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Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: Supercharged LS9

By Feann Torr - 20/December/2007

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Powered by the new LS9 supercharged V8 engine,
Chevrolet says the ZR1 is better than a Ferrari 599

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
With 462kW of power hitting the rear skids, the
Corvette ZR1 has a top speed eclipsing 320km/h

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The bonnet gets a clear window and the
front quarter panels get a pair of vents

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Inside, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 gets
plenty of leather, colour LCD screens, and
one of the largest speedometers ever seen

Detroit, America — Nissan's new GTR may be making headlines as an "affordable" alternative to the myriad Ferraris and Porsches of this world, but Chevrolet will have the spotlight in 2008.

General Motor's sports car brand has been busily prepping the new 2009 Corvette ZR1 which looks awesome and will strike fear into the hearts of performance cars everywhere.

The news is in - the Corvette ZR1 is insanity squared.

Though there are no indications that it will be sold in Australia, the new Corvette super car was officially unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show, taking its place as one of the most provocative American cars ever built.

Powered by the all-new supercharged LS9 V8 engine that outputs 462kW (620hp) and an thunderous 806Nm of torque, Chevrolet's new Corvette ZR1 will be a giant killer.

Make no mistake, this car was designed to depose the current Ferrari pin-up boy, the 599 GTB, and will probably take the scalp of the Nissan GTR, the Porsche 911 Turbo and many other super cars while it's at it. 

Before we go any further, here's some figures to drool over:

Power: 462kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 806Nm @ 4000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds (approx)
Top Speed: 322km/h (200mph) at least
Gearbox: 6-speed manual (close ratio)
Tyres285/30 ZR19 front + 335/25ZR20 rear

Chevy hasn't been shy about advertising the new vehicle's performance credentials. And when you look at those stats, why would you? 

Chevrolet's Ed Peper fired the first shot in this new power war by singling out cars like the Ferrari 599. And Porsche's flagship model. And Lamborghini's best.

"It all boils down to the power-to-weight ratio and the ZR1's is exceptional," boasted Chevy's Ed Peper. 

"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 200mph."

At least 200mph. That's some serious speed. 

There's already talk that the mind-melting LS9 V8 engine could make it's way into a special edition Camaro after it's initial launch, and you can bet that HSV's spanner men here in Australia are also looking at the new engine like a lion stalking its prey.

The 462kW engine is supercharged and intercooled and a 6-speed close ratio manual gearbox tries to maintain a sense of order when all pistons are firing. The 6-speed transmission uses a twin-disc 260mm clutch that GM says won't be overly heavy.

The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's unassailable speed is possible not only to the supercharged 6.2-litre LS9 V8 engine, but also the car's design. 

It looks pretty much like a C6 Corvette, but there are a number of changes that both improve its high speed stability and separate it visually from other Corvettes.

The sports car maker used a lot of carbon fibre to reduce overall weight, and the ZR1 is wider than the standard Corvette models with carbon fibre wheel arch extensions to house the ultra-fat Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres. Other carbon fibre extras include the hood bonnet, some roof panels, and the front apron/bumper.

It's lighter, but also cooler. See the bonnet? It's got a little window made of clear polycarbonate so that passersby can ogle the kick-arse intercooler atop the V8 engine, complete with "LS9 Supercharged" advertising. That's cool.

There's also a number of air inlets and vents on the car designed to let air in and out of hot spots, such as the front wheel wells and the engine bay.

The new 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 will be the most powerful Corvette ever made, and is also expected to be most expensive too. Powered by this 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine, the new Corvette will be one of the quickest American cars ever made, and it certainly looks the part.

Big 19-inch wheels up front shod with 285/30 ZR19 tyres are dwarfed by the gargantuan 20-inch rear rims, with tyres measuring 335/25 ZR20. That's 10-inches of width at the front and 12-inches at the rear, and the Chevy ZR1 will come as standard with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber for enhanced grip. 

How much grip? GM reckons the car can achieves 1g of cornering grip. That's a lot.

Using the previous Chevrolet Corvette flagship's chassis - the Z06 - as it's base, GM engineers tweaked the suspension for even more stability and grip, and also to work with the much wider tyres. 

There's also adjustable suspension too. Using a system similar to the MRC seen on some of HSV's vehicle in Australia, the Corvette ZR1 gets Magnetic Selective Ride Control (MSRC). Instead of a manually operated system that uses a comfort and sport setting, the fire-breathing Corvette ZR1's system is fully automatic, adapting the shock absorber's damping levels on the run in response to the drivers input.

Floor the throttle, slam the brakes, crank the steering wheel left and right and the system will deduce you're either on a race track or possibly inebriated and increase the suspension stiffness to provide sharper handling response. 

At the same time, Corvette's chief engineer reckons the system has a better ride and more compliance than the Corvette Z06: "The damping control of MSRC allowed for front and rear springs that have a slightly lower rate than the Z06, which enhances the car's ride quality," said chief engineer Tadge Juechter.

When you've developed super sports coupe that can go from 0-100km/h in less time that it takes to yawn, the brakes have to be up to measure as well. Chevrolet has installed carbon-ceramic discs at all four corners measuring 394mm (15.5-inches) at the front axle and 381mm (15-inches) at the rear. 

Clamped by 6-pot front and 4-pot rear calipers painted blue, GM says the ceramic composite discs are pretty hard wearing, to the point where they should last for the life of the car.

Thanks to the new bitumen-bending LS9 engine, fistfuls of carbon fibre, ultra-fat wheels and a new suspension tune, the new Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is battle ready. It's creators have already said it's going to do a great big steaming turd on the most popular, most revered, and quickest exotic cars from Europe -- and if the performance specs hold up, it may do just that.

Well, happy Christmas V8 fans - the motherload has landed.

Related Articles:
Chevrolet Corvette C6 (2008)
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Chevrolet Captiva (2006)
Chevrolet Camaro (concept)
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (2006)
Chevrolet C6 Corvette (2005)
Chevrolet Z06 Corvette (2003)

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