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The Z06 Won’t Be the Only High-Performance C8 Corvette Trim

As fun-to-drive as the ‘base’ C8 Corvette is, some reviewers have noted that Chevrolet’s sports car doesn’t quite make the most of its mid-engine design. However, as in years past, the base Corvette is just the beginning. We’ve been hearing rumors of a C8 Corvette Z06 for some time now, and now have some updates to share. And one of them is that the Z06 is just the beginning.

There will be a C8 Chevrolet Corvette Z06—here’s what we know about it

Let’s start with the most important thing: the C8 Corvette Z06 is happening, MotorTrend reports. Chevrolet hasn’t revealed an official date, but Car and Driver estimates that it will launch “in early 2021 as a 2022 model.”

Like the base C8 Corvette, the Z06 will have a V8. However, instead of the standard model’s 6.2-liter V8, the Z06 is getting a 5.5-liter V8 with a Ferrari-like flat-plane crank. The now-discontinued Shelby GT350 also used such an engine. And Motor1 reports that Chevrolet specifically benchmarked the C8 Z06 against the Ferrari 458 Speciale.

The gray-and-yellow 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R drives down a forest-lined road
2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R side 3/4 | Chevrolet

This is the same kind of engine used in the Corvette C8.R race car. In fact, it’s likely the road car will get that same engine, albeit, with a few street-friendly tweaks, Roadshow reports. However, the version in the C8 Corvette Z06 will likely be even more powerful; MT estimates an output of 615-625 hp. Plus, a redline of 9000 RPM or so.

The C8 Z06 will also get several additional performance options, MT reports. Likely accessories include carbon-fiber wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, and upgraded tires. Sports-tuned magnetorheological dampers, though, will likely be standard.

An image of a blue 2020 Chevy Corvette out on track.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Chevrolet

As of this writing, Chevrolet hasn’t released any pricing details for the C8 Corvette Z06. But MT reports a base price of about $80,000. Car and Driver pegs it at “about $85,000.” For comparison, the base 2021 C8 starts at $58,900.

The Z06 is just the start of the sportier C8 Corvette models, though

But as exciting as the C8 Z06 is shaping up to be, it won’t be the sportiest Corvette. Not by a long shot.

The next trim above the Z06 will be the C8 Corvette ZR1. Initial rumors claimed the ZR1 would come with a hybrid, twin-turbocharged version of the Z06’s powertrain, MT reports. However, while the ‘hybrid’ part isn’t true, the twin-turbo part is. And MT reports the blown flat-plane-crank V8 will make 825-850 hp. That’s McLaren-level horsepower, but for ‘just’ $120,000 or so.

A white 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Convertible with red seats on a forested mountain road
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Convertible | Chevrolet

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However, there is a plug-in hybrid C8 Corvette in the works, with AWD and at least two electric motors, MT reports. This might be the ‘E-Ray’ we’ve been hearing about. It might use the Z06’s V8, too, but it could also stick with the base car’s 6.2-liter engine, MT reports. And, based on rumors, it may effectively replace the Grand Sport in the C8 Corvette lineup, The Drive reports.

This is interesting because the Grand Sport typically slots in-between the Z06 and ZR1, neither of which will be hybrids. Though, given MT estimates the E-Ray will have around 775 hp, the traditional ranking may still hold.

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However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a high-performance C8 Corvette hybrid, because there will be. It’s called the Zora, after the Corvette’s first chief engineer, Autoweek reports. And from what MT and Motor1 report, the rumors of it having 1000-plus hp aren’t hyperbole.

Finally, Chevrolet is working on an electric C8 Corvette, MT reports. This could be the actual E-Ray, or it could have some other name. But a Corvette EV is happening.

What we still don’t know

MT estimates the ZR1 and PHEV trims will debut for the 2023 model year and the Zora for 2025. The all-electric model is expected to arrive for the 2024 model year. But as of this writing, that’s the bulk of what we know about these upcoming variants.

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There are rumors of an electric C8 Corvette crossover in the same vein as the Mustang Mach-E. Road & Track reports such a vehicle could arrive for 2025, but only if it’s actually approved for production. As of this writing, that’s still up in the air.

But considering the Z06 is just the start of the high-performance C8 Corvette lineup, the mid-engine sports car has some interesting years ahead.

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