Chevy is already looking to the future for the Corvette when it comes to revolutionizing power and hybrid technology, but in the immediate present, they haven’t forgotten about what sports car enthusiasts and drivers of today want out of a Corvette. The 2021 Corvette may not pack the sort of specialty features that are rumored in the upcoming 2023 outing. However, it’s still fast enough and powerful enough to have most enthusiasts itching to hit up a Chevy dealership in Indianapolis in order to try their hand at taking the 2021 model year Chevy to the track and speeding around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a few laps.
Z51 Package: Maximum Performance
Much of what’s returned for the 2021 model year Corvette comes from the advancements of the illustrious eighth-generation C8 run that was introduced back in 2019. This is certainly a good thing, given that Chevy knocked it out of the park with the C8, and they seem to be moving their best foot forward when it comes to increasingly upping the Corvette’s game in a number of areas. One such area is the Z51 package, which buffs up the already impressive powertrain of the 2021 model to produce some extra oomph.
The Z51 package takes the 490 horsepower, and 460 pound-feet of torque produced by the massive naturally aspirated 6.2-liter LT2 V8 and ramps up the output to 495 horsepower. This is all thanks to the performance exhaust system, which helps improve airflow and produce cleaner intake/exhaust of the gases to enhance overall performance.
When the exhaust valves are working cohesively through the manifold during the combustion process, any excess gases or residual airflow can hamper performance if the back-pressure is too high and there’s not enough airflow through the exhaust system to expel said gases. The performance exhaust can keep the airflow clean and also work to scavenge any efficiency through a vacuum, so there’s no wasted motion from the valves.
With the performance exhaust system, you’re opening up more power and engine efficiency, which is perfect for those who want to get the max out of the 2021 Corvette. Use this package to make your Corvette fit the requirements for track use.
Z51 Improved Suspension/Drivetrain
To handle that extra torque and horsepower, the Z51 package also comes equipped with a performance suspension, complete with a special Z51 rear spoiler and a front splitter. While the spoiler and splitter might seem superfluous, they’re actually essential for maximizing the velocity of the Corvette to improve the aerodynamic downforce at high speeds.
The Z51 package also comes with a performance-enhanced rear axle ratio, which works in conjunction with the electronic limited-slip differential (the eLSD). The rear axle ratio is bumped up to 3.80:1, which means that it’s making three and eight-tenths of a rotation from the driveshaft for the rear axle to turn once. In essence, it means that the performance rear axle ratio increases the torque for the Corvette ever-so-slightly to eke out better acceleration times.
As mentioned, the performance rear axle ratio works in conjunction with the electronic limited-slip differential in order to stabilize the additional torque being supplied to the axle to reduce the loss of traction or unstable wheel rotation. The eLSD operates from a number of sensors that monitor the condition of the vehicle’s drivetrain, specifically the driveshaft and axles, ensuring that there is no wheel slippage during turns and that traction is appropriately applied during high-speed maneuvers. Basically, it means that the Corvette isn’t being fed extra power just so it can go to waste on grip-loss or unintentional spin-outs.
The Z51 package is rounded out with performance tires for the front and rear, as well as a heavy-duty cooling system to ensure that the engine, transmission, and stack heat exchanger are kept cool. The three radiators – two of which are located on each side of the vehicle – send cool air into the powertrain compartments at the back of the vehicle to keep the components cool. The heat exchange unit is hooked up to a coolant loop in order to provide additional airflow into the vital components of the vehicle, meaning that as the 2021 Corvette is pushed to its limits, there is still plenty of cool air circulating through the housed powertrain, so it never overheats even under the most extreme conditions.
Magnetic Ride Control
While much of the discussion has been on the Z51 performance package features, the addition of the Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) technology being made available for all trims without the Z51 package is quite noteworthy. This is an exciting option available for gearheads and sports car enthusiasts who want to amp up their rides. If you had plans of putting the 2021 Corvette through its paces, but you didn’t want to spend extra for the Z51 performance package, the Magnetic Ride Control system is a great way to gain the dampening advantages for the suspension without having to pay for any additional bells and whistles.
The MRC operates from the core functionality of magnetorheological damping fluid, which sees the shock dampeners filled with a synthetic hydrocarbon oil that contains the magnetorheological iron particles. The oil is located within a compression tube on each wheel, where a piston works as the shock absorber inside the tube. Within the center of the piston are two electromagnetic coils and two fluid conduits on each side of the coils.
Sensors are located within the dampeners so that they can monitor and dynamically react to changes in driving conditions and are operated by an electronic control unit. When the sensors detect that the vehicle is moving over surfaces or encountering a lot of bumps in the road, the sensors tell the electromagnets inside the piston to activate, which creates a magnetic field within the iron particles flowing through the tube, turning the liquid more viscous. In turn, the viscosity creates more resistance for the piston, thus dampening any shock that the wheels incur. The magnets activate and deactivate at micro-fractions, creating a dynamic alternative to traditional shock dampeners.
Built-In Apple Carplay/Android Auto
Yes, I know. Some vehicles have been adding wireless smart device functionality of the Apple Carplay and Android Auto variety for years now. It’s even standard in some luxury SUVs, crossovers, and even sedans. However, it’s a bad thing to knock a designer for including highly requested features as a standard update, which is why I’m happy to see it standard. Chevy decided to make Apple Carplay and Android Auto wireless functionality standard built-in features for all trim levels of the 2021 model year Corvette.
For those of you scratching your heads thinking that you’ve always been connecting your Android or Apple device to your Corvette in recent years, the reality is that many Chevy vehicles do already support Android and Apple smart devices, but usually through wired connections. The ability to wirelessly connect your smart device to Corvette means you don’t have to worry about cords or cables getting the way, especially with the added ability to wirelessly charge your smartphone while on the go.
The best part about it is being able to make hands-free calls, listen to music, or even view map data or messages without having to fumble around with your phone while driving. It’s a great way to avoid unnecessary driving distractions and a much-needed upgrade for the 2021 Corvette, a car where you certainly don’t want to be distracted or have your hands preoccupied while driving. That would ruin the fun.
Corvette Features for the Win
These are just some of the new features and options present in the 2021 Corvette, but they’re certainly some of the most exciting. This powerful little car was already perfect for drivers with a need for speed. However, the addition of some of the impressive 2021 features and packages makes the Corvette a crowd-favorite. So, embrace your inner speed-demon and experience some of the peaks of Chevy performance and design in the 2021 Corvette.