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PERFORMANCE | 10 out of 10
By scrounging up some of their best performance hardware, they've managed to cobble up a new car that just might be cool enough to warrant resurrection of the storied Grand Sport moniker.
The Z06 does get a bit hairy in bumpy corners, where it's easy to apply too much power and find yourself doing a noisy, smoky pirouette.
The first thing you need to do with the ZR1 is throw out any preconceived notions you have about it. Isn't it just a more extreme Z06 with 131 more horsepower or an answer to a question no one asked? No. It's a comprehensively re-engineered vehicle that shares little in feel with either the standard Corvette or the Z06, outperforming both on the track, obviously, but also, surprisingly, on
On a deserted twisty road, the driver will likely run out of talent before the Corvette runs out of capability. The brakes are strong and fade-free and there's massive grip from the tires.
Corvette's already-awesome handling performance gets tweaked with the optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension that adapts to road surfaces and allows the driver to dial in the preferred setting.
Three different engines are available in the 2011 Corvette: a 6.3-liter LS3 V-8 rated at 430 horsepower (or 436 hp with the optional dual-mode exhaust) found in the base model and Grand Sport; a 505-horsepower 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 in the Z06; and a 638-horsepower 6.2-liter LS9 V-8. All of them have throaty exhaust notes, abundant low-end torque, and strong top-end power. The question is only whether too much is really enough. Despite the massive power outputs, the Corvette's V-8 range is surprisingly refined on the road, thanks to the ability to run quietly at low RPMs in higher gears—which also helps fuel economy.
Both slick-shifting six-speed manual and manual-mode six-speed automatic transmission options are available on the base and Grand Sport models, but the Z06 and ZR1 are only available with robust six-speed manuals. The manual-transmission models come with standard launch control in addition to the Corvette's competition-tuned traction and stability programming.
Acceleration times are excellent, with the base coupe and Grand Sport darting to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the Z06 doing it in 3.9 seconds, and the ZR1 hitting the mark in a scant 3.4 seconds. It's not all about straight-line speed, though, as the relatively light weight and well-tuned chassis of the various models provide responsive, capable handling. Crisp, communicative steering and excellent brakes are also par for the Corvette course.
The EPA estimates that base Chevrolet Corvettes will get 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the manual transmission, while the automatic drops each of those numbers by 1 mpg. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 manages 15 mpg city and 24 mpg on the highway, while the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 scores 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is a true sports car (or supercar in the case of the Z06 and ZR1) that handles the daily commute as well as the curves, without breaking the bank.