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C8 Corvette Z06, ZR1, and ZORA engines and hp leaked!

GM recently announced that the high performing C8 Corvette models that have been highly anticipated are going to be delayed because of the ongoing pandemic. As a result, some GM insiders saw fit to leak some details about the upcoming (and highly anticipated) big gun C8 Corvette models. According to a report by Hagerty, the usual Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 are planned as has been rumoured, in addition to a top of the line hyper-car level model named Zora, also as rumoured. And now, we get a sneak peak into what they may be packing.

Z06: 600 hp - 470 lb-ft

The Z06 will supposedly get the highly anticipated 5.5 litre flat-plane crank DOHC V8 that debuted in the C8.R race car. You can hear it rev here where it certainly sounds a lot more exotic, if less baritone than the traditional Corvette noise. The new engine will be code named LT6 and Hagerty's estimates put the power output around 600 hp. If it follows a similar specific power to the 5.2 litre Voodoo V8 in the Shelby GT350, it will have just over 550 hp. I suspect GM will be going for “bragging rights” and getting 600 hp from a naturally aspirated 5.5 litre sounds like a really nice round number. Keeping it naturally aspirated will also mean “return to form” for the Z06 following the C5 and C6 (and the original and extremely rare nearly race-ready C2 Z06). After the supercharged C7 Z06, a lot of people have been asking for the Z06 to be simpler, more raw, and much more focused on track and it sounds like this might happen.

Grand Sport: 600 hp - 500 lb-ft

For the last two generations, the Grand Sport has been a Z06 “light”, using the same powertrain as the entry level Corvette but the wide body and a lot of suspension and brake bits from the Z06. It seems like that will change for the C8. While the engine itself is the same small block LT2 6.2 litre V8, it appears to be getting hybrid assist bumping power to an estimated 600 hp. No information is given about the hybrid system, but I suspect it will be what is typically called “mild hybrid” where you may get a larger alternator that can act as an alternator or generator to capture regen, perhaps combined with a 48V battery with enough capacity to capture and store some regen energy and then power the alternator/generator for bursts of power to supplement the gas engine. 600 hp estimate seems on the high side to me for total power, I suspect it will be around 550 hp. I think 600 hp might step on the Z06 toes a bit.

ZR1: 850 hp - 825 lb-ft

The ZR1 is going to use a version of the same flat-plane 5.5 litre V8 used in the Z06, but this one will have a couple of turbos strapped to it like the Blackwing V8 found in the shortly lived Cadillac CT6-V. I seem to remember GM saying that it's not the same engine, although it could share some parts. It sounds like no one will be missing the Cadillac version, though, since this one is anticipated to produce a whopping 850 hp. It's code named LT7 and it means the ZR1 will play in the same sandbox as cars like the Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 812 Superfast, and the McLaren 720S while being able to claim the highest hp. One other trick up its sleeve may be active aero. This could come on the Z06 as well, but it would be even more useful here with that much power. That's one piece of tech that was anticipated on the C8 Corvette based on patent filings before it debuted, which showed very capable active aero systems, but we have yet to see any applications.

Zora: 1,000 hp - 975 lb-ft

The top of the line hyper-car-beating model will be the Zora, named after Zora ‘the father of the Corvette’. The Zora will essentially build on the ZR1 drivetrain, using a version of the LT7 twin-turbo 5.5 litre V8 and supplementing it with a hybrid system. I suspect this one will have no chance of being a mild hybrid, however, but details are scarce. Multiple rumours suggest this one will be AWD and that makes a lot of sense for simplicity.

Putting an electric motor up front to power the front wheels will easily allow electric only driving mode (albeit, as a FWD... but the Porsche 918 and Acura NSX can do the same). It will also keep the engine and transaxle fairly "simple" without the need to add an electric motor or sandwich one between the engine and the transmission. Finally, it also means the car will be AWD without the need for a second driveshaft or takeoff from the transaxle to send power up front. If all stands to be true, that will make the Zora a hybrid, twin-turbo V8, mid-engine AWD Corvette, a combination of developments and changes I never expected to see happen all within one generation of Corvette. The car will likely be an absolute monster and should be one of the fastest accelerating and highest performing production cars available. Total output of the engine and electric motor are estimated at around 1,000 hp.

On-Sale Date?

According to the leaked info, the Z06 was slated to be a 2022 model years, meaning it likely would have gone into production and went on sale some time in the next year. The Grand Sport, ZR1, and Zora would then be released one by one, each one year apart (i.e. 2023, 2024, and 2025). With plans on hold, it’s unknown when they may go back into production, or (and this is a very bleak scenario) if they will go into production at all if no case could be made for them after normalcy is resumed. Only time will tell. As was the case for production, no cost estimates are provided, but I suspect the Z06 will be very close to $100k, the ZR1 will be close to $150k, and the Zora may approach $200k.

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