Auto Corner: Supernaturally Fast - 2011 Corvette ZR1 Review

19 February 2011   John Dickerson
2011 Corvette ZR1 is truly world class

When it comes to horsepower, anything over 200 is powerful. Anything over 300 is really powerful. Cars that top 400 are dangerously fast. Until recently, only Lamborghinis and other super cars topped 500 ponies. The new Corvette ZR1 has 638 of them.

Now let me give you a primer in 0-60 sprint times. Any car that hits 60 in under 7 seconds is respectable – a good V-6 sport sedan. Cars that can hit 60 within 5 seconds are truly, truly fast. There are a handful of cars that can hit 60 in 4 seconds. They almost all cost more than $100,000. Then there are the cars – less than half a dozen in the whole world – that can hit 60 in under 3.5 seconds. The new Corvette ZR1 hits 60 in 3.3 seconds. It’s on to 100 by the time most cars are hitting 50 miles per hour.

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Now let’s talk dollars. The Corvette ZR1’s $109,800 base price may seem steep. And certainly, the loaded model it isn’t cheap. But there is, quite simply, no car in the world that offers well-rounded, controlled, race-like performance at this level – for less than $150,000. The next closest “value” would be Porsche’s 911 Turbo, which will set you back 150 large.

Indeed, General Motor’s flagship sports car delivers more acceleration and lateral G’s than most theme park coasters, and it turns out to be a very a reliable daily driver, too.

The Corvette has long competed with more expensive, world-class rivals. But no Vette has so combined exotic-car performance and everyday ease as the 2011 Corvette ZR1. In fact, I dare say no car has so combined those virtues, period. The new Vette is simply the most sports car money can buy (I’m not being melodramatic. Read on).

The Corvette has been gaining on its high-priced competitors for years. With 2011’s additions, those German and Italian stallions are even more likely to be gazing at the Vette’s four American-made taillights.

After you buckle in, here’s how to harness the roller coaster for all it’s worth. Practice a few times, and you can start charging admission to your own theme park.

Rev that heart-thumping V-8 to about 3000 RPM’s. Then gently ease off the clutch while tickling the throttle with your right foot. Wait for the 20-inch Michelin Pilot tires to grip (40 inches of traction between the back two tires). Then hammer it. The result is a NASA-worthy, neck-snapping launch to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds (faster than some Ferraris). Throw the short shifter and you’ll hit 100 mph about four seconds later (when most sedans are nearing 60).

Could I find a blemish on the Vette? Yes, barely. The interior doesn’t quite fair on par with some of the high-dollar European competitors. Otherwise the Vette ousts more expensive competitors Porsche, Aston Martin and Audi.

All in all, GM’s flagship has never been so on par with world super-cars that cost as much as homes. The even-faster ZR1, with its more-refined steering, makes this class-leading super car all the more tempting.

The numbers speak for themselves.

© 2011 John Dickerson


No, that’s not a $250,000 Ferrari. But the Corvette ZR1 competes—on the track and the modeling runway—with cars that cost
three times as much.