Car and Driver’s tech editor, Michael Austin, recently pitted what is by far Chevy’s fastest production Vette to date, the 638-horse ZR1, against the nearly-as-fast Z06 to find similarities and differences between the two flagship models. What Austin ultimately came to conclude was that the Z06 was not far behind the ZR1 in performance, and for quite a few bucks less.
There are some key differences between the two supercars, as Austin points-out in his comprehensive road test at Desert Center, California’s Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. A large part of this is in both Vettes’ use of carbon fiber, as the more expensive ZR1 uses carbon fiber in the construction of its roof, hood and ceramic brakes, where the Z06 only uses carbon construction in its floors and fenders.
Performance differences, however, are not as radically different as one may think, and while the largely carbon ZR1 achieves a 0-60 of 3.4 seconds with a quarter-mile pass of 11.4 at 130 MPH, the Z06 proves itself nearly as potent with a 0-60 run of 3.5 seconds and a quarter-mile pass of 11.6 @ 126 miles per hour.
Aside from the recorded stats, Mike Austin claims that the ’13 Z06 is a bit lighter and revs higher than its bigger and much more powerful sibling. “Personally, I prefer the Z06; it’s a little bit lighter [and] the engine’s more responsive. Some of that’s just the noise that it makes, but it revs higher and it seems like when you put your foot down the throttle feels much more immediate.”
Possibly the biggest track advantage that the ’13 ZR1 holds over the current production year’s Z06 is its awesome ability to corner and it’s jaw-dropping top end, as the all-new ZR1 is capable of over 1g while achieving a top speed of 205 miles per hour, while the 505-horse Z06 only tops-out at 198 – still substantially quick.
But as far as the overall driving experience offered by the ZR1, there is apparently more of a show-off factor involved than anything else, and Mike Austin even goes as far as to say that the ZR1 “shows-off” perhaps just a little too much. “You’ve got this clear lens in the hood that shows plastic at the top of the intercooler, which is really showing nothing… the ZR1 has always been kind of a show piece.”
So taking all of the build and performance differences into consideration, does C & D’s Mike Austin still prefer the Z06 over the ZR1? According to Austin, the ’13 ZR1 is the Vette to take to “Woodward Avenue or any stoplight drag races,” but in all he still views the Z06 as the driver’s choice. “That’s what makes the Z06 my favorite Corvette, because it just has this noise all the time and it makes you always want to floor it and let-off really quick and hear the cackle from the exhaust.”
Car and Driver has their mind set; which ’13 flagship Vette is your favorite?!