This is one of the perks of being employed in the automotive magazine industry. When you have the keys to a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for one week in Southern California, there are few activities (other than absolutely abusing it at the track) better than taking a long weekend to gingerly drive it up California’s Highway 101, or the Pacific Coast Highway, in fall weather. It’s not one of those questions you have to ask more than once.
The checkered flag of the drive was the infamous Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, though we were given explicit instructions not to track the car. No problem, that’s what the roads up there are for.
We aren’t going to spend a lot of time explaining the Z06 because you’d have to be living under a rock for the past two years to not know that the 2016 model is rated at 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful production car ever offered from the entire General Motors brand. We will tell you that we had a stripper Torch Red 1LT, seven-speed manual that was also sans the Z07 package. The Z07 package would have been a nice experience, but we aren’t going to kick her out of bed for not being properly dressed.
It’s already been proven that the eight-speed automatic delivers better fuel economy, and is generally faster in every means of straight line performance driving. Though there is no replacing that special feeling downshifting the seven-speed manual as it precisely rev-matches every single gear, making you look like a race car superstar while passing hordes of SoCal Prius drivers. Why the hell would you just push the clutch in and coast up to a stop light when you can be blessed with such acoustic bliss with a simple downshift?
A drive up the coast of California in one of America’s baddest supercars is one of those life events that you will pass on to your children. There wasn’t a moment that you couldn’t find a smile on our faces, well, maybe except when we got stuck behind slow cars in the coastal mountain twisties. We are in the peak of the modern musclecar era, and we all hope it will get better from here, though I do feel like one of these days I will be saying, “Back in good ol’ 2015 there were these amazing vehicles called musclecars …”
Long live the evolution of the musclecar.