Chevrolet officially announced the 2009 Corvette ZR1 – an American supercar that brings the technology and engineering refinement of carbon-fiber, ceramics and electronics together in a distinctive design.
“Chevrolet’s goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three or four times as much – and does so with exceptional driveability,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.
“Preliminary testing shows the ZR1 builds on the highly respected Corvette Z06 in every performance category, from acceleration and braking, to cornering grip and top speed,” said Peper. “It all boils down to the power-to-weight ratio and the ZR1’s is exceptional – better than the Porsche 911 GT2, the Ferrari 599 and even the Lamborghini LP640. In fact, the ZR1 is expected to be the first production Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 mph.”
Supercharged LS9 Engine
The new LS9 6.2L small-block engine is the power plant the supports the ZR1’s performance capability. The enabler of the LS9’s performance and refinement is a large, positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger with a new, four-lobe rotor design. It is augmented with an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for maximum performance.
A sixth-generation supercharger developed by Eaton helps the LS9 make big power and torque at lower rpm and carries it in a wide arc to 6,600 rpm, as it pushes enough air to help the engine maintain power through the upper levels of the rpm band – the area where supercharged performance tends to diminish. Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components enable the engine’s confident high-rpm performance.
The LS9 engine is backed by a new, stronger six-speed manual transmission and a twin-disc clutch that provide exceptional clamping power, while maintaining an easy clutch effort. ZR1-specific gearing in the transmission provides a steep first-gear ratio that helps launch the car, and top speed is achieved in sixth gear – a change from the fifth-gear top-speed run-outs in the manual-transmission Corvette and Corvette Z06.
Ride and Handling
The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent SLA front and rear suspensions, with aluminum upper and lower control arms. Where the ZR1 differs is the suspension tuning, which was optimized for the car’s steamroller-wide front and rear tires.
Magnetic Selective Ride Control is standard and tuned specifically for the ZR1. The system’s ability to deliver a compliant ride with nearly instantaneous damping adjustments enabled engineers to develop a surprisingly supple ride quality in a supercar that still delivers cornering grip of more than 1g.
The ZR1 is instantly recognizable, with perhaps the most identifiable feature a raised, all-carbon-fiber hood that incorporates a clear, polycarbonate window. The window provides a view of the top of the engine’s intercooler, with the legend “LS9 SUPERCHARGED” embossed on the left and right sides, and an engine cover with the Corvette crossed flags logo debossed at the front.
The underside of the hood has an exposed carbon-fiber-weave. Exposed carbon-fiber is used on the roof, roof bow, rocker molding and front splitter. These exterior components are protected by a specially developed glossy, UV-resistant clear coat that resists yellowing and wear.
Widened, carbon-fiber front fenders with specific, dual lower vents, and a full-width, body-color rear spoiler incorporating the center high-mounted stop lamp, are also unique to the ZR1. All of the exterior features of the car were developed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.
The ZR1’s interior builds on the brand’s dual-cockpit heritage, with high-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality that support the premium-quality experience promised by the car’s performance. The “base” ZR1 (RPO 1LZ) comes with accoutrements based on the Z06, including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The uplevel interior package includes unique, power-adjustable and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); custom, leather-wrapped interior available in four colors; navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and more.