General Motors took its latest 2019 Corvette to Dubai for its public debut, choosing the perceived capital of the world’s rich and powerful for the unveiling of the new King of the Hill Corvette, the ZR1.
The ZR1 was introduced on the C3 in 1970 as the ZR-1 option package, which grouped the high-revving 370-hp LT-1 engine with special racing equipment. It was offered through 1972 before returning to the line-up on the C4 in 1990 as its own model, a coupe distinguished from other ’Vettes with a wider rear end to accommodate 11-inch-wide rubber, and a convex rear fascia with four square shaped taillights and the high-mounted stop light moved to the top of the rear window. In development, the ZR-1 was referred to as the “King of the Hill,” and the name stuck.
The arrival of the Z06 for the C5 spelled the end of the ZR-1, but it returned on the C6 with a 638-hp supercharged 6.2-litre V-8, reclaiming the title as the most powerful Corvette, until the current generation’s Z06 was introduced in 2014.
But now, the King is back, and it’s packing 755 hp from an LT5 supercharged engine.
“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 of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, at the car’s introduction. “Its unprecedented performance puts all other global supercars on notice that the ZR1 is back.”
The LT5 6.2-litre supercharged V-8 now delivers 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque, the highest output ever for a Chevrolet (thanks to a new intercooler system for the supercharger, and GM’s first dual-fuel-injection system with direct injection and supplemental port injection). It also includes the first application of an automatic in a ZR1, an 8-speed paddle shifter, in addition to a 7-speed manual.
It also has a new look, with an all new front fascia with more openings to provide air to four new radiators (bringing the total to 13) and the first Chevrolet front underwing, a carbonfibre hood with an open centre to provide clearance for the supercharger/intercooler, and a choice of aero packages (including one with a 2-way adjustable high wing that reportedly provides 950 pounds of downforce).
“As the highest-performing Corvette ever, the ZR1’s design supports its capability in every way,” said Kirk Bennion, Exterior Design manager. “The new wings, for example, help generate more downforce without adding drag, enhancing road holding and top speed.”
Even the standard “low” wing helps generate 70% more downforce than the Z06’s base aero package, while the high wing creates 60% more downforce than the Z06’s Z07 performance package. The latter is part of a new ZTK Performance Package that also adds a front splitter, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning. Both the wings are tied to the chassis (as in the Corvette race cars) for strength and stability.
And to finish off the exclusive new look, the ZR1 debuts a Sebring Orange Tintcoat paint, which is part of a Sebring Orange Design Package that also includes orange brake calipers, and orange rocker and splitter accent stripes. The interior features standard leather competition sport seats with suede microfibre inserts, orange seatbelts and orange stitching, carbonfibre rimmed steering wheel, performance data recorder, Bose premium audio system, and bronze aluminum trim.
The ZR1 will available in spring 2018.