slow the car from 60-0 MPH in about 99 feet.

Just as the Grand Sport bridges the gap between the base Corvette and Z06, the Z06 Carbon aims to achieve a similar positioning effect between the Z06 and top-of-the-line ZR-1 in price, hardware and performance. Put simply, it’s a Z06 with many of ZR1’s more exotic and advanced components inside. Truth be told, there is absolutely no reason to go for the upgraded brakes and suspension hardware, which will each be available a la cart on the 2011 Z06, if you don’t plan on spending a decent amount of time on the track. It’s the automotive equivalent to buying flood insurance in the Mohave Desert. Hell, even the track rats among us will have trouble getting into one of these Carbons as Chevy is only making 500 copies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Corvette’s first race in the 24 Hours of LeMans. The exotic brakes feature handsome gray calipers and are part of a nearly $10,000 equipment group Chevy calls the Z06 Ultimate Performance Package. Other performance goodies include 20-spoke aluminum wheels (20” rear – 19” front), Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires (Front -285/30-19×10, Rear – 335/25-20×12) and GM’s road-scanning Magnetic Ride Control. Coupled in with other optional niceties, like a premium equipment group ($7,170), carbon fiber package ($3,995) and navi system ($1,795), and you are looking at a $98,000 Corvette with nearly $23 grand in options. That’s a lot of cheese.

Harriman is great for sight seeing and becoming one with nature, but thanks to the abundance of law-enforcing park police roaming the grounds, it has become increasingly difficult to enjoy the many sweeping, twisty roads the park has to offer. With that being said, the Z06 Carbon felt light on its feet, composed and generally ready to pounce on any variety of corner that presented itself. Steering feel was nicely weighted and the V8’s meaty torque reserve makes it quite easy to pull hard out of nearly any gear. The Magnetic Ride Control system, which scans the road 1,000 times per second to adjust stiffness and damper rates, coupled in with the big wheels and thin performance tires, made for a slightly jarring ride over less than flat surfaces. But then again, what do you expect from a 198 MPH car that sits mere inches off the ground on 19 and 20 inch wheels.

At the end of the day, there are 2 kinds of sports cars out there. Those that are really really good at one thing and those that strive for all-around greatness. The Corvette, despite its modern chassis and handling advancements, is not widely regarded to be a member the latter grouping. Well, widely regard this…the 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon will slow you down and take you around corners just as ferociously as it catapults you down a straight away. It’s well priced, well balanced and sounds as good as the bell for last period on the last day of school. The car goes into production this fall and is available in 2 colors, the aforementioned Supersonic Blue and a slightly less subtle hue called Inferno Orange.

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