Just when you thought America’s favorite sports car couldn’t improve, along comes Corvette’s newest iteration of salivating engines to hike its world class standings. The new ZR1 boosts the envelope to more than 700 horsepower, joining the elite circle of Lamborghini and Ferrari exotics — for a lot less coin.
With four models to choose from, the seventh generation Vette presents a stunning set of wheels with stair-step modifications to its 6.2-liter V8, each step designed to match your penchant for speed.
Pros: Exhilarating performance, iconic styling, engine choice
Cons: Limited cargo, safety equipment, rear visibility
Four models are available as either a coupe or convertible: base Stingray ($56,590), Grand Sport ($70s), Z06 ($80s) and ZR1 ($122,095). Option packages will add $10-20,000. Relatively speaking though, the Vette is a bargain up against Porsche, Mercedes and Jaguar.
In addition, there are varying trim levels, one for the Stingray and Grand Sport and another for the Z06. The new ZR1 has it all — and more.
It’s worth noting that the standard equipment list is impressive, with power GT leather bucket seats, eight-inch touchscreen and Bose sound. A full menu of add-ons is available, and if you want to further customize your Vette, there are exterior, interior and suspension packages to individualize your ride.
Stingray and Grand Sport are powered by 455-460 horsepower, the latter with active exhaust system. The Z06 includes a supercharger that punches up 650 horsepower. The ZR1 supercharged tuning brings out an incredible 755 horsepower.
All models are rear-wheel drive with seven-speed manual gearbox standard. A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic is an available option, with paddle shifters.
Our Grand Sport test car was equipped with the preferred equipment group, a $12,000 set of options that includes a performance data and video recorder tied to navigation. A must-have for track use, it utilizes windshield-mounted camera gear and records laps with all the necessary data included. What a kick.
Even though our tester had the smaller engine with 460 horsepower, it hugged the road with its Magnetic Ride Control, an adaptive suspension system that adjusts ride parameters with selective driving modes. From start-up and beyond, the quad exhaust rumbles and screams in line with pedal pressure while Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 20-inch rears and 19-inch fronts, provide solid grip at all speeds.
Steering, braking and cornering maneuvers were precise with seemingly unlimited power. Our zero-to-60 track time was 3.6 seconds with the naturally aspirated V8. The Z06 with Z07 performance package makes it in 2.9 seconds, and the ZR1 with 100 more ponies is expected to make the mark in under 3 seconds.
Once securely fastened, the sports seats are both comfortable and supportive. We noticed some ankle knocking getting in and out of the roomy cabin. Storage is limited to a thin center compartment suitable for phones and keys. The trunk houses a golf bag and shoes with not much space left over.
Corvette designers are said to be planning a mid-engine platform for the 2020 model year. But for now, the company is settling for the fastest Corvette ever built.
Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at firstname.lastname@example.org.