The Corvette is the quintessential American sports car, residing at the top of the Chevrolet lineup as the brand’s highest performance offering. Today, Chevy’s halo car rises to new heights with the premiere of the all-new 2019 Corvette ZR1 Coupe and Convertible. Although rumors have been circulating among auto pundits about an upcoming mid-engine ‘Vette, this new ZR1 remains a traditional front-engine, rear-drive powerhouse — as many think it should be.
“I’ve never driven a Corvette like this before, and nobody else has either, because there’s never been one like this before,” said General Motors Executive Vice President Mark Reuss, who is responsible for GM’s global product development, purchasing and supply chain and a licensed racer. “Its unprecedented performance puts all other global supercars on notice that the ZR1 is back.”
ZR1 Is Back
Production of the previous ZR1 ended in 2013, coinciding with the rollout of the current-generation Corvette. At the time, the ZR1 was the most powerful and highest-performing Corvette in the company’s history. Not anymore, thanks to the all-new C7 ZR1.
The ZR1 Coupe had a soft debut a few weeks ago at a special event in Dubai, but Chevrolet fittingly chose the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show in sunny Southern California as the venue to roll out the ZR1 Convertible. This is the first convertible version of the ZR1 since the original in 1970. Given the new ZR1’s strong aluminum chassis, minimal structural changes were required to create the convertible, adding only 60 pounds overall.
The new ZR1’s LT5 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine rates a stunning 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. The increased performance is largely due to a more efficient supercharger that offers 52 percent more displacement that the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. With that much volume, the ZR1 boasts the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle. Top speed is expected to exceed 210 mph.
The C7 ZR1’s standard transmission will be a 7-speed manual gearbox; however, an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will also be available. Corvette purists take note: This will be the first time a ZR1 has been offered with an automatic transmission.
Of course, stopping power is just as vital as horsepower, and the ZR1 delivers. Massive 15-inch carbon-ceramic brake rotors occupy all four corners. Up front are 6-piston aluminum calipers, with 4-piston calipers in the rear.
The Corvette ZR1 receives an all-new front fascia that functions beyond mere styling. The new nose is designed to channel more air for better engine and drivetrain cooling. To create space for the supercharger/intercooler assembly, the special carbon fiber hood opens in the middle.
This new Corvette will be available with two different aero packages. The standard “low wing” generates up to 70 percent more downforce than the ZR1’s standard aero package; it also helps the ‘Vette achieve its highest speeds. The second aero package will have a two-way adjustable “high wing” that creates up to 950 pounds of downforce, and its purpose is to deliver the best track times.
The high wing is part of a new ZTK Performance Package that also includes a front splitter with carbon fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and special tuning for the chassis. The suspension package incorporates GM’s Magnetic Ride Control to provide the best possible grip.
Chevrolet also introduces the Sebring Orange Design Package for the ZR1. The eye-catching Sebring Orange Tintcoat exterior is complemented by orange brake calipers, orange rocker and splitter accent stripes, orange seat belts and orange interior stitching.
The all-new Corvette ZR1 goes on sale next spring. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the ZR1 coupe is $119,995. The convertible MSRP will start at $123,995.