The Chevy Corvette – an iconic American sports car – has a history of punching far above its class when it comes to putting more powerful and more expensive supercars on notice. While pricing for the pinnacle of Corvette performance continues to increase – the 2019 ZR1 starts at $121,000 (£92,870 at current exchange rates) – it packs a serious amount of performance usually reserved for supercars that cost tens if not hundreds of thousands more than the ZR1. One such competitor is the McLaren 720S, which has a starting price of £208,600.
On paper, the Corvette outperforms the McLaren. The ZR1 has a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 producing 755 bhp and 715 lb-ft of torque. The 720S produces 710 bhp and 568 lb-ft of torque from its biturbocharged 4.0-litre V8. That’s a significant torque disparity. However, the McLaren has one advantage – it’s lighter. The ZR1 tips the scales around 1,600 kgs while the McLaren weighs in just under 1,420 kgs.
There are other differences. The ZR1 comes with a heavy aerodynamics package that helps add a ton of downforce. The Corvette also comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. However, the McLaren comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This could be one reason the McLaren narrows the ZR1’s advantage because all three races don’t go as you’d expect.
The first race from a standing start sees the ZR1 get a sizable jump ahead of the McLaren off the line. However, the 720S not only closes the gap but pulls ahead for a sizable win in the quarter-mile race. The second race sees both leave the starting line at the same time, but the McLaren quickly pulls ahead to win. The third race begins with a rolling start. The McLaren completes the hat trick, winning all three runs against the ZR1.
The ZR1 is no slouch, but racing against the McLaren 720S makes it look downright slow by comparison. That sizable price difference is noticeable in each car’s performance. Let’s be honest, though, the ZR1 can still punch above its weight. It just has to be a tad more careful which supercars it reaches for.