2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 2LT w/ Z51 Performance Package new car reviews

Photography by Chris Tropea

While we await the next Corvette Z06, how does the Z51 scratch that itch?

 

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J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Maybe the biggest surprise of the Z51 Corvette was just how much more competent it was than the base model. At the same time, it gives up almost nothing to the base car on general livability.

Indeed, much of the difference in the Z51 package over the base model is stuff that doesn’t really come in to play on the road. Additional cooling and larger brakes, for example, work just fine at 3/10ths, but are a huge upgrade once you get to 9/10ths. Likewise, the more aggressive rear end ratio and specific e-diff tuning don’t come in to play on the street at all, but pay huge dividends when driving at the limit.

Maybe the most noticeable upgrade between the two trim levels is the tires, where the Z51 trades the base model’s all-season Michelins for some Pilot Sport 4S ZP tires that turn in to remarkably sticky rubber as soon as they get a little heat in them.

At ambient temperatures, you may notice a tiny bit more road noise over the base rubber, but after a lap or two, they feel more like a dedicated track tire than any street tire has the right to.

Even on the street, the Z51’s better rubber gives outstanding steering feel and directness–and without any harshness. I’m not really sure how much of the feedback is mechanical through the actual steering gear, and how much is “synthetic,” produced by the electric helper motor as a way to increase communication with the driver, and, personally, I don’t care. The result is some of the best steering out of a factory-built car you’ll ever experience.

As a “real” car, the C8 also performs fairly well, considering it’s a world-class mid-engine supercar. The Competition Sport Bucket Seats–a $995 upgrade one the standard seats–didn’t provide enough shoulder support for my tastes and put the side bolsters too low for my liking as well, but I’ll add that I had no trouble staying upright, so despite my tastes not being catered to, they work perfectly fine.

Head room is still at a premium, especially with a helmet, but most drivers should be able to find a perfectly usable position for street and track work. The C8 is not a car you’re going to use to pick up a load of mulch or deliver a bunch of kids to lacrosse practice, but for a weekend away or stopping for groceries on the way back from the track, it’s more functional than it has any right to be. Storing two golf bags in a Corvette has always been a stated design goal, and the C8’s large and well-shaped rear trunk excels at everyday activities.

The engine in front of that trunk is a treat as well. It pumps out 495 horsepower with the performance exhaust opened up, delivering a swelling power curve that is a nice complement to the capable chassis. It’s not overly torquey, and lets you balance the chassis in longer corners, and it really lets you exploit the additional traction and rear weight balance of the mid-engine platform on corner exit.

The more aggressive rear end ratio should be particularly well-suited for some tracks. The upgraded tires also helped, but the data definitely showed that acceleration out of slow and medium speed corners was improved with the Z51 as well.

Overall, it’s a true hero car that is made all the more magical by the fact that it's mass-produced by an American company. At the moment, between the newness and industry-wide supply chain issues (and the fact that the Corvette factory was hit by a tornado recently), C8s are still trading at a premium.

But at some point, likely in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to take your pick from dealer stock, just like you were able to do with C7s by the second year of production. A forthcoming Z06 model will up the ante even further, but for now, the immensely competent and accessible performance of the C8 Z51still makes it a relative bargain when you consider its capabilities.

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Comments
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Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/14/22 3:47 p.m.

Good God...those wheels!

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/14/22 4:04 p.m.
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/14/22 4:31 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

For me they are Good God good. 

Error404
Error404 HalfDork
2/14/22 4:35 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

They certainly fit the car. Which is good god ugly. Like they looked at the C7 and wanted the Corvette to be both more aggressive and more Camaro. In that vein, yea the wheels were a solid choice. 

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/14/22 5:29 p.m.

Those wheels ain't it, Chief. Look like Gothic snowflakes. 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/14/22 5:52 p.m.
Error404 said:
JG Pasterjak said:
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

They certainly fit the car. Which is good god ugly. Like they looked at the C7 and wanted the Corvette to be both more aggressive and more Camaro. In that vein, yea the wheels were a solid choice. 

Well thank you, oh arbiter of all things ugly and not. What the world really needs is more people making subjective statements as if they were objective.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/14/22 6:30 p.m.
z31maniac said:
JG Pasterjak said:
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

For me they are Good God good. 

Seriously? They look like they belong on a Hyundai Sante Fe.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 6:39 p.m.

TE37 all the things. 

mblommel
mblommel GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/14/22 6:49 p.m.

Different wheels and losing the goofy rear spoiler would make a world of difference. 

Overall the C8's lines aren't awful, but it's got the typical GM issues with rolling stock and weird accessories.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 6:53 p.m.

Looks like you can get the Z51 package with the standard wheels, too.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 6:54 p.m.

(And, technically, the dark wheels are an option.)

Here are the other available wheels.

mblommel
mblommel GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/14/22 7:00 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Looks like you can get the Z51 package with the standard wheels, too.

Those are better, but still no prize. A nice simple wheel would be so much better. Part of the problem with GM wheels is the addition of needless additional details. Less is more. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 7:02 p.m.

And you can do these, too. I kinda like the all-black version. Note: "Second set of wheels."

Anyone else remember when you could order a Camaro SS with a second set of wheels mounted with some BFGs? This was 1996 or so. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 7:04 p.m.
mblommel said:

Different wheels and losing the goofy rear spoiler would make a world of difference. 

Overall the C8's lines aren't awful, but it's got the typical GM issues with rolling stock and weird accessories.

