One Simple Way to Improve the Corvette Z06
The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was introduced as the most track capable Corvette of all time and the heart of this beastly American supercar is the new LT4 V8. This mill delivers 650 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful production road-going engine from General Motors ever. Even though the new Z06 is the heaviest Corvette ever, the supercharged engine, the super-aerodynamic body, the stiff-yet-light chassis, the high tech suspension system and the monster carbon ceramic brakes all work together to make the C7 Z06 one incredible machine.
Early Power Loss Issues
Unfortunately, shortly after GM began delivering the 2015 Corvette Z06, owners began experiencing a problem that they believe was major power loss from a condition known as “heat soak”. Heat soak is when the air intake system, including the supercharger, has gotten so hot that it is super-heating the air entering the engine. The computer detects this super-heated air and makes adjustments to prevent damage to the engine, which leads to a loss in power.
However, as soon as these reports of the noticeable power loss issues in the Corvette Z06 began popping up online, GM was quick to issue a statement that it wasn’t technically a heat soak issue. Instead, GM explained that the company had programmed the engine control computer to pull timing and power when the engine reaches the top end of its ideal operating temperature. This intention was to ensure that the new LT4 engine could make 650 horsepower reliably for the duration of the car’s warranty, but owners were noticing a power loss after just a few laps on the road course or a few long high speed highway runs.
In other words, the most track capable Corvette of all time was programmed to be less powerful after a relatively short time on the track. GM pointed out that this power loss could easily be programed out with an aftermarket engine tune, but that would void the engine warranty.
This has created a bit of a black eye for General Motors, while presenting an excellent marketing opportunity for the competitors, who regularly point out that their highest performance engines can run hard for hours on end without any power loss. At the same time, this questionable decision by General Motors built in a “simple” way for them to improve the C7 Corvette Z06.
The Hard Part of a Simple Issue
The fact that the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 pulls power after as little as a few road course laps on a hot day has proven to be a black eye for the automaker. The car is still selling fine, but those new Z06 owners who bought the “most track capable Corvette ever” to take it to the track are understandably upset about this. Even though the vast majority of Z06 owners will likely never be in a situation where this power loss issue really makes any difference, if you paid for a 650hp Corvette – you want a 650hp Corvette – so it isn’t hard to see the view of the upset owners. Also, with Dodge regularly pointing out that the Hellcat cars makes 707+ horsepower and the Dodge Viper makes 645hp, both without pulling power when hot and both with warranties, GM has plenty of incentive to get rid of this unfortunate feature of the new Z06.
The hard part is that it likely isn’t as easy as GM just removing that line of code from the engine control system, as if they put that power cut in the system of the 2015 Corvette Z06, they did so for a reason. Based on the basic ins and outs of a supercharged engine, I would imagine that when the engine gets hot, it begins to reach unsafe internal temperatures when producing 650 horsepower so in cutting the power, the computer is able to reduce the heat and internal stress on the engine.
If I am correct, GM would need to improve the cooling system of the LT4 V8 in the Corvette Z06, as if they can cut down internal temperatures, they could avoid risking damage when running at full power. That is the challenge for the GM engineering team, and it is one that I expect that they will solve in the coming years. Should they address this issue and get rid of the power loss, it would answer the complaints of Corvette racing loyalists while hushing those Ford and Chrysler fans who are happy to bring up videos of less powerful cars outrunning the most track capable Corvette of all time.