In-Depth Comparison – Corvette ZR1 Vs. Europe’s Supercars
It’s a red-white-and-blue track killer, but can it hang with the stars from across the pond?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Chevy just unveiled its incredible new Corvette ZR1 over the weekend, and while we have yet to get every single nitty gritty detail, our first look at the spec sheet reveals that yes, this thing is indeed a complete and utter monster. It’s a bit like the Z06 – that is, if the Z06 trained like it had the Superbowl on Sunday and a championship MMA fight on Monday. All told, the ZR1 is the fastest, most powerful production car Chevy has ever created, with all the right equipment needed to make it a full-fledged supercar. And when you consider that, it makes sense Chevy first pulled the sheets in a private event in Dubai, a town that could very well lay claim to the title of supercar capital of the world (seriously, just check out the Dubai police force!). So then, the question is this – how does the ZR1 fair when challenged by Europe’s idea of a supercar?
To find out, we’ve put together the following comparison, which will dive into the exterior, interior, drivetrain, and chassis specs of the ZR1 to see how it lines up. Playing the part of the rivals is the McLaren 570S, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and Mercedes-AMG GT S, each of which carries some serious weight in the world of top-shelf performance (not to mention a top-shelf price tag as well). Can the ‘Vette rebuff the European onslaught? Read on to find out.
Continue reading for an in-depth comparison between the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Europe’s supercars.
As expected, the McLaren of the group looks to be the closest to a “traditional” supercar in terms of exterior styling. It’s got the same proportions and cues as the brand’s halo hybrid, the world-beating, highly venerated P1. Granted, the 570S is a bit more understated, but the DNA is obvious.
In front, we find lower aero blades in the fascia, as well as teardrop-shaped, LED headlights up top. The doors open in a dihedral fashion, while a “floating tendon” design in the flanks helps to divert atmosphere into the side pod intakes, keeping it cool while also finding a good balance between max downforce and minimal drag. In back you’ll find a flying buttresses design, with the aero shaped to help extract hot air from the engine bay, while also keeping the tail planted at speed.
McLaren 570S - exterior dimensions
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Not much surprise here – the 911 Turbo S looks like just about every other 911 on the road, save for a few unique touches here and there. The differences between the Turbo and Turbo S are even harder to pick out. However, if extra style and aero stick are what you’re after, then you can get yours with a factory body kit that adds a new wing element in the rear, new side skirts, and a few new front lip spoilers in the corners of the fascia.
The S also gets unique center-locking wheels, with a motorsport-inspired design and a 20-inch diameter. Full LED headlights come as standard, while narrow LED daytime running lights are in the lower corners of the front bumper. In back are 3D brake lights, as well as standard black exhaust tips. The latest model year also gets specialty colors like Miami Blue and Lava Orange.
Porsche 911 Turbo S - exterior dimensions
Mercedes-AMG GT S
Out of all the entries on this list, the Mercedes-AMG GT S is undoubtedly the most elegant. While aggressive and sporty, the Merc balances out with a good bit of refinement as well, looking more luxurious and comfort-oriented than most other modern exotics.
Regardless, the Merc still uses plenty of carbon fiber, and incorporates styling cues from arguably the world’s first supercar, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The means it gets an extended hood line and cab-back proportions, with long, straight lines that give it that rocket sled sort of feeling. The headlights stretch back into the fenders, while the front fascia gets a rounded central intake and a thinner lower intake. The side intakes cool the brakes, while thin taillights take up a spot in the rear. The rear glass also extends down into the trunk, once again enhancing the car’s sense of length. Just ahead of those large wheels up front are the requisite fender cutouts, which are just for show, but look quite good all the same.
Mercedes-AMG GT S - exterior dimensions
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
From refined elegance, to shock and awe – the Corvette ZR1 is a rather striking thing to behold. It’s like a great white shark with more downforce, an apex predator that’s very, very hungry. Chevy pulled no punches with the styling, equipping the ‘Vette with an all-new front fascia. In fact, the whole front clip is new, including the sharpened intakes and wider fenders.
Of course, the ZR1’s new exterior isn’t just for looks – this thing is effective at speed as well, with extensive wind tunnel testing yielding some pretty impressive results in terms of aero. A variety of packages are offered to give buyers a choice of downforce levels, with the ZTK Performance Pack throwing in something called the High Wing that’ll make as much as 950 pounds of extra stick at speed, roughly 60 percent more than a modern Z06 equipped with the Z07 Performance Package. The wing is also adjustable, with up to 5 degrees of tunability to better suit the driver’s preferences on the track. In addition, the ZTK pack adds a more effective front splitter, which is made from carbon fiber and sandwiched by vertical end plates. A Low Wing configuration is also on deck, which is less aggressive, but still manages to produce 70 percent more downforce than the base model Z06.
