Corvette ZR1: Return of the King


If you're going to go big, go very, very big: that's the recipe Chevrolet picked for the 2019 Corvette ZR1, and it's shaping up to be delicious. Today, Chevrolet has officially revealed the 2019 Corvette ZR1, which it says "pushes Corvette's performance legacy with the highest power, greatest track performance and most advanced technology in its production history".

The eight generation of America's most famous sports vehicle is expected to ditch its front-engine layout, putting the V8 in the middle to help the bow tie brand compete with the best European sports cars, including the Porsche 911, Ferrari 488 GTB and McLaren 720S.

"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. We weren't joking when we said that Porsche better watch out.

It needs the downforce to keep it on the road because under the bonnet is Chevrolet's new LT5 engine - a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 petrol boasting a staggering 563kW of power and 969Nm of torque. This engine is similar to the LT4 engine that is found in the Z06, but is now called the LT5, which harkens back to the C4 generation ZR-1.

Fast forward ten years, a restructured General Motors is thriving and Chevy's new Corvette, the C7, is its most controversial design yet. Good thing the new 'Vette ZR1 has variable-ratio steering, helping to make this compromise less of an issue.

The 2019 ZR1 will be offered with a choice of a 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match, or an 8-speed paddle-shift automatic. Interestingly, GM has not quoted any 0-60 times, although we'd guess that the automatic model would be the quicker of the two. With this wing, the auto won't be able to attain its estimated top speed of 336 km/h (210 mph), but will allow recording quicker lap times around a track.

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On the exterior there are some obvious changes that help facilitate the ZR1's speed. Indeed, the ZR1 has a total of 13 heat-exchangers, not to mention a special carbon-fiber "halo" hood with a gap for the supercharger and intercooler assembly. At the rear the standard ZR1 comes with a low set wing that provides 70 per cent more downforce than the Corvette Z06's aerodynamic package.

However, there'll also be a High Wing option, with a two-way adjustable wing. Stanchion-mounted wings are included on both variants, adding their own downforce, while a new fascia and four extra radiators boost cooling. The package also includes orange seat belts, orange contrast stitching, and bronze aluminum interior trim.

The ZR1 hasn't ditched its practical side in the pursuit of speed.

Unlike with the original Corvette ZR1, you can add lots of creature comforts to the 2019 version, including heated and ventilated front seats, a Bose premium audio system, and the ultimate social media bragging tool, a Performance Data Recorder.

. GM has not announced pricing yet, although it will certainly be priced higher than the Z06, which starts at around $80,000.

But the ZR1 isn't just about grunt, the Chevrolet engineers have tuned every element of the auto for maximum performance.