What we're driving: 2019 Corvette ZR1
Only the most-powerful Corvette ever, the 2019 ZR1 gets a thunderous 755 horsepower and 715 lb·ft (969 N·m) from its new LT5 supercharged 6.2-L V8. (GM)

What we're driving: 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

"What We’re Driving” is Automotive Engineering's series of quick-strike vehicle reviews.

Supercars able to master street and track driving sound good in theory but rarely pan out in practice. Ford’s GT, for example, is a track champ but a clumsy daily driver.

To close out the C7 era, Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter and his team are taking their shot at the street/race challenge with a family of ZR1 models starting at, ahem, $122,095. A new supercharged and intercooled LT5 6.2-L OHV V-8 furnishes 755 horsepower and 715 lb·ft (969 N·m) of torque. Removable-roof coupe and convertible body styles, two trim levels, and 7-speed manual and 8-speed automatic transmissions are offered.

A $2995 performance package adds near-slick ultra-low-profile radials and 950 lb (431 kg) of downforce spread equitably over both axles. Bosch, Brembo, and Michelin collaborated during 2000 hours of racetrack testing at ten circuits throughout the seven-year development effort.

After thrashing ZR1s at Road Atlanta and on Georgia mountain roads, I’m convinced that the definitive dual-purpose sports car has arrived. This Corvette’s combination of speed, grip, and arresting-hook brakes will annihilate track records the world over. Drivers with basic track skills can exploit 98% of its performance after very few laps. At the twist of its driving-mode knob, the exhaust flame and fury cease as ZR1 transforms into Clark Kent for the street.

The towering rear wing and black-tattooed bodywork pose too much threat for my driver’s license, but I enthusiastically applaud what’s been achieved with a single engine camshaft and a classic driveline layout.

Let’s hope this is the warm-up act for C8 excellence to follow.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Base price:        $122,095

Highs:                Heroic engine and brakes; performance-per-dollar 

Lows:                 That rear wing’s a bit much outside of the racetrack                  

The takeaway: Outlandish performance, outlandish value

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