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Corvette ZR-1

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Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
9/10

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Road Test

Corvette ZR-1 Coupe

Driven September 2009

Additional Info

Depressed? You need a ZR-1. Guaranteed to banish the blues, lift your mood and plaster a whacking great smile on your face. Life-affirming like you wouldn't believe. You could just burn around for an hour a day and your life would be complete, forget the meds.

Find an open road, use all that throttle and it's in a different league to everything bar a 599. Here in the UK, you've got to watch your speed - 100mph is far too easy. The supercharger whine is the dominant noise below 3,000rpm, but surge past that point and a valve opens in the exhaust to let the V8 dominate - and sets your giggles loose. It's a power trip, a V8 endorphin pill.

For those that need facts to validate the feelings, no problem: 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds with 100mph flashing past in 7.0 dead. Top whack is 205mph. Enough.

All this is courtesy of the 6.2-litre V8 engine that's the same size as in the C6 'Vette, but this time with a supercharger hoiking the power up to 638bhp and the torque to 604lb ft (from 430bhp and 424lb ft). The weight has been kept down a reasonable 1,500kg, so those are some mightily frightening figures. A standing start will see you fry the rears in first, second and even a little bit of third. And that's on a dry road, with rear tyres that are twice as wide as a Golf's.

In an odd way, this is almost a wolf in sheep's clothing simply because the ZR-1 looks so similar to the basic C6, bar that perspex panel in the bonnet. Don't confuse that with a lack of tech on the ZR-1 though. The chassis has been totally re-engineered, so instead of a steel chassis and plastic panels, you get an aluminium and magnesium frame with carbon clothes. That keeps the weight down and where a lot of your £106,605 goes.

It certainly didn't go into the cabin, as this is still clichéd-Americana. Lots of leather, yes, but little in the way of actual sophistication. And there's not a huge amount of headroom, either.

But don't be Euro-snobbish about the transverse leaf spring suspension - it works brilliantly with the Magnetic Selective Ride Control on UK roads. It's genuinely surprising how well it rides and how well it maintains grip - even in Sport there's a compliance and maturity to the ride that'll widen your eyes. Hard cornering is flat and predictable and even though its a wide car and only available in left-hand drive, it's not intimidating to drive quickly because there's enough feel through the seat and steering wheel. It's brilliant. Buy this, chuck the Prozac away.

Piers Ward

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