LOS ANGELES – When Dodge unveiled the 800-plus horsepower 2018 Challenger SRT Demon at the New York Auto Show back in April, among my first thoughts were – after I picked my jaw up off the Javits Center floor, of course – who’s next and how long are we going to have to wait to see it?
We can now answer those questions thusly: Chevrolet and about seven months.
On the eve of the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – which opens to the public today and runs through Dec. 10 – Chevrolet took the wraps off its own low-volume, mega-horsepower machine with the reveal of the 2019 Corvette ZR1 coupe and convertible (okay, technically the coupe was revealed at the Dubai Motor Show in mid-November, but the Stateside reveal is the one that really matters).
As the photos show, the 2019 ZR1 has the look of a serious performance machine although its distinguishing features only become apparent upon closer inspection, which I will get to shortly.
First, the meat of the car's performance profile:
- 6.2-litre supercharged LT5 V8 engine; a variant of the Z06’s LT4 motor that utilizes GM’s first-ever dual-fuel injection system (direct and port) along with a supercharger that has 52 percent more displacement than the one bolted to the LT4
- Output: 755 horsepower / 715 lb-ft. torque
- 7-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission (first ZR1 available with an automatic)
- 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in less than three seconds
- Top speed of 210+ mph (338 km/h)
As you may have guessed by now, the 2019 ZR1 will be the fastest and most powerful production Corvette ever built.
In terms of the bodywork, Corvette engineers have sprinkled the 2019 ZR1 with lots of their finest aerodynamic magic dust.
It will come standard with a Low Wing, which is designed for maximum speed, while the optional two-way adjustable High Wing is designed for peak downforce for fast lap times at the track. The High Wing will generate about 950 pounds (431 kg) of downforce, which is roughly 60 percent more that the Z06 equipped with the Z07 Performance Package. Motorsports knowledge is also put to good use here as both wings are attached to the ZR1’s chassis for extra strength and stability, just like the championship-winning C7.R racecar that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series.
The High Wing is a part of the ZTK Performance Package which also includes a front splitter with carbon fibre end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires and unique chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning.
Other aero enhancements include Chevrolet’s first-ever front underwing to add extra downforce, along with ZR1-specific front fascia that houses four new radiators and a carbon fibre hood that has a cut-out that allows for an exposed engine cover.
Like other Corvette models, the 2019 ZR1 will have a well-stocked interior that includes, among other things, a driver-focused cockpit with standard leather seats with sueded microfibre inserts. Heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats will be available, along with a carbon fibre-rimmed steering wheel, competition sport seats, Bose audio, Performance Data Recorder and more.
In terms of other unique content, the 2019 ZR1 will be offered with a Sebring Orange Design Package (convertible, pictured), which includes a Sebring Orange Tintcoat exterior finish, along with orange brake calipers, rocker and splitter accent stripes, seat belts, interior stitching and bronze aluminum interior trim.
The full 2019 ZR1 colour gamut will be fully fleshed out in the new year, but expect many of the same options offered on other Corvette models. Additional ZR1-specific schemes may also be announced.
The reveal was a static one, but there should be a slow dribble of footage showing the ZR1 in action as its Spring 2018 on-sale draws closer.
Will Ignition get to drive one? Hard to know for sure, but we’re not holding our breath. I asked a GM Canada rep while I was in L.A. about the possibility of the 2019 ZR1 arriving on the press fleet – even briefly – and was told they aren’t sure if they will be able to get one or not.
Canadian pricing and allocation isn’t yet available, but the 2019 ZR1 will be a low-volume car so it’ll likely be a rare sight on our roads. I was told pre-orders haven’t yet begun in Canada but should go live soon. GM Canada reps said in L.A. that pricing will be announced closer to on-sale, so that likely means sometime in the new year.
For what it's worth, US MSRPs were announced during the reveal: USD$119,995 for the coupe, USD$123,995 for the convertible.
Just for added context, Corvette year-to-date sales in Canada are up almost 20 percent through the end of October and while the car’s market remains small, with 1,908 units sold it is outselling more mainstream vehicles such as the Acura ILX, Lexus ES and Nissan Juke.
For those of us that care deeply about high-performance cars this is great news and it bodes well for the arrival of the 2019 Corvette ZR1.
Note: This article will be updated once Canadian pricing and additional product details have been announced.
Photography by Lee Bailie