Chevrolet has created some of the most iconic cars over the years and 2012 is no different. Leading the powerful performance car lineup this year is Chevrolet’s flagship, the ‘12 Corvette ZR1. You’ve heard it compared to supercars like the Lamborghini and Ferrari, as well as potent European and Japanese GT contenders like the Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911, so what is it that really makes this car as remarkable as it is? To find out, Autoblog recently took hold of the keys to a brand new ZR1 and some of what they found out may surprise you.
In the 1990 model year, the 4th gen Corvette ZR-1 stole hearts from the get-go. With a respectable 375 HP all-aluminum LT5 V8 engine under the hood, the ‘90 ZR-1 brought a much needed breath of high-performance excitement to the automotive world. As the complete performance package, the ZR-1 went on to set seven world speed records, including a 175.8 MPH average speed record at a 24-hour endurance test that year. Unfortunately the buzz around the “Corvette from Hell” died down in subsequent years and the ZR-1 model sighed its last breath in 1995.
Fortunately for Corvette and performance car fans alike, the sports car known as the king was reintroduced in 2009 without the hyphen as the Corvette ZR1. This potent 620-horsepower beast took the supercar world by storm and has caused havoc ever since.
In its fourth production year, the ‘12 C6 ZR1 has seen a few improvements since the last model year. Still boasting its supercharged 6.2L V8, the Corvette ZL1 can now be purchased with an optional PDE ZR1 high-performance package complete with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires. These new tires are rated for track and competitive driving rather than summer performance driving the other Michelin Sport Cup tires we saw on the previous ZR1 model.
Other improvements to the ZR1 include new light-weight staggered-size alloy wheels, more padding in the armrests and center console, an upgraded nine-speaker Bose sound system, bigger side and back bolsters in the reworked seats, accent stitching, and a tweaked manual gearbox that gives the car a better EPA estimated fuel economy on the highway by 2 MPG.
Chevrolet's Centennial Special Edition package adds unique features to the already stellar ZR1
Starting at $111,600 the ZR1 is expensive compared to its predecessors and add-ons make for very expensive options. Ordered with the PDE ZR1 High-Performance package, the 3ZR trim option and the Chevrolet Centennial Special Edition package, which gives the car its Carbon Flash Metallic paint, Satin Black Cup-style wheels, Satin Black exterior graphics, red calipers, and a leather-wrapped interior with red accent stitching, for testing, Autoblog’s test car rang in at a staggering $130,010.
But would this price be well worth the performance? Through errands, small day trips and some curvy canyon exhibitions, Autoblog thought so.
The car handled like a true supercar with a few extra perks. Although the nearly 1-foot wide tires pulled the car through every pavement discrepancy on the highway and spun out rather instinctively without launch control engaged, the Corvette proved to be a much sturdier ride than some supercars thanks to GM’s Magnetic Selective Ride Control. This didn’t help the car from needing constant attention while driving, however.
Thanks to the car’s performance-ridden setup, Autoblog found the acceleration rate of the ZR1 to be blistering and the highly-tuned suspension to be spot on in the corners. Of course both of these performance features need a wide-open track to be taken at full advantage.
GM’s flagship wasn’t all roses, though, and Autoblog did find some not-so-endearing qualities of the ZR1.
Although Chevrolet reworked the interior, Autoblog discovered some glaring deficits. For starters, the seating position was rather low, hindering the driver’s sight lines a bit.
The 2012 ZR1's interior is improved from last year but still leaves much to be desired
The seats also left something to be desired, allowing for a ton of sliding movement despite the larger bolsters and suede inserts intended to keep driver and passenger planted firmly in position. The seats also kind of gave off the vibe of being crammed into the interior of the Corvette, squeaking where the driver’s side shoulder bolster met the B-pillar.
Autoblog also took note of the lack of basic storage space as well as the climbing temperatures of the center console (which is where the audio hookup is) that caused their iPod to overheat on long drives.
Chevrolet has seemingly improved their flagship for the 2012 model year but more work is needed to perfect the car. Although Autoblog states that the car can definitely run among the top supercars in the world, the Europeans still have us beat when it comes to cabin appointments.
Nonetheless, the ZR1 is still a force to be reckoned with, and an unexpected one at that. And at a price much less than most top supercars and with a potent 638 HP and 604 foot-pounds of torque rumbling out of the engine, we might just be able to look past some of the interior downfalls of the modern Corvette from Hell.
Check out the full review of the Corvette ZR1 on Autoblog’s website.