I recently drove the most insane Chevy Corvette in history, which is the 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1. You realize this is the most insane Corvette in history the moment you first look at it, because it has a wing the size of a baby giraffe. It gets more insane from there.
But let me back up. I borrowed the 2019 ZR1 from DHRStreetSpeed, a YouTuber and friend in Maryland who has quite a collection of vehicles, including a Dodge Demon, a Viper ACR, a Camaro ZL1, a Shelby GT500, a Jeep Trackhawk and the ZR1. He picked up the ZR1 just a couple of weeks ago, becoming one of the first people in North America to take delivery. Naturally, this meant I had to come check it out.
So I checked it out, and here’s what I learned: the ZR1 is insane. It’s insane from back to front, from that massive rear wing to the little end caps on the front splitter that cover up part of the federally-mandated orange side reflectors, to the giant hood bulge that actually blocks visibility ever so slightly. There’s also the hood, which has the center removed from it because the engine is so large it sticks up through the middle.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. The ZR1’s engine is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 755 horsepower, making it more powerful than a Lamborghini Aventador. It has 715 lb-ft of torque, which is more than double what’s in the Lexus LFA. It has the same top speed — 211 miles per hour — as the new Ferrari 812 Superfast, which costs something like $350,000. As you can probably imagine, the ZR1 does not cost $350,000. It starts at $120,000, and the one I drove was about $144,000 with options. The wing is one of the options. But who would skip it?
Well, maybe a lot of people, because it’s massive — there are bus benches that aren’t this big. But, interestingly, it’s so large and high up that it doesn’t block your visibility when you’re sitting inside the car. It does, however, block your ability to load cargo in the back. Even though the Vette has a relatively large cargo area, accessing it is a challenge that requires lifting your cargo over the wing — which is truly about five feet off the ground — or over the rear fenders, above the tires. It’s not the most practical thing.
But who cares about practicality when the car is this much fun? The ZR1 is raucously, amazingly fast; power comes on immediately and insanely from the moment you so much as tap the throttle. A quarter throttle probably sends you from zero to 60 faster than most cars on the road; half throttle kicks you back in your seat; a full-throttle punch of the pedal feels like the most ridiculous roller coaster you’ve ever been on as it jams you back in your seat and rockets the car from zero to 60 in around three seconds. The 0-to-60 time isn’t really the amazing thing, though — it’s the fact that the ZR1 just keeps going, apparently endlessly, all the way up to its top speed. It probably slows down at some point, but I got a bit higher than 60, and it still felt like a roller coaster. A roller coaster with a massive wing.
One other thing I want to bring up in regards to acceleration is the sound. The ZR1 has one of the most menacing, monstrous sounds of any car I’ve ever driven; it’s absolutely mean, even when you just briefly stab the throttle. I think this is the first car I’ve ever driven where I can’t imagine why anyone, anywhere, would ever want to get an aftermarket exhaust. It’s hard to imagine improving on the stock sound, both in terms of noise level and quality.
The ZR1 is also a lot of fun on the curves, though some flaws become clear immediately: The ZR1’s turn-in steering precision isn’t quite on the level of, say, the Lamborghini Huracan or Ferrari 488. Also, downshifts heading into turns just aren’t as fast as the dual-clutch transmissions in all the latest supercars. The ZR1 corners tremendously well and it’s totally flat going around curves, but I still feel like there’s a little imprecision that I wouldn’t tolerate from a European exotic. Then again, that’s forgivable: A well-equipped 488 is probably double the price of a ZR1, and it’s almost certainly slower in virtually every measurable respect.
And that’s really the thing about the ZR1. I still don’t really consider a Corvette a "supercar," but that distinction is meaningless these days anyway. This thing is about as super as you’re going to get — with $140,000, or even with $340,000. And it doesn’t matter if you’re the most die-hard, Corvette-hating, European sports car-loving person in the world. Drive this thing, and you’ll be smiling. It’s impossible not to. Find a Chevrolet Corvette for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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