All-American supercar is a real crowd-pleaser at first press day
14 January 2008

GM boss Rick Wagoner gave the Corvette team a brief, explains designer Kirk Bennion: ‘What could you do if you upped the price to $100,000?’ The answer is the spectacular, supercharged 612bhp, 200mph-plus Corvette ZR1, which produces one bhp more than a Ferrari 599 yet costs well under half as much.This mega-'Vette provided a great deal of the buzz ahead of the Detroit show, and yet it also pretty well lived up to its billing when the covers came off at the Cobo Centre yesterday. During the build-up, a largely American crowd gathered to get a first look at the fastest car GM has ever produced. The ZR1's 107bhp power boost over the ZO6 Corvette comes, curiously, from a smaller 6.2-litre version of the 7.0-litre V8 used in the lesser ‘Vette Z06, but with a supercharger sitting between its banks. Accommodating an intercooler has produced a bulge in the bonnet, which Bennion and team decided should be see-through, the polycarbonate cover fractionally improving the driver’s sight-line down the bonnet, as well as providing a distinctive visual signature.Other identifiers, apart from garden-roller-sized tyres, include a substantially reworked front apron, new wings and air deflectors as well as a rear spoiler, all aimed at reducing lift, which drops by 29 per cent overall compared to the Z06. That should ensure rock-steady stability at over 200mph, with only a 6 per cent penalty in drag. The ZR1's bonnet, front wings, sill covers, splitter and roof are all lightweight carbonfibre to counter the slight rise in the car’s centre of gravity caused by the supercharger – it’s almost negated. The massive brake discs are carbonfibre, there’s a close-ratio gearbox in case the acceleration isn’t searing enough already, and the ZR1’s magnetic damping is claimed to produce a ride more compliant than the Z06’s.All this potentially sensational hardware can be yours for £80,000 or so late this year, a price surely low enough to compensate for a slightly disappointing interior finish.

Richard Bremner

Our Verdict

Chevrolet Corvette

This smaller, lighter, faster Chevrolet Corvette continues to fly the flag for the old-fashioned, all-American sports car

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