THE POWER OF Z
Of course a new Corvette ZO6 edition would come along. If the past was any guide, the high-performance version of the mid-engine sportscar would bolt a supercharger on top of the near 500HP pushrod engine and produce prodigious power along with extra income from America's venerable racing and sales champion. What I didn't expect was the brand new, hand-built (and signed by the builder) dual-overhaed-cam, 32-valve, flat crank, high-revving V8 that moves the Corvette's international perception nose-to-nose with Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and other supercars in every way but it's window sticker. Speaking of MSRP for the ZO6, we'll have to wait for that announcement, but in the meantime I've got my name on the list for a week's evaluation.
JUST CALL ME Z
In an automotive age where utility vehicles compete with 4-door pickup trucks for sales leadership, building sedans seems too much a risk for some brands. And two-seat sportscars? That's a much tougher sell for major automakers who have little patience for low volume offerings with little or no profit, regardless of the real benefit of brand enhancement. Nissan built its brand awareness with its Z sportscars, resurrecting the model after short sighted management had let it die of natural causes. The current 370Z has led a longer than average life and some worried that the model would disappear form the lineup, but it's reborn as simply Z and it should find a sweet spot in the market if it's priced near the outgoing model.
When I encountered photos the new styling, I wasn't smitten. The lines seemed too familiar, perhaps nodding to the past with a bit more enthusiasm than needed. But when I was invited to see the Z in person, I like the resulting sheetmetal. Sure, it acknowledges the heritage, but makes its own assertive statement.
The big news is under the hood, where Nissan pinched the terrific twin-turbo, 400HP V6 from Infiniti's Q50 Red Sport and bolted it to an available six-speed manual transmission. If you've driven the previous Z, it won't take too much imagination to see the grin-producing result.