If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go for a ride in an F-22 Raptor but are afraid of heights, you may want to check out the new 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. As the most expensive and powerful production car GM has ever produced, the ZR1 is the first production vehicle from GM that can be considered a member of the exotic club.
Of course to get the whole fighter jet experience, a professional race track is required. Fully realizing the need for a course with no speed restrictions, GM reserved a day at Bondurant Racing School in Phoenix, Arizona to provide West Coast automotive journalists with an opportunity to take a high g-force ride around the challenging Bondurant Road Course. GM’s Corvette Engineer Jim Mero was to be the designated ZR1 pilot. It was behind the wheel of a new ZR1 earlier this year that Jim broke the record for best lap time at the infamous Nurburgring race track in Germany. If anyone could properly demonstrate the ZR1’s abilities, it would be Jim.
When asked how the ZR1 compares to the already impressive Corvette Z06, Jim answered, “They’re not even in the same league —difference between night and day.” Obviously referring to the idea that the ZR1 would trounce the Z06 in a head-to-head competition, Jim further revealed that the ZR1 had two distinct personalities thanks to its two-mode active magnetic rheologic dampers. Therefore, unlike many exotic sports cars on the market, the ZR1 is as much at home on a roughly paved back road as it is on the race track.
On the outside the ZR1 is equipped with a number of performance enhancing features that enable it to outperform its Z06 sibling. A significantly larger front lip spoiler provides added down force to keep the front end planted at high speeds. Standard 19” front and 20” rear wheels fill widened port-filled fenders. A full-width rear spoiler finishes off the package and keeps the tail from getting too happy at extreme velocities.
You’ll notice the only picture of the interior was taken before the ZR1 hit the track and there is a reason for that. Trying to aim a hand-held camera as the ZR1 was pulling serious g-forces around the track was next to impossible. In fact, your only concerns as you are whipped around the track at ridiculous speeds are that your head stays attached to your neck and that your eyeballs don’t get sucked out of their sockets when the massive Brembo brakes are applied. Once you reach the one and only straight away on the track, you’ll be slammed back in your seat as the ZR1 rockets you through the finish line with one of the most ferocious exhaust and induction notes of any sports car on the market.
There are, of course, noticeable ZR1-exclusive upgrades to the interior, nonetheless. A boost gage has been added to the revised instrument cluster as well as the heads up display. ZR1 logos are also subtly placed throughout the cockpit.
The Corvette ZR1 is not just the best bang for the buck of the year, but the best bang period. Although its price now reaches six figures, the new Vette’s exclusivity along with its nearly impossible to match performance make it one of the few reminders this year that we Americans are still number one. Visit www.canyon-news.com or www.thesfnews.com for vehicle specs and photos. Please send any questions or comments concerning past or present articles or about cars in general to firstname.lastname@example.org
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