2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 first drive review: A stable genius Page 2

The LT5 does it all with a sound and fury signifying America. It rumbles with a subdued baritone when driven conservatively, but pin the throttle and the LT5 unleashes a thunderous wail straight out of “The Exorcist.” The power of Christ compels it.

Our test car featured the 7-speed manual transmission. Chevrolet has made concessions to the market to sell more cars by offering an 8-speed automatic and a convertible body style, but a coupe with the manual is the purest ZR1, the best on the track, and will probably hold the most resale value. The 7-speed is a joy due to its short, positive throws, firm but not heavy clutch pedal, and natural clutch engagement. Plus, it offers rev-matching that can be turned on or off via steering wheel paddles. Skilled drivers can still heel-and-toe, and the rest of us can let the car do it.

Street performer

On the street, the ZR1 carries around the equipment that makes the car go like it’s possessed, and that means it attracts attention everywhere. The ZTK package’s high rear wing screams race car. The front fascia is an open maw.

“There’s hardly any actual fascia there. So, we crammed it full of as many heat exchangers as we can,” Corvette Lead Engineer Tadge Juechter told Motor Authority. The ZR1 has four extra heat exchangers up front, which brings the total to 13.

A taller intercooler on top of the supercharger pushes the hood scoop 3 inches higher than the one on the Z06. It reminds onlookers this car is ferociously fast, and does the same for the driver, who gets a semi-obstructed view down the center of the car.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Those tires that perform so well on the track aren’t great for the street. Don’t drive the Michelin Sport Cup 2s in the rain if you want to stay on the road. They also thrum on the highway and like to follow road seams.

But the street experience is mostly uneventful. In Touring mode, the steering lightens up, the magnetic dampers absorb bumps about as well as any other Corvette, and the LT5’s engine note fades mostly into the background.

Inside, the ZR1 adds full leather trim, a carbon fiber steering wheel, sport seats, a performance data recorder, and a Bose sound system. It’s an improvement over the standard Corvette cabin, which isn’t bad to begin with, but Chevrolet doesn’t step the game up to six-figure levels.

That’s OK, though, because the rest of the car exceeds expectations for its price, even for about $130,000 with the ZTK package. The ZR1 puts up track times that half-million-dollar exotics can’t match. It may use brute force to create its power, but the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is a supercar at half the price, a speed demon, and a stable genius.

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