Of course, the ZR1’s new exterior isn’t just for looks – this thing is effective at speed as well, with extensive wind tunnel testing yielding some pretty impressive results in terms of aero.
In fact, the wings are so effective, Chevy had to mount them directly to the chassis, similar to the C7.R racing machine. The wing uses a cast aluminum truss structure that hooks up to the bumper beam, which is necessary because otherwise, all that downforce would deform the trunk. Impressive.
Up front, you’ll find a redesigned hood to accommodate the new supercharger, offering more clearance while also keeping the powerplant cool with carbon fiber louvers. The wheels are staggered at 19 inches in front and 20 inches in back. More eye-catching styling can be had with the Sebring Orange Design Package, which adds a searing shade of carrot color to the body panels, brake calipers, side skirts, and splitter, not to mention select interior components like the stitching and seat belts. Extra bronze aluminum trim was added as well.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 - exterior dimensions
As part of McLaren’s Sport Series line, the 570S was designed specifically to offer more space and greater usability as compared to the rest of the brand’s more hardcore models. A full infotainment system is equipped, with info relayed to the driver via a new digital instrument cluster behind the flat-bottom steering wheel and a 7.0-inch touchscreen in the dash. There’s integrated climate control, Bluetooth support, and either digital or satellite radio for aural diversions. Leather upholstery was added to the seats, dash, and steering wheel, with further customization options offered with Alcantara, Nappa leather, and carbon fiber trim. A Bowers & Wilkins stereo with 12 speakers is also on the options list.
And while it’s a bit more comfortable than other McLarens, the 570S is still very much driver focused and performance oriented, a characteristic that’s complemented by the option for racing bucket seats.
McLaren 570S - interior dimensions
|Cargo room||5.3 cubic feet|
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Like the exterior, the interior of the 911 Turbo S is more or less a carryover from years before. There are carbon inlays added to the dash, center console, and the central transmission tunnel, while a 360 mm (14.2-inch) diameter steering wheel offers influences from Stuttgart’s hybrid halo car, the 918 Spyder. Equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, the 911 Turbo S also gets an analog clock mounted high on the dash. A variety of buttons and mode switches are spread out just about everywhere, including on the steering wheel and central tunnel, offering inputs for the various performance systems and infotainment features.
Speaking of infotainment, the 911 offers Porsche’s Communication Management with Online Navigation, plus a standard Connect Plus module, Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth support, and USB connections for your smartphone. A small touchscreen is mounted in the center console. Standard spec is a Bose stereo system, while upgrades include a Burmester stereo system.
Porsche 911 Turbo S - interior dimensions
|Cargo room||5.1 cubic feet|
Mercedes-AMG GT S
One look is all you need to confirm just how lovely it is inside the Mercedes-AMG GT S. This handsome interior layout draws its inspiration from various aviation and motorsport themes, while never ignoring Merc’s commitment to luxury. The center console is broad and comes studded with controls set in a glossy surround that’s meant to mimic the shape of the engine’s “vee” configuration. The flat-bottom steering wheel is covered in Alcantara and gets a top center mark, while the broad dash wraps around the occupants, continuing the lines of the concave doors to give it an enhanced sense of volume. High-end materials abound, with leather upholstery and trim made from both aluminum and carbon fiber. Red contrast stitching rounds it out.
Mercedes-AMG GT S - interior dimensions
|Cargo room||10.1 cubic feet|
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Inside the Corvette ZR1, the look and layout is once again reminiscent of the Z06, offering the same driver-focused layout as before, but with a few extra premium touches here are there. Overall, The ZR1 looks and feels like a high-powered GT car, rather than a stripped-down track car, with leather upholstery for the seats, suede microfiber inserts, and the option for Napa leather upholstery. The flat-bottom steering wheel also gets a good deal of carbon fiber trim, while options include a Bose audio system. A performance data recorder provides numbers to back your tales of on-track heroics. Funny enough, this thing even gets 15 cubic feet of cargo room – talk about practical!
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 - interior dimensions
|Shoulder Room (Inches)||55|
|Hip Room (Inches)||54|
|EPA passenger volume (cu. ft. )||52|
|Cargo volume (cu. ft.)||15|
Mounted behind the cabin of the McLaren is a detuned version of the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 you get in the 650S and P1, this time around rocking 562 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Routing it all to the rear wheels is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Properly applied, the 570S can hit 62 mph in 3.2 seconds and 124 mph in 9.5 seconds, continuing on to a top speed of 204 mph.
