This smaller, lighter, faster Chevrolet Corvette continues to fly the flag for the old-fashioned, all-American sports car
What is it?
It’s the fastest Corvette, the ZR1. About which a couple of noteworthy things: Chevrolet's own website lists its competitors as the Ferraris F430 and 599 GTB. And its sixth gear will both drag it along on idle, yet also take it to 205mph, providing worthwhile acceleration across any of 175 different miles per hour.
Unlike the erstwhile fastest current Corvette, the Z06, the ZR1 uses a 6.2- rather than a 7.0-litre 16-valve V8, but with a supercharger nestled between its banks. The addition of the blower plus some extra equipment means that, at 1528kg it's heavier than the Z06 despite having a carbonfibre roof, splitter and inner bonnet.
What’s it like?
Don't let the additional weight bother you: with 638bhp and 604lb ft the ZR1 could weigh as much as the moon and still shift. As it is, is has a 0-62mph time of 3.6sec, which it would itself better were it not for a 51:49 weight distribution that limits its traction compared to mid- or rear-engined supercars. Very few proper series production cars have the ZR1's kind of urge, or its Nascar-aping noise once the exhaust valves open.
ZR1s get magnetically-controlled dampers on their double-wishbone suspension, which retains carbonfibre leaf springs at the rear. The ride's generally composed, although the 335/25 section rear tyres make a racket. Shifting the suspension from 'tour' to 'sport' mode tightens body control to the detriment of a ride that runs out of ideas more quickly than a fast 911 or 599 but is far from poor.
At its limit, it'll nudge into understeer but can be pushed/bunged into a slide that's easier to hold than in either the Porsche or the Ferrari. Its engine-dominated slidey nature is closer to an Aston DBS's. It steers positively, too, and its carbon-ceramic brakes haul it up impressively.
The interior? There are too many mass-market plastics, a crude infotainment display and ruched leather seats that look like they've seen a few miles when they haven't. They fail to make up for it in lateral support either, but they're comfortable during cruising which, with its leggy gearing, is something the ZR1 still does adeptly. More so on big open roads – being a left-hooker and 1927mm wide (before mirrors) limit its B-road ability.
Should I buy one?
Although the ZR1 feels a little less sophisticated than its European rivals, don’t automatically discount it on those grounds. Nothing that offers its pace also comes at its price.
At a touch over £100,000, the ZR1 undercuts cars like the Aston Vantage V12 or Porsche 911 GT2 by about £30,000, and big Astons and Ferraris by vastly more again. Put its speed, capability and price together and it’s harder to overlook the big-hearted Corvette.