2009 Chevy Corvette ZR1: Olympic Runaway
We came to Atlanta too chronicle two significant events. The first was the introduction of the all new Kia Sorento utility vehicle. And the second was to get a look at Kia’s first American assembly plant in West Sprinters! On your mark…Get set…Go! And just like that, Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt runs away from the 100 meter competition as if his life depended on it. That’s exactly how I felt as my ZR1 blasted from the start line reaching 65 mph in first gear before kicking it into second and jumping on the straightaway at General Motor’s Milford Proving Grounds.
Sprinters! On your mark…Get set…Go! And just like that, Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt runs away from the 100 meter competition as if his life depended on it. That’s exactly how I felt as my ZR1 blasted from the start line reaching 65 mph in first gear before kicking it into second and jumping on the straightaway at General Motor’s Milford Proving Grounds. The 2.9-mile, 17-turn, four-year old technical track was developed as a microcosm to the legendary Nürburgring in Germany to evaluate not only the speed of GM’s vehicles but their abilities to withstand varying degrees of road performance like blind cornering, ground clearance, uphill acceleration and more. To say the least, this is Chevy’s ultimate production Corvette ever! And like Bolt, behind the wheel of the American supercar anyone will feel like the “World’s Fastest Man.”
You may have been happy when Chevy first launched the Corvette ZR-1 in 1990. Then, it was “King of the Hill.” But the Corvette matured. And just when you thought you had it all with the Z06, Chevy introduces the ZR1, with 638-horspower, 604 pound-feet of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 7 seconds, a 205 mph top speed, and quarter mile time of 11.3 seconds. Supercar performance indeed from the ZR1, featuring a hand-built LS9 6.2-liter V8. And the super ‘Vette gets 24 hwy mpg!
In this high-tech masterpiece, Chevy found many ways to keep the vehicle’s weight down by utilizing the same aluminum structure from the Z06 and going with a carbon-fiber roof, hood and front fenders which house ZR1 specific dual air intakes. The Twin Vortex Series Eaton supercharger is also new.
It consists of two rotors with a four-lobe design which replaces the three lobe rotor, generating more pressure than previous generations. Air is compressed at 15,000 rpm. It then flows through the intercooler, which decreases intake temperature by up to 160 degrees before the compressed mixture enters the combustion chamber. The power plant was so magnificent for Chevy that they incorporated a raised polycarbonate “Peeping Tom” window on the hood of the ‘Vette for owner bragging rights. But what you actually see is the intercooler sitting atop the supercharger. Power is managed through a close ratio six-speed rear mounted manual transmission. “Chevrolet’s goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that triumphs exotics that cost two, three or four times as much – and does so with exceptional drivability,” stated Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.
External differences with the ZR1 from other ‘Vettes should be easily spotted by enthusiasts including ZR1 Blue badging, Blue-Devil painted Brembo calipers, a wider track from the 19” front and 20” rear wheel package, front splitter, and of course the hood window. Michelin developed the Pilot Sport 2 ZR rated rubber specifically for the ZR1. The front features P285/30ZR19 tires while the rear stretches to P335/25ZR20 tires. You definitely will appreciate their grip as I did when blowing around hairpin turns at excessive speeds. Additionally, the ZR1 directly benefits from Brembo’s latest research and technology in performance braking.
The carbon-ceramic, cross-drilled 15.5-inch front rotors and 15-inch rear rotors work in tandem with monobloc calipers (six-piston front, four-piston rear) to dramatically reduce the vehicle’s speed.
The brake system also includes a unique “pads noise insulator” which Brembo says should quell carbon-ceramic brake squeal. We’ll see. Step inside and the feel of the cockpit is not that much different than other Corvettes.
The main upgrade is the leather wrapped interior developed by Draexlmaier, who also supplies interior leather for Maybach and Cadillac. With four colors available, Linen, Sienna, Titanium, and Ebony, the leather interior is included with the 3ZR top option package for the ZR1. Chevy says this will put the ZR1 more on par with its luxury oriented competition. The seats are race inspired of course with embroidered ZR1 emblems; a ZR1 gauge cluster with a boost gauge and 220-mph speedometer has been added as well as Bluetooth technology.
Back on the track, the 3,350 pound ZR1 performs magnificently. Its shocks constantly monitor the road surface, the suspension has been tuned to provide more corner grip, Magnetic Selective Ride Control with track level suspension keeps the vehicle planted on takes offs and the four pipes are blowing noise like their Le Mans counterparts. Only 338 Chevrolet dealers out of about 4,000 total dealers will receive allocations to order ZR1s. For the “just under” 2,000 fortunate ZR1 customers Chevy also includes classes at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving with the ZR1’s $103,300 price tag (includes destination). They’re going to need it because you can’t go up against an Olympian without prior training.
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