McLaren 570S - Drivetrain Specifications
|Engine||twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8|
|Horsepower||562 HP @ 7,400 RPM|
|Torque||443 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM|
|0 to 60 mph||3.2 seconds|
|Top Speed||204 mph|
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Per tradition, the 911 Turbo S mounts its engine in the rear, with a flat-six configuration for the cylinder banks. Displacement is rated at 3.8 liters, which gets boosted by two new turbos to produce as much as 580 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 553 pound-feet of torque at 2,250 rpm. A seven-speed PDK transmission sends the muscle to the ground, where all four wheels get fed for a dollop of AWD grip. Put it in all the right settings, and the 911 Turbo S will hit 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, while continuing on to a top speed of 205 mph.
Porsche 911 Turbo S - Drivetrain Specifications
|Horsepower||580 HP @ 6,400 RPM|
|Torque||553 LB-FT @ 2,250 RPM|
|0 to 60 mph||2.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||205 mph|
Mercedes-AMG GT S
Under that long hood line on the Mercedes is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8. Thanks to its Piezo fuel injectors, indirect intercooling, and Nanoslide coating for the cylinder walls and piston rings, output comes to 515 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 479 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm. The 0-to-60 mph run is done in 3.7 seconds, while top speed of 193 mph. Made from all aluminum, the V-8 is also relatively lightweight, while a “Hot Vee” configuration for the turbo placement yields faster spool time. Finally, a dry-sump oil system offers better high-G lubrication and a lower engine mounting position.
Mercedes-AMG GT S - Drivetrain Specifications
|Horsepower||515 HP @ 6,250 RPM|
|Torque||479 LB-FT @ 1,750 RPM|
|0 to 60 mph||3.7 seconds|
|Top Speed||193 mph|
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
I’d be lying if I said the Corvette ZR1’s most enticing feature was anything other than the outrageous monster powerplant lying in wait in the nose. Dubbed the LT5, this supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 uses an aluminum block and head, similar to the Z06. However, the LT5 is unique to the ZR1 (for now at least) and offers much more than a little tune-up. The entire power and torque curve is fatter, with as much as 105 extra horses and 65 extra pound-feet compared to the C7 Z06. That means the ZR1 maxes out at an impressive 755 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 715 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Hitting the pavement through outrageously wide rear tires, all that go should translate into a 0-to-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds. Chevy didn’t give us an exact figure on the benchmark, but did say the ZR1 should eclipse 210 mph at the top end.
The ZR1 maxes out at an impressive 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque, which we expect to translate into 2.5 seconds to 60 mph. 210 mph is possible at the top end.
To keep it cool, the ZR1 equips two intercoolers and four extra radiators, bringing the total number of heat exchangers to 13, which is critical when considering the overheating issues that have plagued the new Z06. The ZR1’s Eaton supercharger is also new, offering a 52-percent increase in displacement compared to the LT4 ‘Vette, standing nearly 3 inches taller as well (hence the new hood). There’s also a 4-inch diameter throttle body engineered specifically for the ZR1, which is the biggest throttle body ever added to a ‘Vette from the factory. Keeping the thirsty ‘eight topped off is a dual fuel-injection system, with both direct injection and port injection used to keep those pony juices flowing. A seven-speed manual gearbox with rev match comes as standard, while an eight-speed automatic with paddles is optional.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 - Drivetrain Specifications
|Engine||LT5 6.2L Supercharged V-8 with direct and port injection|
|Horsepower||755 HP @ 6,300 RPM (SAE certified)|
|Torque||715 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM (SAE certified)|
|Transmission||7-speed manual with Active Rev Match |
8-speed paddle-shaft automatic
|0 to 60 mph||2.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||210 mph|
Chassis And Handling
Under the skin of the McLaren is an all-carbon chassis dubbed the MonoCell II, which was revised in order to better suit the rigors of daily driving duty. However, McLaren still managed to keep off the heft, as the whole chassis weighs just 176 pounds.
That concern for lightness was extended to the rest of the car as well, and the result is a curb weight of just 2,895 pounds. That means it’s got an impressive power-to-weight ratio too, with 428 horsepower per metric tonne. The weight is distributed 42 percent in the front and 58 percent in the rear, and is managed by unique suspension tuning with adaptive dampers and dual wishbones. Multiple drive modes offer some flexibility, while carbon ceramic brakes make it stop and Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires make it grip.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Like all 911’s, the Turbo S benefits from its unique engine configuration to offer drivers a distinctive experience behind the wheel, and even though it’s AWD, the rear-engine should provide some decent rotation if properly provoked. It’ll stop real good as well, coming equipped from the factory with Porsche’s carbon ceramic brake package, mounting larger discs than the standard Turbo (up to 410 mm, or 16.1 inches, in the S). Six-piston calipers are used up front, while four-pots are in the rear. Finally, the front wheels are 9 inches wide, while the rears are 11.5 inches wide, an increase of half an inch overall.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
While it might look like a bit of a luxury bruiser, the Mercedes-AMG GT S is actually surprisingly lightweight, tipping the scales at roughly 3,600 pounds. To keep it planted, there are double wishbones in the front and rear, with lots of aluminum used for the construction. The AMG also gets electronically controlled damping as standard on the S model, plus multiple drive modes adjustable inside the cabin if desired. Speed-sensitive steering is also standard, while high-performance composite brakes can be swapped for carbon ceramic units if desired. The wheels are staggered at 19 inches in front and 20 inches in the rear, and three-stage stability control lets you pick how much electronic intervention you’d like.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
If it’s just straight-line speed and power that you’re after, there are cheaper options than the ZR1 (did someone say Dodge Demon?). Instead, the ZR1 mates its prodigious output with the chassis and suspension pieces required to put them to use on a track with corners.
