While the base model Corvette is no slouch itself, Chevrolet has been selling a higher performance edition known as the Z06 alongside it for several years.
The Z06 offered a larger motor, more power, better handling and subtle styling cues to set it apart from its stable mate. But with the horsepower wars waging out of control between Dodge and Ford, who recently upped the ante with the re-designed Viper and Mustang GT500 respectively, GM was forced to respond with an even more daring edition of the Corvette.
The new version of the sports car is based around the LS9 V8, which will be more powerful than any engine ever sold by Chevrolet. Generating 620 horsepower and 595 lb feet of torque, this monster tears up the asphalt through a 6 speed manual transmission.
Helping motivate this power bump is a Roots-type supercharged specifically engineered for the LS9 by Eaton. The supercharger allows the engine to benefit from a wide power band, and a charge cool system helps keep the entire system reliable under stress.
Like all Corvettes, the ZR1 has a completely lightweight body structure. The front fenders and hood are made from carbon fiber, and the hood boasts a polycarbonate ‘window’ that allows the engine to be admired even when parked.
Further performance enhancements include carbon-ceramic brakes hidden behind 19 and 20 inch wheels, and a suspension who’s firmness and response can be dialed in via magnetic ride control.
General Motors has put all of their eggs in one basket with the Corvette. By concentrating on their one flagship sports car, in the last 10 years they have managed to raise it up from the status of ‘also-ran’ to that of a world class exotic beater.
With Ferrari-like performance already being offered by the Z06 model of the Corvette, the capabilities of the ZR1 will most likely be out of this world.
There will be some very nervous pasta rockets cruising down Santa Monica this summer when they see those distinctive Corvette headlights cruising up behind them at a stop light.