Check out Shaun Bailey’s article on the 2009 Corvette ZR1:
“This is not a happy day for other exotic-car owners. The $103,000 super Vette, the ZR1, is out. Its 638 horsepower was unleashed on a select group of journalists at GM’s Milford proving grounds near Detroit for a controlled drive. A testament to the ZR1’s civility and balance is the fact that no one crashed, although a few orange cones were sacrificed to Jake. Who’s Jake, you ask? He’s the evil-eyed skull mascot for Badboy Vettes that’s emblazoned on the C6.R racer and has made his first appearance on a production Corvette, worn proudly on the ZR1’s intake ducting.
Rather than see journalists jeopardize their driver’s licenses by letting Jake out onto the street, GM had us drive their new baby around what is commonly referred to as the Lutz ring — a technical track whose corners simulate those from great circuits the world over. The focus is testing driveability. Most notable is the bowl-turn that simulates the Nürburgring’s famous carousel.
For our limited drive, we were kept off the bowl and our speeds were hampered by a mid-course cone chicane. Even so, our top speed was well above 100 mph and nearly the entire track could be done in 3rd gear. With the massive twist of 604 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, it behooved us to avoid dropping to 2nd gear, except for the slowest of corners.
As expected, the supercharged LS9 superbly blends the Z06’s raucous LS7 with the smoothness of the modern LS3. At idle there is only a hushed V-8 warble, yet get to 3000 rpm with intent and a pleasant snarl emanates. Knowing that there is an extra 133 horsepower on tap, beyond the already terror-instilling Z06’s 505, I worked my way up to applying full throttle. Surprisingly, the ZR1 is far superior to the Z06 in driveability, refinement and speed.
Everything we gripe about in the Z06 — aside from the unsupportive seats — has been remedied. The twitchy rear end is gone, thanks to Magnetic Ride Control that allows for softer springs and heavier anti-roll bars. At times on the track I’d think, If I were in a Z06, I’d never go flat over this rise, but in the ZR1 the confidence and road-holding abilities are there.”