While it’s got basically the same suspension set-up as the Z06 (magnetorheological dampers, front and rear get double wishbones, etc.), the ZR1 stands outs thanks to unique tuning for greater performance. The ZTK Performance Pack enhances this with further tweaks to the Magnetic Ride Control components and chassis, as well as Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires. Additional features include Magnetic Selective Ride Control, a variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering set-up with electric assist, and an electronic limited-slip differential.
While it’s got basically the same suspension set-up as the Z06, the ZR1 stands outs thanks to unique tuning for greater performance. Carbon fiber offsets the weight of the bigger blower.
In terms of weight, the ZR1’s bigger blower and cooling bits undoubtedly add quite a bit of heft, but it was offset thanks to the inclusion of additional carbon fiber components. For example, the hood, engine cover, rear quarter panel, roof, front splitter, side rail, and intake are all made from the stuff, which results in a final curb weight of 3,524 pounds.
There’s also more than plenty of meaty tire in the corners, with the ZR1 adding a full half-inch of width to each wheel. That means you get 10.5 inches of rubber per side in front and an astonishing 12 inches per side in the rear. Yep, you read that right – 2 full feet of tire in back. Sizing for the stuff is measured at 285/30 in front and 335/25 in back. Making it stop are carbon ceramic rotors, measured at 15.5 inches in front and 15.3 inches in rear, with fixed six-pot front calipers and four-pot rear calipers.
|Porsche 911 Turbo S||$188,100|
|Mercedes-AMG GT S||$132,400|
|Chevrolet Corvette ZR1||$120,000 (estimate, market debut scheduled for next spring)|
Lined up against the McLaren 570S, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and Mercedes-AMG GT S, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 has a few glaringly obvious deficiencies. First off, let’s talk about styling – while the ‘Vette looks like some kind of overwrought tuner special, the other three entries have style and panache, turning heads like a passing celebrity. By contrast, the ZR1 turns heads like a lion chowing down on a gazelle.
Unfortunately, the same goes for the interior specs. Once again, the European supercars offer luxury and opulence, with well-crafted layouts and superlative comfort. Meanwhile, the ‘Vette screams cost cutting.
Depending on what kind of enthusiast you are, hyper-aggressive exterior styling and a cheap-o interior might not matter. What really matters is what happens when you put your foot down or take a corner.
But here’s the thing – depending on what kind of enthusiast you are, all the above might not matter. What really matters is what happens when you put your foot down or take a corner, and by those measurements, the ZR1 is absolutely worthy of keeping company with Europe’s supercars.
Granted, the way the ‘Vette goes about making its speed is a bit… let’s say simplistic. Maybe old school would be the more appropriate term. Either way here’s the formula – huge tires, huge wing, huge engine. Sure, the ‘Vette has fancy adaptive suspension and an electronic diff, but compared to the other three entries examined here, there’s no denying that the ZR1 is a bit of a blunt instrument.
Yes, the ZR1 is a bit of a blunt instrument, but when you put it all together, what you get is top-shelf supercar performance.
But again, that just doesn’t matter, because when you put it all together, what you get is top-shelf supercar performance. Yes, it’s a brute force approach to going fast, but it’s also brutally effective. Long story short, we’d pit the ZR1 against any of the above-mentioned European supercars on the track, and Chevy should be proud of that. Throw in the fact the Chevy should be significantly easier on the bank account, and the bad taste left by that wing-tastic exterior and plastic-heavy interior starts to fade.
The ZR1 won’t be sold in Europe, and rightfully so. This thing isn’t subtle. It isn’t refined. It isn’t luxurious. But that’s not the point. Folks aren’t gonna buy the ZR1 because of the quality of the seat stitching. They’ll buy it because it’ll hang with the best of the best from Europe for far less outlay, and that’s the point.
Read our full review on the 2017 McLaren 570S.
Read our full review on the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S.
Read our full article on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT S.
Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.