If the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is truly the last time we’ll see a front-engine behemoth example of the legendary Chevrolet sports car, then what a way to go out!
Road and Track is the latest to get in line praising the latest ZR1 supercar, anointing it as the 2019 Performance Car of the Year.
The ZR1 beat out tough competition like the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista, the 2019 McLaren Senna, and the 2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS – all of which cost way more than the $141,485 Chevrolet. For instance, the Porsche as tested was $328,880, the Ferrari $448,884, and the McLaren a whopping $964,966!
As R&T put it, “the breathtaking ability of players …. took us to the kind of rarefied air traditionally inhabited by pur sang racers.”
The Corvette also beat out four other worthy opponents – the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon ($140,730 as tested), the 2019 BMW M5 Competition ($130,495), the 2018 Audi RS5 ($91,000), and the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ($93,190).
The ZR1 also won the top speed category at 212 mph, edging out the Ferrari and the Porsche by one mile per hour, and made the highest torque at 715 lb-ft, way ahead of the runner-up Mercedes-AMG at 627 lb-ft and had the best roadholding capabilities at 1.18 g ahead of the Porsche’s 1.17 g.
But enough of the numbers. The Corvette took the impressive honor for those stats – plus a lot of other intangible reasons.
“The Corvette ZR1 won because it brought out the wide-eyed enthusiast in all of us—IndyCar pros, club racers, and jaded journalists alike,” Road and Track says. “Everyone wanted more time in the ZR1. Every aspect of the ZR1, from the rib-cage-vibrating engine note to the adjustable traction control, strikes a chord.”
Another plus – the ZR1 was a hit with the supercar enthusiast on a budget. As R&T says, “The Chevy also happens to exhibit many of the McLaren’s qualities at one-seventh the price. It, too, is awkwardly but compellingly styled by the demands of the air and the engine. Like the Senna, it combines an appetite for lap time with a remarkable ability to handle imperfect roads.”
One contributor for the magazine – J.R. Hildebrand, who happens to be the 2011 Indy 500 rookie of the year – put it this way: “If the Pista, GT2 RS, and McLaren all cost the same, the ZR1 likely isn’t on par with them, because it’s not as comprehensively designed. But it would still be the car I’d feel most guilt-free about driving the hell out of whenever I wanted, over and over again.”
Road and Track chose the ZR1, the magazine said, “because it exhibits every traditional Corvette virtue while rectifying many of the weak points that plagued its predecessors.”
For example, they noted: “It’s loud enough at idle to produce a cease-and-desist letter from the homeowners’ association, but you can converse quietly with your passenger on the freeway. Drag racers will like the extra radiators; road racers will like the aero package. It makes big numbers, the way Corvettes always have, but it also conveys the intangible qualities of steering feel and high-speed balance typically associated with smaller, more restrained sports cars. Don’t think of it as a faster Z06; compared with that car, which failed to impress the 2016 PCOTY jury, the ZR1 is a finished piece in all respects.”
Road and Track believes a closer comparison would be to PCOTY 2017’s third-place Grand Sport, “which thrilled us with its feedback but occasionally felt underpowered in the fiercest company,” the magazine says, noting that the ZR1 “redresses that grievance and then some.”
Anyone who has spent time at Bowling Green or any of the other places where Corvette enthusiasts gather knows how much the Corvette team enjoys being with the folks who love the cars they produce.
Road and Track took note of that connection, writing: “This imperial Corvette is a product of a team that treats the customer with both affection and respect. Your dream ZR1 may be a stick shift with the cheapo interior and the ZTK aero package. Others surely dream of an automatic, small-wing car with stitched leather on every surface. The beauty of the ZR1 is that both choices are valid, both choices are available, and with a multitude of options in between. We are too often told nowadays that such-and-such a degradation is inevitable, that as enthusiasts we must be prepared to put up with everything from a mandatory P-R-N-D-L pattern to a seven-inch ride height because there is no longer any other sensible option. The Corvette ZR1 is a 755-hp refutation of that assertion, a hammer thrown into Big Brother’s twin-clutch telescreen, a warp-speed expression of stubborn American independence.”
Check out the full feature article at roadandtrack.com for additional photos, graphics and the excellent review of all the contenders for the 2019 Performance Car of the Year.
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