Spy photographers just captured a heavily camouflaged mid-engine Corvette out in the wild, and we think we’re looking at the upcoming Z06 high-performance variant of Chevy’s flagship sports car.
There’s a raft of black cladding covering nearly every panel, but it’s not the body camo that caught our eye first—the wheels are covered in black discs as well. They’re likely hiding some high-tech carbon-fiber wheels, a popular tactic used by engineers to reduce unsprung mass in performance cars like the Shelby GT500.
According to the spy photographer, the engine emitted a higher-pitch exhaust note than what we’ve come to expect from C8’s small-block LT2 V-8. That’s likely because there isn’t an LT2 under the rear hatch of this prototype; we suspect the 5.5-liter, DOHC, flat-plane V-8 currently blasting the C8.R race car to victory after victory in the IMSA sports car series. In the C8.R, that flat-plane yowler is good for 500 horsepower, but it’s breathing through an air restrictor mandated by the motorsports sanctioning body. In the production car, expect the unrestricted engine to clear 600 horses with ease. No word yet on whether it will be force-fed with twin-turbo chargers, but if it is, output could soar north of 650 horses.
Traditionally, Z06 variants also have more aggressive track-focused suspension setups than their more pedestrian Z51 or base-level brethren. While it’s too soon to know exact figures here, also note how large that rear tire is—the Z06 will likely wear wider rubber on both ends. Some sources speculate that the Z06 will wear the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs (275/30R20 front and 345/25R21 rear) currently found on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and GT2 RS.
Interestingly, the center-exit exhaust rumored for the Z06 is not present in these spy photographs. Perhaps the design was scrapped, or maybe Vette engineers are running the standard quad-tip as a way to help disguise the rest of what’s going on here.
We have a long ways to go before we see this thing undisguised and in the flesh. We’re expecting the Corvette Z06 to break cover officially sometime in late 2021 as a 2022 model year. Still, nothing gets us excited like knowing the folks at the Ren Cen are still taking dead aim at the performance kings of the world and prepping for all-out lap battles. Grab the popcorn and a stopwatch, folks. This one should be fun.