What We Know about the V-8 that Will Power the C8 Corvette Z06 and ZR1

Illustration by Alexander StoklosaCar and Driver

  • The 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray has arrived, but there will be many more high-performance Corvette models to come.
  • We expect that the Z06, ZR1, and hybrid versions will use a 5.5-liter flat-plane-crank V-8 engine in various states of tune, making between 600 and 1000 horsepower.
  • The Z06 is likely to arrive first, possibly sometime in 2020, with the ZR1 and hybrid versions to follow.

    The 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 engine in the new 2020 Corvette Stingray is just the beginning of the C8 Corvette’s story. Numerous higher-performance variants, wearing the expected Z06 and ZR1 nomenclature, are in the works. They will each depend on a new flat-plane-crank V-8 that will take the Corvette to new heights. We first reported on this future engine last year before the Corvette made its official debut—and engine trends and others have been talking about it this week. Here’s everything we know about it to date.

    The all-new 32-valve flat-plane-crank V-8 has been under development within General Motors for several years. This is not an offshoot of the 4.2-liter Cadillac Blackwing V-8, but rather an entirely new engine inspired by the Wagnerian exhaust notes of cars like Ferraris and McLarens.

    The new engine is expected to be 5.5 liters in displacement and have a firing order that mimics the Italian and British supercars’—which produce a richer, deeper wail than the shriek of Ford’s flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter Voodoo engine in the Mustang Shelby GT350.

    Corvette Z06

    We expect the C8 Corvette Z06 will use a naturally aspirated version of the engine that will supposedly rev to 8600 rpm and develop in excess of 600 horsepower, a power figure that’s credible given the Voodoo’s power rating and 8250-rpm redline. (More revs equal more power per liter.) It is rumored that GM engineers had designed the motor to spin to 9000 rpm, but that design elements of the Tremec-built dual-clutch automatic transmission—the same one that will be standard across all versions of the C8—restricted the redline to the lower number.

    This engine will help the Z06 return to its roots as a lightweight, naturally aspirated, high-revving, rear-drive, track-focused car. We believe that, as in our illustration above, it will have a wider body than the standard Stingray to cover its wider wheels and tires.

    Corvette ZR1

    The ZR1 will be the big daddy of Vettes, and its twin-turbocharged version of the flat-plane crank engine can be expected to put out well over 800 horsepower. It will likely not have as high a redline as the Z06. It will be rear-wheel drive and have a movable rear wing, along with a front suspension that can automatically adjust ride height with speed to move the center of pressure and increase downforce for optimum handling balance. It will probably be the quickest C8 around the Nürburgring, but not the fastest in a straight line.

    Corvette Hybrid

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    Michael SimariCar and Driver

    The straight-line acceleration honor will go to the hybrid version of the C8, rumored to be called eRay or Zora. It will have a powerful electric motor where the front trunk is in other models (see cutaway, above), which powers the front wheels independently of the rears; the twin-turbo engine will drive the rear tires. A small battery will be housed low in the structure, possibly inside the car’s central spine. Total system power is expected to approach 1000 horsepower for brief periods. The resulting all-wheel drive and instantaneous low-end torque will launch the Corvette like a rifle bullet and make it one of the quickest-accelerating cars on the planet. The extra weight from the motor and battery, however, will probably keep it from being the quickest around the ‘Ring.

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