So how was this astute blend of speed and savoir faire achieved? By showering the C6 Corvette's aluminum-frame architecture with fresh technology and by sweating blood over the ZR1's behavioral traits.
New carbon-composite brakes and body panels trimmed 22 pounds, partially compensating for the 182 pounds added in pursuit of more power and superior ride and handling. Substituting 0.4-inch wider Michelin tires for the Z06's Goodyears and mounting them to wheels that are an inch larger in diameter notched up the ZR1's grip. Upgrading both the magnetically adjustable dampers and the antiroll-bar diameters provided additional wheel and body control to compensate for the softer spring rates selected to calm ride motions. The driveline has been fortified with a new dual-plate clutch, closer gear ratios, and a sixth gear that syncs the engine's redline to the car's top speed for the first time.
So what got screwed up? The only notable warts we found were the carryover bucket seats that provide virtually no thigh support. The brain trust has been notified.
With a base price of $105,000, which includes a $1700 fuel-guzzling tax and a trip to driving school, the ZR1 is the new screaming deal. Only 1800 will be built this year for global consumption. If you hesitated to place a deposit, commence your self-flagellation now.
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Base Price: $105,000
Engine: Supercharged and intercooled OHV 16-Valve V-8
Displacement: 6.2 liters (376 cu in)
Horsepower: 638 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 604 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Suspension, Front: Control arms, semielliptic spring
Suspension, Rear: Control arms, semielliptic spring
Brakes: Vented discs, ABS
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2
Tire Size F, R: 285/30yr-19, 335/25yr-20
L X W X H: 176.2 X 75.9 X 49.0 in
Wheelbase: 105.7 in
Track F/R: 63.5/62.5 in
Weight: 3324 lb (per manufacturer)