2019 Corvette ZR1 beat out much more expensive supercars to become Road & Track‘s Performance Car of the Year.
Every year Road & Track‘s Performance Car of the Year is fought out with stiff opposition through categories that include the German luxury cars with monsters burbling under the hood, the sports SUVs that get crazier every year now, and then the true and dedicated performance cars where the Corvette ZR1 lives. For 2019, the Corvette went up directly against the McLaren Senna, the Porsche GT2, and the Ferrari 488 Pista in that category.
The favorite this year was the McLaren Senna, a car that has supercar numbers everywhere and then shames other supercars by actually using them. It’s an engineering wonder for the track that has the price and exclusivity to match. Like the Porsche and the Ferrari, the quality is all the way through and that’s what makes the ZR1 the underdog. As Road & Track put it, the ZR1 is, “A violent piece of work, flawed in a handful of ways but rarely parked, because everyone wanted the key.”
Ultimately, it’s the interior that lets the ZR1 down. On the other hand, all the attention and development going into the chassis and engine means the rest of the pack can’t compete with the ZR1’s pricing. In our forums, user Glenn Quagmire explains it perfectly: “Does it have flaws? Of course it does. But, at this price point, we expect it to. Having said that, it’s a magnificent engineering achievement. No other manufacturer has this recipe, nor would take on the challenge of building a comparable car in the same price range. Period.”
R&T obviously understands this, explaining, “We chose the ZR1 because it exhibits every traditional Corvette virtue while rectifying many of the weak points that plagued its predecessors.” They not only praised the anvil and hammer of the ZR1’s supercharged 6.2-liter LT5 engine, the stickiness of the aero and mechanical grip, but also the intangible elements that make up the driving experience including the steering feel and balance of the chassis at speed.
Despite the Performance Car of the Year award, people will continue to underestimate the Corvette as a platform and certainly won’t end the debate about Corvettes place on the world stage. But, the arguments over track and quarter-mile times are a distraction. The McLaren came in 2nd to the Corvette and it’s a $1,000,000 supercar versus the $118,900 base price of the top tier of America’s everyman sports car. As our forum pointed out, no other manufacturer has that recipe of price and supercar performance. The Corvette is in a class of its own there.