Whereas some folks might think the ZR1 is just a Z06 on steroids, Tadge doesn’t see it that way.
“People will probably think of this as a Z06 with 105 more horsepower,” Juechter says in an interview with Motor1, “but they should think of it more as a Grand Sport with 300 more horsepower.”
But Tadge says the new King of the Hill is not just about numbers, like the 755 horses.
“Of course we want more power, our customers always want more power, but just more power is not a good car,” he says. “We pride ourselves on doing well-balanced cars that do a lot of things well.”
As he puts it: “We want to do better than we’ve done previously in every way.”
One way that the ZR1 LT5 engine – which shares some parts with the Z06 powerplant but has different heads, crankshaft, among other things, aimed specifically at making more power – is better than the Z06’s LT4 is across the power band, Tadge emphasized.
“You can feel it in every gear at every speed,” he says. “You don’t have to wind it out, it’s ready to go … It’s just shockingly quick, even from highway speed.”
One interesting fact he brought up is that the ZR1 doesn’t have cylinder deactivation like the rest of the Corvette lineup, saying that would have been too much weight on the valvetrain for its more aggressive cam profile.
While some purists will argue that a car like the ZR1 should definitely have a manual transmission, Tadge says the market demands the availability of an automatic, too.
“If you don’t offer the automatic as a choice, sometimes they can’t buy the car,” he says. “I talked to a lot of people who didn’t buy a C6 Z06, they bought a Grand Sport because they could get an automatic transmission.”
As proof, he points to the fact that 70-80 percent of C7 Z06s are automatics since some customers have family members who don’t know how or don’t want to drive a manual.
With the Z06 drawing complaints about overheating on the track, Chevy says it made sure the ZR1 doesn’t suffer from the same ailment, with the cooling system proving its effectiveness with rigorous testing by a pro driver who pushed the car until it used a whole tank of gas. Chevy also upped the ambient temperature during the testing to 100 degrees F, up from the previous 86 degrees F.
By the way, the ZR1 will have four more extra heat exchangers than the Z06, and the front fascia looks cool, literally, since it has so many radiators and intercoolers designed to keep the engine, er, cool.
Another “cool” feature about the ZR1 is the spring-loaded valve in the active exhaust system that “gradually opens up as more flow comes through, and it gives a more linear character,” Tadge says, adding that it produces a much smoother transition from quiet to loud (compared to the Z06). It’s a system so new that Chevy is trying to patent it.
But if you’re worried that the ZR1 won’t be friendly to use on regular streets, don’t be.
“If we were trying to do a pure track machine, it would be much easier … But even at this level of performance, we still worry about making the car very usable, very accessible,” Tadge says. “We act like people are going to use it like a normal Corvette,” even though only about 5 percent of owners will take their cars to the track.
By the way, all that attention to detail pays off in the form of a top speed of a whopping 212 miles per hour, a figure that Chevy has verified at Papenberg test track in Germany, “with very, very long straightaways and high-banked turns,” Tadge says.
You have to pay a price for the optional High Wing that looks so cool in photos, as it cuts the top speed by about 10 mph – but 202 mph still isn’t bad, huh?
And if you think you can push the ZR1 even more, be aware that it is limited electronically to “just” 215 mph because of the speed rating of the tires.
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