First 2023 Corvette Z06 Review: Chevy Makes Jay Leno Proud of American Cars Again

Chevy introduced the mid-engine Corvette C8 for the 2020 model year. Now, the Chevrolet Performance is raising the bar yet again with the C8 Corvette Z06. Jay Leno was the first test driver outside of General Motors’ staff. His 2023 Corvette Z06 review was glowing. He concluded that it “competes with the best of European cars, at a third of the price.” In addition, the new Z07 reminds him of his classic Corvettes. Finally, it makes Leno proud of American supercars again.

The 2023 Corvette Z06 at a glance

  • Engine: 5.5-Liter “LT6” V8
  • Horsepower: 670
  • Redline: 8,600 RPMs
  • Transmission: 8-speed Tremec automatic with 5.56:1 final drive ratio
  • Acceleration: 0-60 MPH in 2.6 seconds
  • Differential: electronic limited-slip
  • Suspension: magnetic ride adaptive

2023 Corvette Z06 performance: “I would put this against any European exotic”

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Jay Leno loved the way the 2021 Corvette Z06 performs. He said, “This is a very impressive machine.” At the heart of this mid-engine supercar is a brand-new engine, the 5.5-Liter “LT6” V8. Leno believes that what makes a true exotic car is a bespoke engine, so GM’s one-off Z06 powerplant catapults it into an unprecedented class.

The Z06’s new engine is an exceptional one. At 670 horsepower, the LT6 sets the naturally-aspirated V8 record. What’s more, Chevrolet Performance achieves unprecedented power thanks to secret exotic car engine technology

One technology the Z06 leverages is a flat-plane crankshaft. Most cross-plane crankshafts look like a cross when viewed head-on. This allows engines to fire for every 90 degrees of crank rotation and idle smoothly at high RPMs. A flat-plane crankshaft reduces the engine’s rotating mass but only allows a cylinder to fire every 180 degrees of rotation. The result is a fast accelerating, high-revving engine that must be built to very tight tolerances.

The 2023 Corvette Z06 review made Jay nostalgic for his 1963 Corvette and 1999 Corvette C5

These are pre-production Chevy Corvette Z06 and Z07 cars. Jay Leno did the first 2023 Corvette Z06 review. | Chevrolet Performance
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Z07 | Chevrolet Performance

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When Jay Leno stuck his head inside the 2023 Corvette Z06, the first thing he noticed was the center console’s control center. The cockpit features a vertical column of switches and buttons to save space. Leno said it reminds him of his beloved 1963 “split-window” Corvette. He remembered, “When I was 13, there was nothing cooler” than the second-generation Corvette, the first to carry a Z06 badge. To save cockpit space, General Motors mounted the 1963 Corvette’s radio vertically.

Jay Leno also pointed at his Corvette C5. He called it the “first modern” Corvette supercar with its exotic LS7. When Leno heard that the new C8 Corvette Z06 had drawn a crowd on the Autobahn, he told a funny story about his C5. He said he took it on the Autobahn twenty years ago and attracted a crowd of interested Germans who rarely saw a Corvette. It looks like America is once again ready to put the world on notice.

The 2023 Corvette Z06 review made Jay proud to be an American

This is the interior from the 2023 Corvette Z06 review by Jay Leno | General Motors
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Interior | Chevrolet Performance

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Jay Leno said the new Z06 “Just makes you proud” of American cars. He keyed in on two American strengths that made the 2023 Corvette Z06 possible. The first is American engineering, and the second is American manufacturing.

Leno glowed about the current structure of General Motors. He said that everyone in management also has training as an engineer. The car collector speculated that in the past, the “bean counters” would have never greenlit a bespoke engine for the Corvette Z06.

In addition, Leno says American manufacturing allows the domestic supercar to undercut European competitors. For example, he said that he found carbon fiber rims for one of his exotics twenty years ago, but they cost $20,000 a pop. As Detroit has lowered the price of such exotic car components, they have enabled the Corvette Z06’s pricetag, projected to be under $100,000. The new Corvette Z06 rivals a Ferrari F8 at a fraction of the price. Leno concluded, “You would have to pay over $300,000 to get equal performance in a European car.”

Leno owns a garage full of exotic European cars. He admitted that in past eras he “cringed” when journalists pitted American muscle cars against European supercars. After he drove the Corvette Z06 he said, “Those days are gone forever.”

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