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The true American super sports car

Rob

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The true American super sports car

October 18, 2007

BY CAMILO ALFARO Pioneer Press Auto Editor

As the automotive editor, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to have driven the amazing 2008 Viper and the supreme 2008 Corvette Z06. There is no doubt that they are the two best American super sports cars today. No longer do enthusiasts need to buy foreign cars to receive the best in performance.

Built with pride in the USA, these two cars are constantly trying to up each other with horsepower, handling and unique styling. There is no clear winner between them since each one of them is a well crafted, high-powered machine. The Viper is an all-American raw horsepower sports car while the Z06 has those same qualities but enhances the feel with today’s comforts. The Z06 driver lives a double life of being an everyday driver during the day and race-bred super-sports car at night.

The first night I had the Z06 I found a mob of kids taking pictures with their cell phones and looks of awe and amazement on their faces. We have all had this feeling first time we saw a Corvette.

The Z06 is one special cookie. It just screams “Bam” all over the place. Starting with its exterior, its design is extremely sporty with a sloping hood featuring a cold air scoop that gobbles up all the air to allow the 505 horses to breathe. Bam! It looks like it is going fast even when it’s not moving. Bam! Side working brake-scoops cool the impressive red brake calipers and cross-drilled brakes that hide beneath the unique 10-spoke Z06 aluminum wheels. The front wheels are 18-inch while the rear has 19-inch aluminum wheels holding massive 325/30ZR19 tires. Bam!

The hatchback design screams sports car and helps with the overall aerodynamics of the car. The end result is high speed stability and a decent amount of trunk space (22 cubic-feet), something that lacks in other sports cars of this caliber. Performance quad-exhaust pipes with chrome tips take over the rear view and most likely the only view you will ever see of this car (unless it is parked).

Keyless entry gains you access to the best spot in the world, the Z06 cabin.

Seats are supportive and comfortable. One thing I really liked about the Z06 gauges was how easy they are to read, and the way the numbers in the speedometer are positioned. It went all the way to 200 mph but the first 80 mph are laid out in a way that if your traveling at 35 mph or 75 mph, it doesn’t look like your going a minimum speed since the needle sits at about 11 o’clock versus 9 o’clock. Head-Up Display also shows the speed so that you know when you’re being naughty or nice. I found the navigation system average and could be improved by using one of GM’s navigation systems, like the one found in the Cadillac Escalade. My compassion for the classic car would have preferred for the car not to use a push-button start. The Bose seven-speaker system provided great sounds, even over the roaring engine.

The Z06 gets its muscle from a LS7 7.0-liter aluminum V-8 engine. The Z06 delivers a heart-pounding 505 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque via a six-speed manual transmission. This mighty 427 cubic-inch engine throws performance on the ground accelerating from 0-60 mph in a neck-snapping time of 3.7 seconds in first gear. The Z06 hits quarter-mile times of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph and a top speed of 198 mph. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Z06 was banned in some countries like Germany and Italy, knowing that the Z06 is leaving their beloved Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches in the dust.

The best part of the Z06 is that you can drive it every day and not get sick of it. I just wanted to keep driving to do errands like going to the supermarket (in Denver?), getting milk (in Iowa?) or getting a burger (in NYC?).

Traction control makes sure you’re not tree-wrapping paper and keeps the Z06 in line. There is also a competitive mode that gives the traction greater freedom but I thought that the regular traction control mode did everything great while still giving you a chance to spin the tires.

Like most sports cars, driving the Z06 requires some fitness, and under hard acceleration you need to gradually let loose of the 505 horses and maneuver the steering so it doesn’t break loose. It took me a little time to master the 0-60 mph times until finally I was able to accelerate in just under 4 seconds without spinning the tires. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a place suitable to reach the Z06 top speed other than Germany’s Autobahn, so I had to pass on that test.

The Z06 looks at curves and smiles knowing that it would devour the sharpest curves and still always seems hungry for more. Pressurized oil feed keeps the engine filled with its blood (oil) even at cornering loads exceeding 1g, meaning that the engine will not starve of oil while leading a pack of Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The engine and exhaust screams American muscle during hard acceleration, a growl that can be heard from a four state surrounding area. Making traffic easier to drive, the Z06 allows you to shift from first to fourth gear in order to achieve better gas mileage and maneuverability in congested areas. EPA rating for the Z06 is 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

With a starting price of $71,000 and an as tested price of $72,795, the Z06 competes in an arena that is reserved for pricing two or three times as much. The Z06 competitors are the Ferrari 360, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche Turbo and it still takes these competitors for a wild ride. Dollar for dollar, the Z06 translates into the best value for a super sports car in today’s market, and better yet, it’s made with pride in the good old USA. Bam!
 

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