After numerous spy shots, months of rampant speculation, as well as a poorly timed leak, Chevrolet has officially unveiled the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 choosing to formally unveil the car at the Dubai Motor Show versus the highly anticipated NAIAS unveiling that was rumored for so long.
Looking beyond the unusual location for its debut (Chevrolet said it was a nod to the growing Middle East market, the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 brings newfound muscle, technology, and refinement to the supercar segment. While this iteration of the ZR1 does share alot of its underlying construction with the Z06, Chevrolet engineers added a larger rear wing, more power, and pledged that this iteration of the ZR1 is truly a car that was designed for everyone. This is good considering that the last generation ZR1 packed alot of horsepower, but in a decidedly crude package that caused it to come up just shy of slaying its European competition.
Here, the exterior styling this time around is much sleeker, while still retaining its purposeful aggression and sinister undertones. The carbon fiber strip running down the middle of the hood for example is supposed to be cover of the engine, and the challenge of crafting each weave as well as Chevrolet’s intention of not making the engine cover any taller shows the high level of care that Chevy went in keeping its promises for ease of use especially in terms of visibility. The front clip is all new, while the heavily reworked front fascia comes equipped with four new radiators which add up to 13 different heat exchangers in total. These help improve engine cooling, but thankfully do not detract much from the futuristic styling that defined the C7 Corvette from day one.
Better handling on the track helped define the lengths Chevrolet went to get the rear end into the track ready spirit. Unlike the older ZR1, buyers will be able to choose from two different rear wing options. The regular wing is still on deck as the standard option, but it can be pitched for a massive unit that delivers 950 lbs of downforce for intense track day workouts. The beefy wing is part of the all new ZTK performance package, and is attached directly to the chassis. The wing also features five degrees of adjustability, but unlike many of its rivals, it is not electronically controlled, and requires owners to physically change the bolts. It’s not all bad news for the standard wing, since it still manages to generate 70 percent more downforce than the ZO6’s base aero pack.
Other ZTK goodies include a front splitter with carbon fiber end-caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires, and tweaks to both the chassis and the Magnetic Ride Control system for sharper cornering grip. The ZR1 also makes a bit of history, and is the first Corvette offering to get a front underwing to maximize downforce. On prior Corvettes (including the previous ZR1) GM engineers always used front splitters to help push the nose down. However, the balancing loads demanded by the rear wing forced engineers to think outside the box to help avoid having a front end that would scrape too easily on the ground.
The interior of the ZR1 is all business, but still retains the C7’s basic formula of technology and sophistication. This includes the leather seats that feature a suede-like microfiber insert and can be equipped with heat and cooling capability for those that want a splash of luxury in their track day experience. However, hardcore buyers can pitch the fixings, and opt for track focused sport seats, and a carbon fiber rimmed steering wheel that should feel perfect in their hands when pushing the car through sharp turns.
The heart of any Corvette is what lies underneath the skin, and the latest iteration of the ZR1 does not disappoint in that regard. It all starts with the engine, and while the ZR1 borrows the ZO6’s 6.2 liter supercharged V8, that is where the similarities end, with the ZR1 blazing its own path of track focused destruction. Numerous tweaks and a new supercharger help the ZR1 produce a hefty 755 horsepower and an equally impressive 715 lb-ft of torque. The new supercharger also comes with a more efficient intercooler layout that has 52 percent more displacement than the LT4 supercharger that is nestled in the Z06. In the ZR1, the heavier supercharger changed the weight distribution layout, and it forced GM to equip the ZR1 with slightly wider front wheels to preserve its handling prowess.
The ZR1 retains the seven speed manual gearbox that is found in other Corvette offerings, but for the first time in ZR1 history, buyers can equip the car with GM’s eight speed automatic transmission and its equally slick steering wheel mounted shift paddles. There was some speculation that GM’s all new 10-speed automatic would make its way to the ZR1, but GM brass revealed that it would not have fit in the Corvette, and they instead chose to update the eight speed to make it shift faster than other Corvette offerings.
Pricing information has not been released as of yet, but look for the 2019 Corvette ZR1 to easily surpass the $100,000 mark with our guesstimate putting the figure somewhere in the $130,000 to $150,000 range. Buyers looking to get their glimpse of this beast will have their chance at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, when the Corvette ZR1 makes its U.S. debut.
As the old saying goes “It’s good to be king” and look for the ZR1 to try and impose its form of order on the supercar segment when it is eventually unleashed to the masses.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.