2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Photo credit: RICHARD PRINCE
Photo credit: RICHARD PRINCE

From Car and Driver

We also learned that the ZR1’s mufflers are smaller and their flaps slam open earlier than a Z06’s, waking the dead from Milford to Sleetmute. And the LS9’s accelerative violence will be terrifying to anyone who hasn’t saddled up a Tomahawk cruise missile. Many passengers will simply freak out. Even engineers who’ve done thousands of miles in ZR1s stiffened up and went for the handholds when we floored it (okay, maybe it was just us).

Exactly 170 pounds heavier than the Z06-most recently, 3180 pounds on our scale-the ZR1, GM claims, will knock big, hairy 10ths off the 505-hp Z06’s times. GM also says the ZR1 will rip to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, to 100 mph in 7.0 seconds, and through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds at 131 mph. It’ll go 205 mph and pull 1.05 g on a skidpad.


We don’t doubt it. Uh-uh. No sir.

Vague? Floppy? Here, too, the ZR1 seems to stride past the Z06. To help suck up the steering flex, engineers replaced an aluminum steering-column shaft with a stiffer steel link, a change for all ’09 Corvettes. There are also ZR1-specific bushing changes in the suspension, as well as a new variable-ratio steering rack that enlivens the response.

But perhaps the most credit for the ZR1’s feistier helm should go to the Michelin ­Pilot Sport PS2 run-flats. In comparative tire tests during the ZR1’s development, GM engineers say they were “blown away” by the Michelins. We felt a breeze, too. The ZR1’s steering still doesn’t have the leanness or data-bit flow of a Porsche 911’s, but placing and holding the nose where it’s needed is easier and takes less guesswork and prayer. Tail twitch is more control­lable, and the Brembo carbon-ceramic rotors (15.5 inches front, 15.0 rear) and monoblock calipers have the familiar, progressive bite of iron brakes without much danger of fade or shimmy.

On a pizza-pocked public road, the ZR1 rumbles more quietly on its wider tires and shows less body heaving and impact crash than the Z06. An early “Attaboy!” seems in order for the Magnetic Selective Ride Control, the system of fast-as-electrons variable shock absorbers that costs $1995 on the base Corvette, is not available on the Z06, and comes standard on ZR1s. One cool nuance: On hard launches, the computer turns rear rebound to zero to hold the back end down for better traction. Yet, flip as we might, we couldn’t tell much difference between the ZR1’s sport and touring settings.

The double-plate clutch is light, just an undetectable few ounces stiffer than the Z06’s, GM confirms. Rollouts and upshifts happen with doughy smoothness. A long throttle pedal puts the Hulk trigger toward the back, so you can cruise lazily in the ZR1 through town returning perhaps 20 mpg. (GM boasts that the ZR1 is the thriftiest 600-hp car on the market, so back off, Greenpeace!)

All this Ferrari-stomping power and Z06-shaming refinement comes in two basic flavors, order code 1ZR for $105,000 (including the $1700 gas-guzzler levy) and the 3ZR for $10,000 more. The latter adds a Bose sound system, navigation, and a leather dash wrap. Chrome wheels ($2000), extra-cost paint ($300 to $750), and Corvette museum delivery ($490) are the only other options. GM figures it can build 1800 copies a year if the current worm-eaten market will take them.

A few years ago GM management wondered what a $100,000 Corvette would be like. You have the answer. If only they had thought up a similar trick for the Omega Brougham.


You Might Also Like