It sounds absolutely mean with the flat-plane-crank V8!

Anyone else experiencing a bit of déjà vu here? A year ago the world was Corvette crazy, leading up to the mid-July unveiling of the new mid-engined C8 model. Now, the motoring world is getting excited over another C8 Corvette, and we have our first solid look at what should be the next Z06 – centre exhaust pipes and all.

As you can see from the series of spy shots below, Chevrolet was caught not just with a Z06 test vehicle, but with two of them, not to mention a small fleet of benchmark vehicles including a Porsche 911 GT2 RS and a standard C8 Stingray. The first camouflaged prototype in the lineup appears to be a standard Z06, followed by a Z06 convertible. It’s tricky since the ‘Vette now uses a folding hardtop, but look closely at the roofline on the second prototype and you’ll see the breaks in the roof. You’ll also see the telltale double hump just behind the roof, where the heavy camouflage starts.

Gallery: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Spy Photos

Of course, the big news here is the centre-exit exhaust that’s absolutely impossible to miss. We heard rumors that the next-generation Z06 would nix the Stingray's corner-exit setup for a set of pipes in the middle, and though this is obviously a hacked-up test vehicle with a standard C8 lower fascia, these images confirm that some kind of centre-exit system will grace the Z06. Whether it remains this curious setup of two large and two small pipes remains to be seen – it’s likely Chevrolet engineers are still evaluating specific designs. It’s also possible one set of pipes here are merely decoys.

Regardless, the pipes will emit a sound never before heard coming from a street Corvette. That’s because the engine should be a 5.5-litre flat-plane-crank V8, sporting double overhead camshafts and spinning into the stratosphere. It will be based on the race engine used in the Corvette C8.R, and fresh spy video (at the top of the article) accompanies the photo gallery to give us an aural delight as one of the prototypes speeds away.

How do we know for sure this is the new Z06 and not some strange Stingray test mule? Aside from the centre exhaust, the rear wheels and tyres are considerably wider. The solid wheel covers are likely hiding new carbon fibre wheels, and look closely at the rear camouflage around the taillights. The rear vents below the lights are wider and positioned lower, no doubt part of the aero changes the Z06 will undergo.

When will see the car revealed? Coronavirus certainly has things upended in the development realm, so we aren’t expecting to see the Z06 until next year at the earliest, released as a 2022 model. That said, we so hope we’re wrong and it shows up later this year.

Source: Automedia