Having run the Dragon twice, and knowing some nasty weather was coming (thank you GM weather radar) we said goodbye to the Dragon, and left two 150 foot 355 wide signatures in our wake.
It would be a grueling ride from Deals Gap to Orlando, one that would test our endurance. We were nervous about this long ride in a sports car with competiton seats. However, several hundred miles in, these seats were still amazingly comfortable. Each leather stitched sports seat has a huge amount of adjustability. Even the side bolsters can be adjusted. Each seat also has heating and fan cooling. The passenger can adjust the heated seats and cooling as well as environmental controls on their side of the dash, so the passenger does not have to reach over the driver’s instruments to adjust.
The ride south was a constant drizzle until we arrived in Atlanta. We stopped to have dinner with long time friend and sales manager for Topspeed Motorsport, Ryan Doi. Almost as soon as we sat down for some epic Georgia barbecue, the skies opened up into a deluge. We did not want to stop this far from our destination, but as we downed our brisket and ribs, our thoughts kept going back to the slicks and standing water. We said our goodbyes to Ryan who tried his best to plead sanity and have us crash at his house – but we soldiered on.
When we stopped for gas reality started to set in. The standing water and near zero visibility was making driving nearly impossible. As we filled up our thirsty beast, we checked the GM weather radar one last time. Low and behold just below Atlanta was a gap in the weather that stretched all the way to Tallahassee. We decided to press on and see if the weather cleared. The drive through Atlanta was white knuckled, but the Z06 handled it perfectly. Once we broke the city limits, the weather cleared and we picked up the pace and pressed on to Florida, all the while the wonderfully supportive and adjustable seats never causing us a moment’s discomfort. The suspension was set to Weather and steering on light, which made the car a pleasure to drive during this long, caffeine-assisted road trip.
Once we arrived in Florida and rested a few days, we removed the top, stored it in the trunk and cruised in the sun and 80 degree weather. With the roof off we got a chance to hear the Z06 with its adjustable exhaust set to Track. The note is distinct, loud and has a tuned rawness that is delivered through four stainless exhaust tips. In the sun, the cooling seats worked perfectly. These should be very useful on the track to keep the driver cool, but also work well for top off sunny day excursions like this.
The Z06 drew an amazing amount of positive attention, both rolling and stopped to fill up. Just about any time we stopped, people would ask all sorts of questions about performance in America’s new sports car. Coming from the perspective of a GTR owner, this attention was not unusual, however the people that stopped to admire the car did so with the added grin of American pride. This car is a world beater, with Porsche 918 performance at a fifth the price. Anyone whose been near the Internet or has a general interest in sports cars recognized the Z06 for what it is and came over to chat about it.
As we enjoyed the warmth of Orlando, we had warm dry pavement to push the car. The LT4 was fully broken in and willingly accepted throttle. Set to Track mode, the steering and suspension stiffens considerably. We got to turn on another feature of the car as well, auto rev matching. Auto purists would scoff at this feature – however for a track newcomer this feature auto blips the throttle for you under down shifting and braking, letting the driver concentrate on his line instead of heel toe downshifting. When activated the shifter indicator turns yellow, alerting the driver that auto rev match is engaged. In track mode it’s no secret when it’s on with loud and very aggressive blips. We thought this was a great feature and left it on most of the time, scaring anyone that would be around the car under deceleration. It definitely puts a smile on your face, and can easily be deactivated at any time you want to do the heel toe downshifting with the manual 7-speed gearbox yourself.
All of these track features not withstanding – one very important test remained. A sports car has multiple rolls, and one of them is the enjoyable ride with your spouse. My wife Lauren has endured my automotive A.D.D. over the years and is a very good judge of a car now that she has experienced more than a few from the passenger side. We took the Z06 out on date night, and in Sport mode we could have a great conversation on our way to enjoying a night of great sushi. She loved the passenger controls and noted the car felt very comfortable for what it was. She felt the seat was comfortable and the car felt like a true sports car. I asked how she would compare it to the GTR, and her reply surprised me – she said the Z06 felt special, like an old friend, or family member. The Z06 makes a fantastic date night car.
With our time in Florida at an end, the trailer from RPM Transportation pulled up in front of our house to bring the Z06 back to Boston for winter hibernation. It left me sad, as exploring the very limits of the Z06 would take a long time, even for an experienced driver. I am very much looking forward to testing those limits at the tracks across the northeast once the snow melts away, and I am sure the Z06 is up to the task. The trip to the Dragon and the Corvette buying experience left a lasting and life-long positive impression. Bucket list check mark achieved!