Electrification is the future of the auto industry, but friends, things are still pretty good in the world of combustion power. If anything, ICE’s last rush is delivering some of the best performance cars yet. And we need look no further than the new 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the latest Porsche 911 GT3.
By some happy coincidence, I found myself behind the wheel of a 911 GT3, in Touring form, a few weeks before attending a first drive event for the new Z06. So while it’s not a direct, one-to-one comparison to describe an old colleague, “Some people like Cooney dogs, some people like Cravers. Let’s talk about what each one has.” What’s good with
Shared approach, different results
The 911 GT3 and Corvette Z06 are similar in spirit, building on their respective automakers’ motorsport backgrounds to improve road performance. That means new, model-specific engines that headline the star-studded lineup.
For the 911, the 4.0-liter flat-six shared with the GT3 Cup racer sits in place of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter. A six-speed manual is standard, while Porsche’s excellent seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is a no-cost option available on a Touring model for the first time (and was fitted to my tester). Its 502 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque are plenty, but holy moly, the real headline is the epic 9,000-rpm redline.
The Z06’s powertrain is, somehow, even more race-focused. The new LT6, a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 with a flat air crank, has spent several seasons powering the Corvette C8.R racer in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and per Chevy (grain of salt). Which is the only real difference between. Race engines and road engines comply with regulations.
The engine shares a basic architecture and subsystems, though the production LT6 has a higher redline and more power: 670 hp and 460 lb-ft, with an 8,600-rpm redline. Unlike the GT3, an eight-speed dual-clutch is the only way to fly with the Z06, which can automatically reject it with wipers.
Both cars adopt firmer suspensions, with the 911 going for a double wishbone front derived from Porsche’s racing efforts. The Z06, meanwhile, uses trim-specific tuning for its magnetic dampers. Lighter wheels and available carbon ceramics are the order of the day, and can dramatically reduce unsprung weight. Mechanical grip also improves – the Z06 has the widest wheel/tire package ever installed in a Corvette and is available with super-sticky Michelin Cup 2R tires. The 911 also features wide tires with high-performance summer compound as standard. Street-legal track tires are also available on the GT3 for the first time outside of the RS line.
Neither car goes wild with their cabin, though. And while there’s more extreme exterior styling, the GT3 Touring and standard Z06 are quite different from their lesser counterparts. The uninitiated will know. Some Any of these are with the car, but they will need a fan to get them out of the herd. The non-Touring GT3 trims the former with a larger rear wing, while the Z06’s available carbon aero package adds a matte front splitter, a lower spoiler that extends into the car, and a larger wing of its own. Is. Porsche claims downforce is 50 percent higher than the previous GT3, while Chevy says the Z06 will generate more than 700 pounds of downforce at 186 mph.
What should you drive on the road?
Clearly, both cars perform shockingly well in the real world. For warm-climate owners, they shouldn’t shy away from a daily Z06 or 911 GT3 Touring either. But while the Corvette’s magnetic dampers provide a better, more comfortable ride, the 911’s narrower tires (255 front/315 rear vs. 275 front/345 on the Z06) lead to a slight reduction in road noise.
But the biggest reason the 911 works every day is down to its cabin – it’s got a lot of space. The Z06, like all C8 Corvettes, has a continuous single cabin and limited cargo space. The Corvette’s trump card, though, is the available hardtop convertible model and the removable roof panel on the coupe, so every Z06 has open-air interior capability. Those differences aside, these two cars are pretty close in real-world use.
What should you run on the track?
As with their real-world use cases, the Z06 and 911 GT3 are closely matched on the track. But since I only drove the Corvette on a closed course, I have to give it the nod here, even if there is no asterisk. The Z06 is at its best and most distinctive not in base form, but with the optional Z07 and carbon aero packages, which add about $15,000 to the starting price. Aside from the 911’s carbon-ceramic brakes (which cost $9,210 more than the full $8,995 Z07 package), the GT3 has nothing to add.
So equipped, the Z06 is wildly capable and surprisingly accessible. Thanks to the excellent Performance Traction Management system, it’s easy to fine-tune how the Z06 will handle the track without removing the safety net entirely. On the other hand, and when I only drive it on public roads, the 911 feels more focused. There are only three driving modes, and stability control is less configurable.
The GT3 also feels more runny when you’re not going hard. The stiff, heavy brake pedal is a reminder that the pro drivers are real athletes, and the steering feels great in almost every situation. The Z06’s steering lacks feedback and, even on the track, feels a little underpowered. The GT3 weighs naturally and demands some physicality – it’s fun in a more analogue, serious way.
If you have to make this decision, consider yourself lucky.
There really isn’t a bad choice between the two. And while you shouldn’t let objective things like price sway you into one camp or the other, there’s no getting around the Z06’s more affordable price tag. Starting at $106,695, including a $1,395 destination charge, the Z06 is a full base Stingray for less than the $172,450 (including $1,450 destination and $1,300 gas-guzzler) 911 GT3. That said, aside from the $9,210 charge for carbon-ceramic brakes, the 911 is pretty awesome out of the box. The Z06, meanwhile, has three distinct trims, and essentially requires an extra $15,000 to reach its final form with the Z07 and carbon aero packages.
The Z06 wows with its mid-engine shape, flat-plane engine, amazing on-road comfort, and impressive accessibility. The 911 GT3 feels like a race car – strong and serious, but also perfectly engaging in everyday situations. If you have to choose between these cars, know that I envy you on a deep and eternal level.
|Explanations||2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06||2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring|
|engine:||5.5-liter V8||4.0 liter H6|
|Output:||670 horsepower / 460 pound-feet||502 horsepower / 346 pound-feet|
|transfer:||Eight speed dual clutch||Seven speed dual clutch|
|Drive Type:||Rear wheel drive||Rear wheel drive|
|0-60 mph:||2.6 seconds||3.7 seconds|
|High speed:||189 MPH||197 MPH|
|weight:||3,434 pounds||3,164 pounds|
|Cargo Volume:||TBD||4.6 cubic feet|
|Base Price:||$105,300 + $1,395 floor||$169,700 + $1,450 floor|