Car News

Return of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Kicking things off during this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show press days, Chevrolet debuted its 2019 Corvette ZR1 coupe, the much-anticipated king of the C7 Corvette lineup. And in a bit of a surprise move, Chevrolet revealed that the new ZR1 will also be available as a convertible. Not counting the single one-off ZR1 convertible built in 1970, this marks the first time that the ZR1 has been available as a drop-top.

“The new Corvette ZR1 convertible is a supercar in all respects,” said Chevrolet executive vice president of global product development Mark Reuss during the launch. “Few others can challenge the ZR1 convertible’s power and speed while offering the exhilaration of top-down motoring.”

Power for the 2019 ZR1 comes from a 6.2L supercharged cast-aluminum V8 with dual fuel-injection, which employs primary direct injection and supplementary port injection. Dubbed the LT5, the engine also has a larger supercharger than the Corvette Z06’s LT4 engine. The big 2.65L supercharger generates more boost while running at a slightly slower speed, which helps maintain a lower air intake temperature for optimal performance.

Output is rated at an SAE-certified 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque, and the engine can be mated to either a seven-speed manual transmission or a paddle shifter-equipped eight-speed automatic – a first for the ZR1. Preliminary testing has shown a 0–60 mph time of under three seconds and a quarter-mile time in the high 10-second range when equipped with the automatic. Top speed is 212 mph (341 km/h).

Visually, the ZR1 differs from the Z06 Corvette with a unique, aerodynamically optimized front fascia, different hood and front fenders, the addition of a standard rear wing and spoiler, and different wheel designs. Other changes from the Z06 include bigger ceramic brakes and wider front wheels. Standard tires are Michelin Pilot Super Sports.

The ZR1 convertible differs very little from the ZR1 coupe. Thanks to the strength of the Corvette’s aluminum chassis, the only structural changes required in the convertible are the accommodations for the folding top, and repositioned seat belt mounts. The difference in curb weight is less than 27 kg (60 pounds) and the suspension tuning is identical.

Three different driving modes (Tour, Sport and Track) adjust the suspension, throttle mapping, steering weight, exhaust tuning, gauge layout and, in automatic-equipped vehicles, the transmission mapping.

A new US$2,995 ZTK Performance Package adds an adjustable high wing, front splitter with carbon-fibre end caps, Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires, and track-optimized chassis and Magnetic Ride tuning. The wing lowers top speed by 19 km/h (12 mph) but adds up to 950 pounds of downforce at the rear wheels for improved grip in the corners.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 coupe and convertible will go on sale in the spring of 2018, with suggested US pricing of $119,995 for the coupe and $123,995 for the convertible.

Canadian pricing has not yet been announced, but specs and options are expected to be identical on both sides of the border.