Over the weekend, and at the Dubai Motor Show for some reason, Chevrolet unveiled their most extreme, most powerful version of the C7 Corvette. As was leaked late last week, the new ZR1 is now clearly more track-focused as well, sporting some noticeable degree of extra aerodynamic and downforce-generating components.
Under the skin, though, there aren’t all that many changes over the Corvette Z06, a car that’s now demoted in the American sports car pecking order. The front track has been widened over slightly to improve front-end bite, but otherwise the suspension package is largely carried over.
To the Corvette connoisseur, though, one might notice that quite a number of the new aero bits are also available on the Z06 as part of an optional track pack. However, not only are they standard here but are now tuned to deliver 70 percent more downforce on average. It also features a Chevrolet-first, downforce-enhancing front underwing.
To the buyer, they will get a choice of two aero flavours on their new ZR1 which will vary the aggressiveness of the fixed rear wing. By default it will come with a ‘Low Wing’ setting, enabling the highest top speed achievable for the ZR1 (in excess of 338km/h), but in High Wing configuration that’s reduced to greatly improve rear end grip.
The added downforce comes as part of a new ZTK Performance Pack, which also adds a new front splitter with carbon fibre end caps, specific tuning for the adaptive chassis system, and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
Under the bonnet, the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 has been bumped to generate 563kW and a colossal 969Nm at peak. The changes instituted over the Z06’s LT4 unit are significant enough, Chevrolet says, to warrant the different engine name. Though, apart from the larger (by 52 percent) displacement supercharger, these alterations remain mysterious.
Somewhat paradoxically, this most track-focused Corvette ZR1 is also the first in its lineage to offer an automatic transmission option. Of course, a conventional seven-speed manual is still available, but the automaker is confident that the added auto would open the ZR1 up to a wider audience, making it a little more easy to live with day to day.
Interestingly, GM has not opted to slot in the 10-speed automatic that’s used in their most potent Camaro ZL1, a transmission co-developed with Ford and is also featuring in the 2018 Mustang. Instead, the shifter used in the new ZR1 is an 8-speed unit.
There is a definite and more pronounced undertone of motorsport applied to the interior, but should be second nature to anyone familiar with any of the current-generation Corvette’s cabin. There’s carbon fibre (real, not real?) lavished on the dash and steering wheel, gold-coloured highlights, and a more prominent smattering of suede-like microfibre and Nappa leather to cap things off.
In spite the Corvette ZR1 being slated for a showroom debut during the spring months of 2018 in North America, Chevrolet is oddly attaching this car with the label of being model year 2019.