Chevrolet is honking its own horn hard for the rollout of its new Corvette Z06 convertible, calling it the most powerful drop-top the company has ever produced.
Boasting 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet or torque, the Z06 is built on a brand new all-aluminum frame that the company says lowers the weight, increases stability and for the first time makes race-track performance possible in a convertible.
Extolling the vehicle as "a race car that’s street legal" married to "a private jet for the road," the company's Corvette product manager, Harlan Charles, said the 2015 model is also the first Z06 offering an automatic transmission -- an eight-speed paddle-shift version -- as well as the traditional seven-speed manual one.
Chevy isn't releasing official speed or fuel-consumption data, but Charles said the Z06 will make zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds or less, while still matching the 2014 Stingray's reported 29 mpg.
It also features the company's active fuel-management system, which automatically turns the V-8 engine into a V-4 when minimal power is needed, increasing fuel economy, as well as a variety of aerodynamic elements that increase downforce, which will be useful on track days.
Also useful on the track: The company's new performance data recorder system. This "industry first," the company said, includes a windshield trim-mounted Sony HD camera, and a recording system that captures and can upload video, audio and performance data such as RPM, speed, lap times, pedal positions and more.
"This is the biggest and baddest convertible you can get from GM," said AutoPacific Inc. analyst Dave Sullivan, with a data system that "allows you to brag about your Z06 online."
Sullivan predicted that the convertible option and the eight-speed automatic transmission feature will bring in some new customers, but not necessarily attract the race-day crowd.
"If you’re a performance guy, you’re not buying the convertible," he said. "A full-blown track car has to be a coupe."
Both coupe and convertible come with the same equipment options, which include street legal race tires, ceramic brakes (with larger rotors that cut 23 pounds off the weight of the car), and an adjustable rear spoiler. Both, like the company's Stingray, feature a choice of either the "sport seat" or trackier "GT seat." Both come with 10 paint color options and five interior designs, including two that are exclusive to the Z06.
Additionally, the convertible top can be raised or lowered remotely, using the car's key fob, or can open or close while the car is in motion, traveling up to 30 mph.
The new Z06 coupe is expected to be in dealers' showrooms near the end of this year or the beginning of next, with the convertible coming shortly after. The two cars will be MSRPed at between $75,000 and $100,000.