What you're looking at is the ultimate evolution of the Corvette, the fastest, the most outrageous example of this American icon that we've ever seen. At 755 horsepower, it's over 100 up on the already-insane, and its 212 miles-per-hour top speed is a new high water mark for road-going Chevrolets. But more important than that is what this new ZR1 can do around a racetrack, and after a few terrifying laps in the passenger seat around one of the ballsiest tracks in the US of A, I can confidently say that this new 'Vette will not disappoint.
You'll want to read our fullfor all the details of just how Chevrolet engineers managed to extract another 105 ponies out of the LT5 V8 found in the Z06, which already puts down an outrageous 650, but suffice to say it's more than just a bigger supercharger. More power means more fuel, more air and, crucially, more cooling.
Three separate radiators try to keep engine temps at bay, while a massive intercooler chills the air going in that new supercharger. The bigger 'charger and intercooler necessitate that shaker-style hood, engine cowling poking up through and sitting right there in plain sight as you look through the windshield. Get on the throttle and that cowling bucks and shakes, a dance I'm sure you'll be seeing at many a cars-and-coffee gathering in the coming year.
755 horsepower is accompanied by 715 pound-feet of torque, and while Chevrolet isn't quoting an official 0 - 60 time just yet, it'll likely shave a few digits from the Z06's already-impressive 2.95 seconds. Quarter-mile time is "in the high 10-second range" and the car is actually capable of going faster than its official top speed of 212. A limiter kicks in at 215 for fear of the tires ripping themselves to shreds.
That's only if you don't select the ZTK package, a $2,995 bundle that slaps a giant, adjustable wing on the back and also provides extra aerodynamic appendages at the front. The net result is 950 pounds of downforce at speed, the kind of extra grip that enables carrying 140 mph into the final, grueling, sweeper at Willow Springs, the historic track about two hours outside Los Angeles.
It's on the Big Willow configuration that I got my first taste of ZR1, sadly from the passenger seat for now, but beggars can't be choosers. It's an incredibly fast track, with corners that really test your mettle as much as that of your car, and the ZR1 swallowed it up with aplomb. The track's aging surface is bumpy to the extreme, but the ZR1's downforce helped keep the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires nicely composed -- at least, as well composed as you can expect on a car that ducts 755 horsepower through its rear wheels.
You can only learn so much from the wrong seat in a car like this, but even from the next county you'll be able to appreciate that Chevrolet has nailed the sound. This will be the loudest Corvette ever, but it isn't obnoxiously so. In fact, ZR1 will be even quieter on the highway than the Z06, but at full-song on the track it is deafening, the kind of angry ruckus you'd expect to go along with that wing.
The 2018 Corvette ZR1 starts at $119,995, with the convertible starting at $123,995. The ZTK package, which nets you the wing, a set of Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and some other niceties, adds $2,995 to that. Given a Z06 can be had for just over $80,000, the $40,000 premium might seem a bit dear, but as is usually the case with Corvettes that's still a bargain compared what you'd have to pay to get a piece of European exotica with this kind of performance.