12.04.2008

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Review



The second car I ever tested as a professional TireKicker 11 years ago was the 1998 Corvette. Zero to 60 was 5.3 seconds. Top speed was 171 miles per hour. Price tag: $45,000 as equipped.

It was the fastest, most incredible thing I'd ever driven.

Well, 11 years can change a lot. I've driven 1,375 cars since then, for starters. But the Corvette has changed too...especially when you step up to the Z06. Try zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Top speed 198 miles per hour. And the price tag? $82,065 as equipped.

As Carroll Shelby used to say, speed costs money.


Actually, the base price of a Z06 is $72,405...but the one GM sent me for a week had a $6,515 "3LZ Premium Equipment Group" (Upgraded Bose audio system, power telescoping steering wheel, heated seats, memory package, universal home remote, side impact airbags, a luggage shade and parcel net, Bluetooth, and a custom leather-wrapped interior). There was also $1,995 worth of Z06 Original Chrome Aluminum wheels and $300 for Atomic Orange Metallic paint (which looked stunning in direct sunlight).

I'd love to tell you what this car is like at wide open throttle, but c'mon...half throttle is enough to jeopardize your future of a licensed driver in less than the time it took to read this sentence. Way less. Let's just say that this is Chuck Yeager jet jockey X-15 rocket stuff. Brute strength in a candy-colored wrapper.

It's also surprisingly livable for what began essentially as the track version of the 'Vette (standard Corvettes still start around $46,000 base price, though it will take you 4.1 seconds to get to 60 and you surrender 8 miles per hour of top speed...can you live with only 190?).

And, the factoid that I love to use to shock people with: It gets great mileage. The EPA says 15 city/24 highway. If you can square that with 505 horsepower in less than ten seconds, congratulations...that piece of data alone can usually launch a ten minute argument.

Look, Corvettes not only aren't for everybody, they aren't for most people. That's the point. It's an exercise in awe...executed precisely because they (the engineers) can (or at least could).

I have only two questions: How much more incredible is the ZR1 (630 horsepower)? And will GM be making these (or any) cars much longer?

We should all hope so.

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