A few quirky and fascinating facts about the fastest Chevy ever.
The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is completely awesome, a 755-hp racetrack-slaying scythe of a car.
The last Corvette ZR1 was generally noted for being more user-friendly than the Z06—that is, the ZR1 felt less hard-core despite its extra horsepower. Not this one. No, this ZR1 reminds you, every chance it gets, that it’s basically a race car. Driving on a cold road—even a dry one—is like driving a normal car on ice. You’ll spin the tires trying to merge at highway speeds. Every driveway and parking lot entrance requires entering at a crazy diagonal angle so as not to grind the front splitter on the pavement. Still, you get to enjoy the sight of other Corvette drivers stopping to stare at the apex predator.
You probably could have guessed some of that. So lets answer a few ZR1 questions you might not have considered before.
What’s the ZR1’s top speed … in first gear?
Great question. The actual top speed is 212 mph, as verified in Papenburg, Germany. (That was the two-way average—the ZR1 hit 214.88 with a bit of a tailwind.) But even first gear is silly.
I merged onto the highway in first gear. Then I pulled out into the passing lane and overtook a car—still in first. I held it down until the 6.2-liter V-8 softly nudged its rev limiter at 66 mph. So there you have it: 66 mph in first gear, as shown by the onboard Performance Data Recorder.
How do you use the hatch when that big rear wing is right there?
You have to lift it from the side or you’ll smash your fingers. Alternately, you can just load your cargo (which will be modest, anyway) from inside the car, since the luggage area is right behind you.
How are those Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s in the rain?
Ha. As if. This is not a rain tire. It’s not even a slightly-chilly-outside tire. It’s essentially a race slick, and a warm-weather one at that. Unless these tires are warm, you need to treat the ZR1 like it’s rolling on supermarket-shopping-cart casters.
But if they are warm—and new—there’s nothing like them. And there’s not much in between. I remember that when Dodge introduced the last Viper ACR, the SRT engineers referred to the Pilot Sport Cup 2 as “a qualifying tire.” Which they didn’t mean as a compliment, but kind of is.
Why are there steering wheel shift paddles on a car with a manual transmission?
Because GM wanted to build only one steering wheel, regardless of the transmission. But there’s another reason: they’re also there to give you a way to activate or deactivate the automatic rev-matching feature on downshifts.
Pull one of the paddles and the gear-position indicator in the gauge cluster turns yellow. That means you’re calling for perfect throttle-blips on your downshifts. Pull the paddle again if you want to you turn the system off, hotshot.
Can you drive the ZR1 with the hood open?
Yes, you can. Because there’s a huge hole in it. With the hood closed, it looks like a contiguous piece. But when you open it, you see that the big carbon section in the middle is actually the top of the supercharger assembly, hiding in plain sight. So when you open the hood, it has a window. Plus, the hood is hinged at the front, opening away from you.
I’d have to say that the ZR1 has the best hood-open visibility of any car I’ve driven lately. That said, don’t do that.