The speculation, rumors and half-truths can now be set aside — this is the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, officially revealed for all the world to see. Powered by a supercharged LS9 6.2L small-block engine, the ZR1 hasn't even received an official horsepower number from the engineers toiling away at the General. All Harlan Charles, project manager for the Corvette team was able to tell us last week was the new high-powered 'Vette engine is "capable of producing at least 100 horsepower per liter. That's at least 620 horsepower, and approximately 595 lb.-ft. of torque." Chevrolet wasn't even able to give us a time on the 0-60. Charles was only willing to say "it's in the low three seconds." The small-block engine under the hood is only able to hit those massive numbers due to the addition of the positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger with a new, four-lobe rotor design plus an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for increased performance. That's the "go" end, but the "whoa" end is just as impressive. The ZR1 gets some simply huge carbon-ceramic, drilled disc brake rotors. They're so big and are required to be so powerful they're using the same 15-inch-diameter discs found on the front of a Ferrari 599. Except on the ZR1, they go on the 20" tires in the rear. In the front, they'll be getting even larger 15.5-inch-diameter rotors. Yup, they're simply breathtaking to see up-close.
* All-new LS9 supercharged 6.2L V-8 targeted at producing at least 100 horsepower per liter, or 620 horsepower (462 kW), and approximately 595 lb.-ft. of torque (823 Nm)
* Six-speed, close-ratio, race-hardened manual transmission
* New, high-capacity dual-disc clutch
* Higher-capacity and specific-diameter axle half-shafts; enhanced torque tube
* Specific suspension tuning provides more than 1g cornering grip
* Twenty-spoke 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels
* Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires - P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear - developed specifically for the ZR1
* Standard carbon-ceramic, drilled disc brake rotors - 15.5-inch-diameter (394-mm) in the front and 15-inch-diameter (380-mm) in the rear
* Larger brake calipers with substantially increased pad area
* Standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control with track-level suspension
* Wider, carbon-fiber front fenders with ZR1-specific dual vents
* Carbon-fiber hood with a raised, polycarbonate window - offering a view of the intercooler below it
* Carbon-fiber roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter and rocker moldings with clear-coated, exposed carbon-fiber weave
* ZR1-specific full-width rear spoiler with raised outboard sections
* Specific gauge cluster with boost gauge (also displayed on the head-up display) and 220-mph (370 km/h) speedometer readout
* Only two options: chrome wheels and a "luxury" package
* Curb weight of approximately 3,350 pounds (1,519 kg)
Ride and handling
The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent SLA front and rear suspensions, with aluminum upper and lower control arms. Where the ZR1 differs is the suspension tuning, which was optimized for the car's steamroller-wide front and rear tires.
Magnetic Selective Ride Control is standard and tuned specifically for the ZR1. The system's ability to deliver a compliant ride with nearly instantaneous damping adjustments enabled engineers to develop a surprisingly supple ride quality in a supercar that still delivers cornering grip of more than 1g.
From a high-performance perspective, Magnetic Selective Ride Control helps the rear axle remain planted during launch for smooth, hop-free acceleration. It also helps suppress axle movement when cornering on broken or uneven pavement.
The ZR1 is instantly recognizable, with perhaps the most identifiable feature a raised, all-carbon-fiber hood that incorporates a clear, polycarbonate window. The window provides a view of the top of the engine's intercooler, with the legend "LS9 SUPERCHARGED" embossed on the left and right sides, and an engine cover with the Corvette crossed flags logo debossed at the front.
The underside of the hood has an exposed carbon-fiber-weave. Exposed carbon-fiber is used on the roof, roof bow, rocker molding and front splitter. These exterior components are protected by a specially developed glossy, UV-resistant clear coat that resists yellowing and wear.
Widened, carbon-fiber front fenders with specific, dual lower vents, and a full-width, body-color rear spoiler incorporating the center high-mounted stop lamp, are also unique to the ZR1. All of the exterior features of the car were developed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.
The ZR1's interior builds on the brand's dual-cockpit heritage, with high-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality that support the premium-quality experience promised by the car's performance. The ZR1's cabin differs from the Corvette and Corvette Z06 with the following:
* ZR1-logo sill plates
* ZR1-logo headrest embroidery
* Specific gauge cluster with "ZR1" logo on the tachometer and a 220-mph (370 km/h) readout on the speedometer
* Boost gauge added to the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display
The "base" ZR1 (RPO 1LZ) comes with accoutrements based on the Z06, including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The uplevel interior package includes unique, power-adjustable and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); custom, leather-wrapped interior available in four colors; navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and more.