ZR1 – named in tribute to the Corvette’s creator, legendary racer and engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov – is the ultimate Corvette nameplate and has been since the first Zee (never zed…) R1 in 1970.
And the new one announced this week really lives up to its billing, with a mighty 745bhp and 715 lb ft of torque from its supercharged V8, and a top speed, in new low-drag form, said to be 210mph plus. No acceleration times yet but the next-fastest ‘Vette, the Z06 with 650bhp, is credited with a 3.4 seconds 0-62mph time, so any ZR1 has to beat that.
All this is enough for lots of Chevy hyperbole of the “the king is back” and “look out Europe” kind. But lest we forget: 745bhp is more than any McLaren or Lamborghini currently offers, and more than all Ferraris except one.
The ZR1’s engine is the familiar supercharged 6.2-litre bent eight LT5 engine. In this form – as most powerful production Chevy ever – it gets a bigger intercooler for the Eaton supercharger and new direct-injection system. You can have your ZR1 with a seven-speed manual ‘box or – for the first time – in automatic form, with an eight-speed self-shifter and flappy paddles. In the UK – if it comes here, no word on that thus far – it will be left-hand drive only.
Any current model Corvette looks good (we think, anyway) but the ZR1 tops the lot of them, especially with the new big wing on the back. This is a big wing, standing tall on stanchions engineered as part of the chassis, and is said to provide 431 kg of downforce at speed. Along with its front splitter, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tyres, and specific chassis tuning this High Wing version is the most track-focused ‘Vette yet.