Intent on keeping one step ahead of the competition, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette benefits from a series of enhancements aimed at upping its overall performance ante both on-road and on-track as well as adding a bit more visual distinction and some new creatures comforts.

Highlighting the functional upgrade program are new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires and superlight alloy wheels, both of which will be part of the optional Z07 Performance Package on the Z06 and a new PDE Performance Package on the ZR1. Essentially street-legal formulations of tires Michelin developed for the Corvette Racing team that competes in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), these ultra-sticky run-flats are optimized for hot, dry surface conditions and Corvette engineers estimate they'll be good for about an eight-percent gain in lateral grip -- boosting that stat to 1.1g -- and also materially shorten braking distances. So far, during comparative testing at Virginia International Raceway, this new rubber has been good for a three-second drop in lap times. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires -- 19-inch diameter 285/30s up front and 20-inch 335/25s on the rear -- are wrapped around new, even-stronger Cup-style wheels that have a satin-black or machined finish and weigh nearly five pounds each less than the wheels on the 2011 car.

Opting for Z07 or PDE packages on the 2012 Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models also nets a new full-width racing rear spoiler. The new Z06 will offer the Magnetic Selective Ride Control adjustable damping system and a carbon fiber hood while the six-speed manual transmission in the ZR1 gets taller fifth and sixth gear ratios that add two mph to its highway fuel economy number. On the mini-personalization front, buyers of any 2012 Corvette will be able to specify their choice of red, yellow, silver or grey brake calipers.

Inside, the entire 2012 Chevy Corvette lineup will be fitted with redesigned seats that feature larger and more supportive bolstering, with or without new optional grip-enhancing micro-fiber inserts. A new steering wheel also is in the house, complete with model-specific badging and more finger-friendly switchgear. The Corvette's console and armrests receive new soft-touch surfaces and opting for the upgraded leather trimout also brings new red/blue/yellow contrast stitching. On the infotainment front, the 2012 Corvette will be available with a new nine-speaker Bose Premium Audio sound system that adds two new tweeters and is more precisely tuned to the Corvettes cabin acoustics. It'll be part of a new Technology Package that includes the navigation radio, head-up display, Bose premium audio system, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity and a USB port.

The first public viewing of the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette takes place this weekend where the limited-edition 2012 Chevrolet Centennial Edition Corvette model will appear during a gathering at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Production of the 2012 Corvette begins at the factory, which is also located there, this July with sales set to start in late summer.

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