(Photos: General Motors) The Corvette seems to always be working an uphill battle. It’s too plain. Too common. Not powerful enough. Not refined enough. Not threatening enough. 8/10ths of what it needed to be to be taken seriously. The retiree’s sports car. And so on, and so forth.
Chevrolet has a question for the doubters: “Got anything else you want to say?”
Unveiled in Dubai is the 2019 Corvette ZR1. This is the winged beast, one of two known prototypes that have been running around all of GM’s test facilities, and it’s the one that we were pretty much sure was going to appear. 755 horsepower and 715 ft/lbs of torque…yes, that’s above Hellcat numbers, but that isn’t the whole story. Remember, the Hellcat is strapped to one of three different beasts that all crest well above the two-ton mark and tend to be more for straight-line acceleration than anything else. This is a C7 Corvette that is now outfitted with one of two different aero packages that is incorporated into the chassis. A standard Corvette Stingray isn’t a car to trifle with in the corners…I speak from experience. It can handle itself just fine. The ZR1, then, should be nothing short of surgical in the right hands, no matter which downforce kit you go with. So, who is the ZR1 aimed at, besides who has the most money? You could look towards fans of the recently departed SRT Viper, for starters…something about this car’s timing feels just a touch like a good-bye with a middle finger wave to us. Or the person who wants to go Hellcat trolling…power-to-weight ratio is a beautiful thing, after all, and there’s no doubt that the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 steamrollers out back will try their best to keep a grip on the road.
But is this the first salvo in what’s about to be a barrage? Remember, there were two prototypes running around GM. The ZR1, and one other…the mythical mid-engined project that is still more questions than answers, but has been seen in camouflaged test car form.
Do you get the feeling that the Corvette team is aiming quite a bit higher than usual lately?
DUBAI — The King is returning, stronger than ever.
Chevrolet today introduced the 2019 Corvette ZR1, a supercar that pushes Corvette’s performance legacy with the highest power, greatest track performance and most advanced technology in its production history.
“I’ve never driven a Corvette like this before, and nobody else has either, because there’s never been one like this before,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Its unprecedented performance puts all other global supercars on notice that the ZR1 is back.”
The Corvette ZR1’s exclusive LT5 supercharged engine, which is rated at an SAE-certified 755 horsepower (563 kW) and 715 lb-ft of torque (969 Nm), is establishing a new benchmark in performance. Further, the ZR1 elevates Corvette’s track capability with two wind tunnel-honed aerodynamics packages, including an available High Wing that provides an estimated 950 pounds of downforce.
Most powerful ever
The ZR1’s LT5 6.2L V-8 engine advances Corvette’s supercharging legacy, which began with the 2009 sixth-generation ZR1 and continued with the 2015 seventh-generation Z06. The LT5 delivers the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle, thanks in part to a new, more-efficient intercooled supercharger system that offers 52 percent more displacement than the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. GM’s first dual-fuel-injection system, which employs primary direct injection and supplemental port injection, helps the LT5 achieve its record output.
Seven-speed manual and eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmissions are available with the LT5. It’s the first time an automatic transmission has been offered in a ZR1.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1’s aggressive appearance is driven by function, contributing to its distinction as the fastest production Corvette to date.
An all-new front fascia is designed to channel air for propulsion-system and drivetrain cooling, with four new radiators bringing the heat-exchanger total to 13. A special carbon-fiber “halo” hood is open in the middle to clear the LT5 engine’s supercharger/intercooler assembly. Additional features, including aero packages with stanchion-mounted wings, help push the ZR1 harder onto the track for more confident handling and faster lap times. Top speed of the ZR1 is over 210 mph.
“As the highest-performing Corvette ever, the ZR1’s design supports its capability in every way,” said Kirk Bennion, Exterior Design manager. “The new wings, for example, help generate more downforce without adding drag, enhancing road holding and top speed.”
The ZR1 will offer two aero packages: a standard rear Low Wing, which delivers the highest top speed and helps generate up to 70 percent more downforce than the Z06’s base aero package, and an available two-way-adjustable High Wing that offers maximum downforce on the track for the quickest lap times — about 60 percent more downforce than the Z06 with the available Z07 Performance Package. All models also feature a Chevrolet-first, downforce-enhancing front underwing.
The adjustable High Wing is part of the new ZTK Performance Package, which also includes a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tires, and specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning for greater cornering grip.
Both of the ZR1’s wings are tied into the chassis, like the Corvette Racing C7.R racecar, for strength and stability.
Sebring Orange Design Package
The Corvette ZR1 introduced today also debuted a dynamic, available Sebring Orange Design Package. Centered on its Sebring Orange Tintcoat exterior color, the package also includes orange brake calipers, orange rocker and splitter accent stripes, orange seat belts, orange interior stitching and unique, bronze aluminum interior trim.
The new design package complements the Corvette ZR1’s tradition of offering maximum performance with refinement and design distinction. The driver-focused, well-appointed cockpit includes standard leather-trimmed seats, with sueded microfiber inserts offered. Heated and vented Napa leather-trimmed seating is also available, as well as a carbon fiber-rimmed steering wheel, competition sport seats, Performance Data Recorder, Bose premium audio system and more.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 goes on sale next spring, poised to take on the world’s best.
It’s good to be the King.