Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Genuine enthusiasts in search of the perfect sports car need make no excuse for choosing the latest Corvette Z06 over more costly marques. But if the stigma of a modest-priced vehicle is more burden than one can bear—and if the lure of exclusivity beckons—then the $106,520 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (www.chevrolet.com) is the solution.

That General Motors’ most powerful, most advanced, most expensive, and fastest (205 mph) automobile ever should come at the most uncertain time in the company’s history is an irony magnified by those who dismiss the ZR1 in deference to more exotic fare. Make no mistake: The ZR1 is bleeding-edge exotic and proof that America’s automobile industry can out–carbon fiber any Best of the Best contender.

Visceral feedback comes courtesy of a brutally powerful 6.2-liter supercharged engine; razor-sharp handling; and world-class Brembo carbon-ceramic disc brakes. Although composites aplenty offset most of the extra pounds, the ZR1’s 638 hp V-8 does accrue a modest weight penalty. It is a price worth paying, however, as this engine, along with the car it powers, is a lovable monster that makes anything less potent seem tame—and less entertaining—by comparison.