Now that the California Highway Patrol is switching to Ford Explorers, every Ford SUV in the mirrors looks like a threat. The stress level is especially high when you’re traveling in a three-car, jelly bean–hued convoy propelled by 1810 horsepower. And this excuse probably won’t fly: “But officer, it’s hard to say how fast we were going because the numbers on the digital display were flickering by in clumps of threes and fives.” That’s not an excuse The Man wants to hear.
The cherry-red machine in our candy-colored fleet is the most powerful Corvette ever assembled by the fine folks of Bowling Green, Kentucky. A 650-hp 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 dubbed LT4 makes 195 more horsepower than the standard Stingray. Historical note: Most 1979 Corvettes made 195 horsepower, total. The Z06 engine’s extra stonk comes from direct fuel injection, variable valve timing with titanium intake valves, forged pistons with a 10.0:1 compression ratio, and a supercharger blowing 9.4 psi of boost. A hard push of the throttle is all it takes to erase memories of the 638-hp ZR1 we were so lately mourning.In the foreground are what appear to be two very angry robots. In the background is the world's quickest Lemonhead.
Our Z06 arrived with the reworked Z07 chassis. Notching up to Z07 spec costs an extra $10,990, or $7995 plus $2995 for the mandatory carbon-fiber ground-effects package. Expensive, sure, but it adds some serious hardware, including huge carbon-ceramic brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires developed specifically for the Z07. With that gear in place, this Corvette generates some of the best numbers in the history of this magazine, and it is the Z07 option that gives the Corvette the performance to compete with cars costing twice as much.
Dipped in Racing Yellow, our Porsche 911 Turbo S looks like the world’s largest Lemonhead. At $195,175, it is nearly double the cost of the Corvette. A 560-hp treat from the continent that brought us marzipan, it comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic, all of which makes it one of the quickest cars we’ve ever tested.
Where’s the 911 GT3? In the interest of saving you from writing in, we’ll tell you that a last-minute accident (by someone other than us) kept the GT3 out of our clammy hands. At the eleventh hour, we swapped in a Turbo S, hoping that its ceramic brakes, sophisticated four-wheel-drive system, four-wheel steering, and boosted engine might prove an even bigger threat to the Z06, despite losing points in our price category.
The vanilla-white car in our confectionery is the Nissan GT-R NISMO. Nissan’s performance department adds an extra 55 horsepower to the GT-R’s 3.8-liter V-6 by borrowing the turbochargers from the GT-R GT3 racer. A revised chassis, complete with NISMO-spec Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT run-flats and half-inch-wider front wheels, improves the grip. A unibody laced with structural adhesives improves the rigidity. This GT-R has an aero package, including a large carbon-fiber wing that creates downforce without—according to Nissan—affecting the drag coefficient. If this small-batch GT-R sounds appealing, then the $151,880 price, a 50-percent hike over a regular GT-R, might not have you doing a spit-take.
To stay off the radar, we kept these three away from major highways and hid in the canyons. We decided not to lap a road course, instead opting to live with the cars on public roads. We already have lap times for the GT-R NISMO and the Turbo S, and we will be sure to bring a Z06 to Virginia International Raceway for our next Lightning Lap test. But, for now, we shall judge them not by their circuit times, but as real cars on real roads.