Our eagerly awaited first turn behind the wheel of the 638-horsepower Corvette ZR1 started off as an uneventful drive on rural roads near GM's Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan. It rode more roughly and was louder inside than the Z06 we'd driven immediately prior, but we found the ZR1's brakes (carbon-ceramic Brembos), steering and throttle response all daily-driver quality. We then got to take the six-figure Chevy on GM's rising, diving, twisting, turning three-mile test track, where it eventually began to feel like nothing more than a faster, tighter, more extreme Corvette. It wasn't as immediately confidence-inspiring as other recent arrivals like the Nissan GT-R
and Audi R8
, for instance, but those cars channel significantly less horsepower through twice as many wheels. After a dozen or so laps, it was time to vacate the driver's seat and take a ride with Jim Mero, the GM engineer/driver who recently piloted a ZR1 to the production car lap record at Germany's famed 13-mile Nurburgring racetrack. In his able hands, on his home track, the ZR1 felt like nothing less than a wholly uncompromised racecar.