- the corvette c8's z51 performance package has been designed specifically to enable the new mid-engine sports car to run continuous racetrack laps without overheating or losing braking efficiency while going faster and handling better than the base c8.
- the z51 pack adds more effective cooling for the engine and brakes, different suspension components, stickier tires, and aerodynamic aids that increase downforce.
- it costs $5000 and can be paired with the optional fe4 magnetic selective ride control dampers and the performance traction management system for even better racetrack performance.
if you plan on driving your c8 corvette stingray on the track, we have three characters for you: z51. the $5000 performance package includes a comprehensive list of mechanical, aerodynamic, cooling, and tire upgrades that not only enable the corvette to survive track use, but thrive on it.
chevy engineers have developed the z51 package across several generations of corvettes, and we can attest from our recent racetrack throw down of the c8 versus the c7 that their institutional knowledge pays off. here's what's included in the z51 performance package:
all z51s come with aggressive michelin pilot sport 4s zp summer tires, sized 245/35zr-19 up front and 305/30zr-20 in back. they replace the base model's standard michelin ultra-high-performance all-season tires of the same size.
revised suspension tuning
firmer body control is needed at track cornering speeds, so the z51 model's control-arm suspension runs higher front and rear spring rates and significantly firmer passive (non-adjustable) dampers. we highly recommend all z51s be fitted with the brilliant magnetorheological adaptive dampers of the $1895 fe4 magnetic selective ride control system. the fe4 system's three dry-weather modes (tour, sport, and track) enable z51-equipped cars to ride with exceptional smoothness on the road and still deliver race-car handling on the track. chevy says that the passive dampers on the base c8 provide a tauter ride than the fe4 dampers do when set to their middle sport mode. and you're stuck with that all the time.
a splitter fitted to the lower leading edge of the front bumper cover and a tricky multiplane decklid spoiler add 400 pounds of downforce that improves high-speed stability. chevrolet hasn't disclosed at what speed those 400 pounds accrue, but we'd guess that it's high, probably in the neighborhood of 150 mph. small v-shaped deflectors under the nose direct air around the front tires and are specific to the z51 package.
increased cooling capacity
track driving works the engine harder and gets it hotter, so chevrolet stuffs a third radiator into the air intake on the driver's side to increase the cooling capacity. it works with the two standard radiators located on either side of the nose. the z51 is also equipped with a transmission cooler. the brakes get additional thermal protection as well: built-in ducting in the nose cone funnels air to the front brakes. a pair of rear under-car brake scoops is included with each z51; they must be attached to the rear lower control arms by the dealer or owner to route air to the rear brakes.
for more consistent racetrack braking performance, the z51 is equipped with larger brake rotors compared with the base c8. front rotor size goes from 12.6 inches to 13.6; rear rotors expand from 13.3 inches to 13.8.
shorter final-drive ratio
chevy fits the z51 with a shorter (numerically higher) final-drive ratio to improve acceleration. base c8s get a 4.89:1 final-drive ratio, whereas z51s are fitted with a 5.17.
electronic limited-slip differential
corvette z51s benefit from an electronically controlled limited-slip differential that's at work even when the stability control system is fully disabled. the diff works to stabilize the rear end during cornering, but it's also calibrated to help the corvette step off smartly from a standstill (i.e. without wheelspin) when accelerating hard while making 90-degree turns—as when pulling into traffic from a gas station driveway or a shopping mall exit lane.
performance traction management
another good reason to order the optional fe4 damper package is that it also provides the performance traction management (ptm) system. ptm enables the driver to fine-tune how much the stability-control system intervenes in track mode. settings for wet and dry conditions allow for a range of rear-tire slip during acceleration, particularly when exiting a corner. bottom line: ptm makes the c8's handling ever more foolproof.
the z51 package includes a dual-mode exhaust, which bumps horsepower from 490 to 495 and torque from 465 pound-feet to 470. those are small gains, but any increase in power in a chassis so adept at handling it is a net positive.