On November 12, 2017, Chevrolet officially unveiled the all-new 2019 Corvette ZR1, a variant of Chevrolet’s beloved sports car that pushes Corvette’s performance to unprecedented levels of power, track performance and technology.
Since 1970, only four Corvettes have ever carried the ZR1 designation. The first was the third-generation C3 Corvette, which offered a ZR1 package that included a stronger engine, a high-performance suspension package, a revised transmission and upgraded brakes. A second ZR1 was introduced in 1990 and enjoyed a five year production run before being discontinued due to declining sales numbers. The third was introduced in 2009 as a 638 horsepower beast that was, for its time, the strongest production Corvette ever built.
And now, we have the 2019 ZR1 Corvette.
While there is still much information to be revealed by Chevrolet about their flagship Corvette, here is what we know so far – and from what we’ve learned, this car once again earns its reputation as “The King of the Hill!” (a distinction first bestowed upon the 1990 Corvette ZR1).
Under the Hood
The LT5 Engine
The Corvette ZR1 features an LT5 6.2L V-8 supercharged engine which dramatically advances the supercharging technologies first introduced in the 2009 sixth-generation Corvette ZR1 and continued with the 2015 seventh-generation Z06 Corvette. The engine, which is officially rated with an SAE-certified 755 horsepower (563 kW) and 715 lb-ft of torque (969Nm), establishes an entirely new benchmark in Chevrolet performance.
The LT5’s peak horsepower will be achieved at 6,300rpm, which is appx. 100rpm lower than the 650-horsepower Corvette Z06. Similarly, the ZR1’s peak torque will be achieved at approximately 4,400 rpm, which is 800 rpm higher than the Z06’s 650 lb/ft of torque.
The LT5 engine features a sixteen-valve configuration consistent with the same tried-and true pushrod overhead valve setup that Chevy small blocks have used for decades.
“I’ve never driven a Corvette like this before, and nobody else has either, because there’s never been one like this before. Its unprecedented performance puts all other global supercars on notice that the ZR1 is back.” Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
Chevrolet’s LT5 6.2L V-8 engine advances Corvette’s supercharging legacy by delivering the highest output ever for a GM production vehicle. The engine features a new, more-efficient intercooled supercharger system which produces 52 percent more displacement than the supercharger previously introduced on the Z06’s LT4 engine.
Additionally, the car features GM’s first-ever dual-fuel-injection system, which utilizes primary direct injection and supplemental port injection. This balanced combination of fuel injection further facilitates the LT5’s ability to achieve record power output. On top of that, the LT5, despite its massive power output, also manages to produce a respectable fuel economy (given the size and intent of the powerplant) – 15 city/22 highway when equipped with a 7-speed manual transmission or 13 city/23 highway when equipped with an 8-speed automatic.
7-Speed Manual or 8-Speed Automatic?
Mated to the LT5 engine is either a seven-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic transmission. The introduction of an automatic transmission on the ZR1 is a first for the seventh-generation iteration of the Corvette supercar. While many automotive purists might argue that the manual transmission provides the driver with greater connectivity to the car, early evaluations of the ZR1 Corvette equipped with an automatic transmission have proven to be quite well received.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission will feature a set of paddle shifters. These shifters will be mounted to the steering wheel (rather than the more conventional design of installing them on the steering column, as found on many other sports cars). However, as the new ZR1 utilizes a variable-ratio steering setup, this should pose less of an issue to consumers who purchase the automatic transmission option.
An all-new front fascia was developed to channel air for engine and drivetrain cooling, with four new radiators integrated into the nose of the car. The addition of these radiators brings the heat-exchanger total to 13.
A special carbon-fiber “halo” hood with a uniquely designed central opening was developed to clear the LT5 engine’s supercharger/intercooler assembly. Unlike the sixth-generation ZR1, which featured a transparent panel to view the supercharger assembly, the seventh-generation ZR1 Corvette’s supercharger housing is actually a separate, though carefully integrated, assembly that is designed to blend perfectly with the hood.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 incorporates the highest percentage of carbon fiber components of any Chevy vehicle to date. The use of carbon fiber throughout both the exterior (as well as in elements of the interior) keep the car’s curb weight at just 3,560 pounds – which is just 35 lbs heavier than the current Z06.
The ZR1 further enhances the Corvette’s track capabilities with the introduction of two wind tunnel-honed aerodynamic packages.
The Low Wing and High Wing Aerodynamic Packages
The first package features a standard “Low Wing”, which enables the car to deliver the highest top speed while also generating up to 70 percent more downforce than the Z06’s base aero package. Equipped with this package, the ZR1 has already achieved a top speed of 210 miles per hour.
The second package features a two-way-adjustable “High Wing” which is specifically intended to maximize downforce on the racetrack to decrease lap times. The high wing generates about 950 pounds of downforce, which is approximately 60 percent more downforce than the Z06 Corvette equipped with the available Z07 performance package.
Both of the ZR1’s wings are affixed directly to the Corvette’s chassis – much like the wing used to generate downforce on the Corvette Racing’s C7.R racecar – for added strength and stability.
The adjustable “High Wing” package is actually part of the new ZTK Performance Package, which also includes a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tires, and specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning for greater cornering grip.
All 2019 ZR1 Corvettes also feature a Chevrolet-first – a downforce-enhancing front underwing.
“As the highest-performing Corvette ever, the ZR1’s design supports its capability in every way. The new wings, for example, help generate more downforce without adding drag, enhancing road holding and top speed.” Kirk Bennion, Exterior Design Manager.
Sebring Orange Design Package
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 that was unveiled in Dubai was finished in the Sebring Orange Design Package. The car, whose exterior is finished in the Sebring Orange Tintcoat, also includes orange brake calipers, orange rocker and splitter accent stripes, orange seat belts, orange interior stitching and unique, bronze aluminum interior trim.
This new design package accentuates the Corvette ZR1 tradition of providing consumers with maximum performance while also showcasing refinement and luxury design elements. The driver -focused, well-appointed cockpit includes standard leather-trimmed seats, with optional sueded microfiber inserts. Heated and air-conditioned Napa leather-trimmed seats are also available, as well as a carbon fiber-rimmed steering wheel, competition sport seats, Performance Data Recorder, a Bose premium audio system and more.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 will be available to consumers next spring with a market focus to compete with some of the staunchest competitors in the world – including the new Ford GT, Ferrari and Lamborghini. While an official price hasn’t been set yet, many are speculating that car will be priced around $120,000. Even so, the ZR1 offers performance that is unrivaled by any other car at that price point, making this newest Corvette a comparable bargain even with six-figure price tag.