2022-09-13 | New Roads Magazine
The all-new Corvette Z06 needed an air-piercing sound to match its performance and design. Here’s how engineers dialed in the perfect roar.
The roar of a high-performance sports car is visceral. So, when Chevrolet created the 2023 Corvette Z06 with the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8 ever — 670 horsepower and an 8600-rpm redline — they wanted the sound to be just as powerful.
That’s why Aaron Link, Corvette lead development engineer, and members of the project team devoted so much effort to perfecting the sound of the Z06, ensuring drivers can fully enjoy the power of the 5.5-liter dual overhead cam engine.
The Corvette’s traditional small-block V8 is known for its booming, bass-heavy sound, Link says. But the new engine, employing a flat-plane crankshaft, has an elemental scream. “The firing order of a flat-plane crankshaft engine inherently puts it in a different ‘sound category’ than our small-block Chevy. Even if we wanted to make this car sound like previous Corvette Z06s, physics obstructs it. So we embraced the fact that this was always going to be a new chapter in Corvette’s rich sound history, and I am confident it’s one for the ages,” Link says.
Everyone has a different idea of the perfect sound, but the Z06 team agreed on the same basic qualities. “We wanted a sound that could be felt, not just heard. One that pierced the air and carried on well after the car was seen, regardless of wind direction or where we were standing or tree cover,” Link says, “where I could close my eyes and hear it for miles.”
He says a flat-plane engine typically can produce an undesirable buzz sound that has to be minimized. The solution: two sets of exhaust tips next to each other in the middle of the car’s rear fascia. The resulting sound waves cancel each other out, eliminating the buzz.
The Z06 team also wanted to minimize what Link calls “air rush,” that jet engine–like tone usually caused by turbulence in a muffler with sharp angles. So, engineers designed a muffler with smoother bends and very short pipes.
Next, they expanded the pipe diameter of 2-3/4 inches to 3 inches. “That gives the sound waves more space and less back pressure to pass through a pipe,” Link says. The higher-pitched sound of a flat-plane V8 at higher engine speeds — and, again, the Z06 redlines at an outrageous 8600 rpm — is what this car shines at, and the team intently focused upon making the experience rewarding and memorable through sound.
Design done, the Z06 engineers turned to extensive testing and tweaking, including one last change to the exhaust’s internal baffle plates after team members noticed the sound “had lost some of its brilliance,” Link says.
Link knew the project was a success last summer when he saw video footage of the Z06 on a test run in Germany. You could still hear the car miles away from the filming site.
They scored the distinct sound they needed, one that Link says “leaves no doubt this is a different beast altogether.”
STORY: ADAM RITT / PHOTOGRAPHY: CLINT DAVIS / ILLUSTRATION: DR PROPOLUS