The current Chevrolet Corvette has never been a bigger threat to its European rivals, with a range of potent, (relatively) affordable high-performance trims, including a new-for-2019 ZR1. While starter Corvettes have a potent 455 horsepower, the new ZR1 adds 300 ponies to that figure. In between, there's still a 650-hp Z06, if you aren't ready for the newest model and its 210-mph top speed.
What's New for 2019
The 755-hp, 210-mph Corvette ZR1 is new for 2019, offering both coupe and convertible shoppers the craziest Corvette experience in the model's long history.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Corvette
All 2019 Corvettes follow the traditional form of a powerful 6.2-liter V8 engine up front driving the rear wheels, through either the standard seven-speed manual transmission with active rev matching or a $1,725 eight-speed automatic.
Similarly, all Corvettes come as a two-door coupe with a single-piece, removable, body-color roof panel or in full convertible form for $4,000 more. The hardtop isn't a bad way to go – the lift-out panel is made from carbon fiber, is easily managed by one adult, and is stowable in the trunk.
Coupe buyers can stick with a body color panel, or depending on the model, grab carbon-fiber or transparent panels. Convertible buyers have one of five fabric hues, although straying away from Chevy's recommended paint/fabric pairings means a $590 charge.
All Corvettes can be had in one of ten exterior colors – seven for free, three for $595 – and with an array of stripe options.
Two of the most desirable bits of kit are universally-optional as well: lightweight Competition Sport bucket seats ($1,995) and the navigation-enabled infotainment system with the improved-for-2019 Performance Data and Video Recorder ($1,795). While the former is a must if you're heading to the track, the latter is even more helpful, recording track sessions into an exportable format and overlaying vehicle telemetry like speed, engine rpm, G forces, and brake inputs.
Where Corvette models differ the most is in the power they offer and how capable they are of exploiting it. The “everyday” base Stingray sports a 455-hp and 460-lb-ft V8 with EPA fuel estimates of 16 mpg city, 25 highway, and 19 combined with the stick and 15/25/18 with the automatic. An additional five horses and pound-feet can be accessed via the Stingray’s Z51 Performance Package or in the Grand Sport model.
Thanks to a supercharger, the 6.2-liter V8 in the Corvette Z06 generates 650 hp and 650 lb-ft. And thanks to sportier suspension, altered aerodynamics, and more, it can make the most of it. Fuel economy takes a hit at 15/22/17 and 14/23/17 for the manual and automatic, respectively, but that’s unlikely to deter most Corvette buyers.
That goes double for the range-topping, fire-breathing, super-duper supercharged ZR1. Its supercharged V8 engine produces 755 hp and 715 lb-ft. There's a “shaker”-style engine cover instead of a traditional hood to remind everyone of what's lurking in the engine bay. Though its power bump is prodigious, the ZR1's thirst is not. Its 13/19/15 and 12/20/15 ratings in stick- and automatic-shift forms, respectively, aren’t bad (although it is low enough to invoke the EPA’s $2,100 Gas Guzzler Tax).
Do two things before Corvette shopping: Honestly assess what you plan to do with it, and then set a budget. If it’s an investment piece, something as ridiculously rare as a seven-speed Sebring Orange Package ZR1 Convertible is your best bet. But if you’re in it to drive it, you can get the top-shelf Stingray Z51 of your choice with every bit of kit you can imagine for about half the opening MSRP on a “standard” ZR1. And if you really want a hard-edged high-performance Corvette, a Z07 Z06 – a car Chevy itself calls the raw track-rat of the entire family – can be had at-will and for $40,000 less than a ZR1.
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