Corvette's ZR1 embodies the best and the worst of America. It's brutally powerful but not always under control. It dazzles with performance, aggression and confidence, yet it could be considered a little vulgar and excessively plastic if you put it in a room full of Europeans. But there's no question, it's a hell of a lot of fun.
In Dubai over the weekend, Chevrolet unveiled the much-anticipated 2019 model of the top dog in the Corvette family. The fastest and most powerful Corvette ever made, the new ZR1 looks like an absolute beast.
The engine, a gas-guzzling LT5 6.2-liter V8, uses an intercooled supercharger that pushes 52 percent more air than the one on the Z06 to smash out a brutal 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque (563 kW / 969 Nm). To get the power figures up, the design team has used GM's first ever dual fuel injection system. The carbon cover of the supercharger pokes through a "halo" hole in the hood to establish dominance over the rest of the Corvette line, and with four more radiators than the previous model, there's now a whopping 13 heat exchangers in the engine bay.
Naturally, as a ZR1, it comes with a 7-speed manual gearbox, a nice one with Active Rev Match for downshifting. But in response to a growing segment of customers who've got no idea how to drive stick, as well as the fact that quick-shifting autos are demonstrably better these days for the majority of drivers, the 2019 becomes the first ZR1 that can be optioned with an 8-speed paddle shift automatic.
In terms of aerodynamics, it's horses for courses. With the standard low rear wing, the car is capable of more than 210 miles per hour (338 km/h) in a straight line. If you're more about the cornering, you can option the large High Wing package that slows it down a little, but adds significant downforce for hard cornering, as well as maximizing the visual punch in the face kicked off by those signature cannon exhausts.
Aeros have been enhanced elsewhere too, with a front underwing on all models boosting downforce and grip, and if you go for that high wing in the ZTK performance package, you'll get a carbon-tipped front splitter too, as well as racier tires and magnetic ride control tuning for the suspension.
Interior-wise, it's available with the choice of regular leather seats, heated/vented leather seats, or competition sports seats, as well as other options like performance dataloggers and a Bose high-end sound system.
As for the looks, well, these things are always subjective, but from some angles it's got a fair bit of Nissan GT-R, or other high-end Japanese sportscar about it. The front underwing and grille look like they owe a small debt to the Lamborghini Huracan. From other angles, it's apple-pie American.
Is it excessive? Sure. Is it outrageous? Not by any means, in a world where cars like the Hennessey Venom V5 stalk the bitumen. It'll be reasonably priced in the scheme of things; previous models sat around the US$125,000 mark, and if the 2019 ZR1's pricing stays in the ballpark, that's a pretty impressive whack of horsepower for your money.
It's also, in the past, proven itself a half decent daily driver when it's not chewing holes in the road. The 2019 Corvette ZR1 is set to go on sale next spring.
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