From £62,996
Fastest Corvette is dominated by its engine and phenomenal pace

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.

Update: Chevrolet reveals the new track-focused Corvette Grand Sport at the Geneva Motorshow

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.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Peter Cavellini 27 January 2010

Re: Corvette ZR1

Not got the "CACHE" of the name Corvette, has it, and i bet you'd spend your £100K on something a bit more interesting, wouldn't you?

fhp11 27 January 2010

Re: Corvette ZR1

Peter Cavellini wrote:
Caddilac's CTS comes here with the wheel on the wrong side

The CTS is sold here in right hand drive? As is most of their range. Only the Escalade and XLR aren't offered in RHD here. The BLS, CTS, STS + SRX were all offered in RHD.

Peter Cavellini 9 January 2010

Re: Corvette ZR1

Well Shomann,if it's such a bargain, why like other car of it's ilk is it not made in right hand drive?, if it's that good then Uncle Sam would've had it over here decades ago, the Corvette is as usual a big engine in a relatively light chassis/bodywork, not very well built, even Caddilac's CTS comes here with the wheel on the wrong side, no, if your going to sell cars here, make them with the steeringwheel on th correct side for the country!