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Corvette Z06 beats GT-R Nismo after all!




This is a little overdue, but man, was I ever happy when I read this. A lot of people were disappointed after the first comparison of the new Corvette Z06 vs the Nissan GT-R Nismo and frankly I was a little disappointed myself (read first post here). Every one was expecting the Z06 with the Z07 package to beat every car short of hyper cars on a track but in the hands of Randy Pobst, it posted a best lap of 1:27.1 at Willow Springs vs a lap time of 1:25.7 by the GT-R Nismo, trailing it by 1.4 seconds. Every Corvette fan, myself included, tried to find reasons as to why it lost as it was hard to believe because the Corvette performed far better in individual handling tests (figure-8, braking and skidpad). Well, as it turns out, there was a reason. Chevy looked into the test car and found that the rear suspension was out of alignment.




They sent it back to Motor Trend. To make things even better, GM developed a new setting for the magnetic shocks for rough tracks like Willow. The setting should allow the shocks to provide better control over bumps. With this setting (which will be available to all Z06 buyers) and the rear suspension alignment corrected, the car posted a best lap time of 1:25.0, besting the GT-R Nismo by 0.7 sec. Randy's impressions also better reflected the first test, where he had a lot of confidence in the car. He said: "This was so much nicer to drive. Oh my gosh. The butterflies are gone. The fear is gone. There was a lot of fear in the car before. Just the handling, I trusted it way more. I still don't experience a push anywhere. All the way around the Turn 2 carousel, it feels like I have very little steering in the car. Really balanced. Even the tail, the tail may be coming, but in a no-fear kind of way, like, 'Wow, this thing's really balanced!'"

People are complaining but such oversights unfortunately happen with HUGELY anticipated performance cars. I don't know why automakers don't learn but they all do it. Porsche, Ferrari and Lambo all had their cases of early production cars catching on fire. Nissan had the GTR transmissions blowing up on early cars. This car went out with a misaligned rear end. It's probably the pressure of wanting the press to be able to test the car (and many magazines not just one and in different countries). They want to have the car ready for sales. I say kudos to GM for caring enough to investigate and even more respect for providing a new damper setting for rough tracks.




Some people are also comparing the new damper setting to Ferrari bringing their engineers to track tests to adjust the car for the best results. The new damper setting is far, far from Ferrari, McLaren or any of the big names coming for a test to optimize their cars. The difference is that whoever buys those cars won't have that luxury. They won't be able to call up Ferrari, for example, and say "I'm going to Willow Springs this weekend for a track day. Come and optimize my tire pressures, alignment settings and traction/stability control settings for the best times, will ya?" With the Corvette, GM saw the car perform less than desired, thought they may be able to improve the performance on rough tracks with a new damper setting so they developed it and are going to offer it to everyone who owns the car. Everyone can repeat those results (assuming they have the skill) whenever and wherever they want, as opposed to only a group of automotive journalists with the manufacturer's suspension engineers at their disposal. The two are far from comparable.

One last caveat to the test: The GT-R Nismo was tested with octane booster while the Corvette wasn't. The reason? The GT-R Nismo requires a minimum octane of 93 where the Z06 requires 91 octane or better and 91 was the best available. I think to make this a "gentlemen's race", both cars should have been run with octane booster but, in my opinion,  it's fair to run the Corvette on 91 octane if the manual calls for 91 or better. The C6 Z06 manual called for 93 octane for best performance: "If your vehicle has the 7.0L V8 engine (VIN Code E), use premium unleaded gasoline with a posted octane rating of 91 or higher. For best performance, use premium unleaded gasoline with a posted octane rating of 93." It is GM's fault for removing that sentence that was in the C6 Z06 that said that 93 is required for the best performance. Most people will use octane boost for track days, though. I will say that Nissan is playing a little dirty, though, by saying 93 is minimum required because, as with every modern car, I have no doubt that the GT-R can safely compensate for 91 and will simply pull timing but Nissan doesn't want that to happen.

Now if only Chevy would fix the overheating issue, this would be perfect. Although it does not affect performance greatly (lap times suffered by on only a few tenths while overheated), using 93 or octane boost would help loss of power and very few owners would be able to push the car as hard as a professional race car driver, I still think this should be a zero-excuse car. I hope Chevy does fix this, at least with an upgraded radiator and/or intercooler with the Z06 package. I also would prefer a non-electronic set of shocks on a Z06 and, more importantly, a naturally aspirated engine but this is still a very fine track car.


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