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Corvette Reigns in Detroit

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2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
By Mark Wheeler
The Corvette ZR1 has regained its title of the “King of the Hill” thanks to a supercharged 620-horsepower V8 under the hood.
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2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
Click image to enlarge
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
Click image to enlarge
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Photo: Sean Frego

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    Nineteen years after its initial release, a new Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is set to reclaim the title as the king. As the most powerful production Corvette ever, the 2009 ZR1 is designed to compete with the best exotic sports cars in the world but retails at a fraction of the cost of equivalent European supercars.

     

    “Chevrolet’s goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three or four times as much — and does so with exceptional drivability,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.

     

    The all-American supercar, hand-assembled at GM’s Performance Build Center, in Wixom, Michigan, brings the technology and engineering refinement of carbon-fiber, ceramics and electronics together in a distinctive design.

     

    Powered by a new supercharged LS9 6.2-liter V8 engine, the ZR1 will offer at least 620 horsepower and 595 lb-ft of torque with a top speed of over 200 mph. Helping achieve that is a supercharger complemented with an integrated charge cooling system for maximum performance. A 6-speed, close-ratio transmission and a high-capacity dual-disc clutch deliver the power to the rear axle.

     

    While Chevrolet have yet to release official performance figures, the ZR1 is expected to be the first production Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 mph and is likely to reach 60 mph in around 3 seconds.

     

    With features such as unique, exposed carbon-fiber body panels, a raised hood with a window to the LS9 engine and massive 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, there’s little chance the new ZR1 will be mistaken for any other model. It also wears distinguishing blue accents, including the engine cover visible through the hood window, the brake calipers and the rear fascia badge — the only rear fascia badge affixed to current-generation Corvettes.

     

    The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent SLA front and rear suspensions, with aluminum upper and lower control arms. Where the ZR1 differs is the suspension tuning, which was optimized for the car’s steamroller-wide front and rear tires.

     

    The brakes are visible through the ZR1’s exclusive wheels: 20-spoke alloy rims that measure 19 inches in diameter in the front and 20 inches in the rear. They come standard with a bright, Sterling Silver paint finish and chrome versions are optional. The wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires developed specifically for the ZR1, measuring P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear.

     

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