Regarding the rear spoiler, check this out:

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/14/22 7:29 p.m.

I remember when Chevy said this car was going to cost $50k too......  

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/14/22 8:40 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Looks like you can get the Z51 package with the standard wheels, too.

 

I like these 

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
2/14/22 9:03 p.m.

I think wheels and some subtle visual tweaks make a big difference. 



 

(ps. Not my car)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/22 9:43 p.m.

In reply to BlueInGreen - Jon :

Dang. 

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Dork
2/14/22 10:10 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

And you can do these, too. I kinda like the all-black version. Note: "Second set of wheels."

Anyone else remember when you could order a Camaro SS with a second set of wheels mounted with some BFGs? This was 1996 or so. 

That's what came on my '20.  I've seen prettier wheels on c8s but I can't complain.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
2/14/22 10:33 p.m.

Man, how reluctant were you guys to give this one back to the press office?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/14/22 10:40 p.m.
nderwater said:

Man, how reluctant were you guys to give this one back to the press office?

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/14/22 11:00 p.m.

What is this hard Parker monthly? We see an awesome mid engine v8 American supercar and complain about the wheels? Cmon enjoy it for what it has!! The performance!!

jkstill
jkstill New Reader
2/15/22 12:11 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed : they are quite hideous

 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/15/22 1:04 a.m.
dculberson said:

What is this hard Parker monthly? We see an awesome mid engine v8 American supercar and complain about the wheels? Cmon enjoy it for what it has!! The performance!!

The ZO6 is a special car. I want special wheels.

madmrak351
madmrak351 New Reader
2/15/22 8:26 a.m.

These cars are much more attractive in person. However the wheels on the test car are not my first choice by any stretch.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/15/22 8:27 a.m.
Appleseed said:
z31maniac said:
JG Pasterjak said:
Appleseed said:

Good God...those wheels!

Good God good or Good God bad?

For me they are Good God good. 

Seriously? They look like they belong on a Hyundai Sante Fe.

They aren't wide enough and aren't close enough to the fenders like a good stock BMW fitment. And I can think of other styles I'd rather have or would replace them with. If I could afford a $100k+ car, I'd be on the phone with HRE before the car arrive, but I don't make that kind of money.

But this is the forum that thinks 15" Kosei's are the god of wheels, so I didn't really expect any of you to agree with me.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/15/22 8:51 a.m.

I still say that Chevrolet is hoping their new Vet will be used in the next remake of the movie Transformers. Hopefully Shia LaButt made sure that will never happen.

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/15/22 10:08 a.m.
Appleseed said:
dculberson said:

What is this hard Parker monthly? We see an awesome mid engine v8 American supercar and complain about the wheels? Cmon enjoy it for what it has!! The performance!!

The ZO6 is a special car. I want special wheels.

This isn't z Z06, it's a Z51 which is a base Corvette with a handling package.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/15/22 10:21 a.m.

In reply to dculberson :

That is true. 

mblommel
mblommel GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/15/22 10:49 a.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:

I think wheels and some subtle visual tweaks make a big difference. 



 

(ps. Not my car)

Hawt. Why cant they look like that from the factory?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/15/22 11:01 a.m.

In reply to mblommel :

Because those HRE's are probably somewhere in the $10-15k per set range. But they look AMAZING.  

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/15/22 11:24 a.m.
dculberson said:
Appleseed said:
dculberson said:

What is this hard Parker monthly? We see an awesome mid engine v8 American supercar and complain about the wheels? Cmon enjoy it for what it has!! The performance!!

The ZO6 is a special car. I want special wheels.

This isn't z Z06, it's a Z51 which is a base Corvette with a handling package.

Yeah, I  caught that. The Z51 still doesn't deserve Hyundai wheels.

759NRNG
759NRNG UberDork
2/15/22 12:09 p.m.

Z51 owner with the snowflake pkg. Next door neighbor, hey bro how come you aren't tearin' it up? Owner....that left front took three hours to clean .....maybe tomorrow.

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
2/15/22 10:53 p.m.
z31maniac said:

In reply to mblommel :

Because those HRE's are probably somewhere in the $10-15k per set range. But they look AMAZING.  

I'm pretty sure the wheels on the red convertible weren't nearly that expensive. Definitely less than $5k.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/16/22 9:26 a.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:
z31maniac said:

In reply to mblommel :

Because those HRE's are probably somewhere in the $10-15k per set range. But they look AMAZING.  

I'm pretty sure the wheels on the red convertible weren't nearly that expensive. Definitely less than $5k.

You should look up what HRE's cost. They are typically well north of $2k PER WHEEL. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/16/22 10:04 a.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Their last forged wheels yes.  HRE has a new line of flow formed wheels that are priced lower.  

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/16/22 10:16 a.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to z31maniac :

Their last forged wheels yes.  HRE has a new line of flow formed wheels that are priced lower.  

Nice! I didn't know that. I've just always thought of them as the insanely expensive forged specialty stuff. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/16/22 5:47 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

I had a set of insanely expensive 3 piece 547s I got for my 996 for a killer deal.  They were factory refurbished.  They still make expensive hand assembled forged wheels, but they now have a lot of options in flow formed wheels.  Sadly most all of their wheels now are 19s, 20s or 21s.  If they made flow formed 18s in sizes I use, I'd strongly consider it.  They have a lot of awesome color options. 

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/16/22 5:59 p.m.

Our buddies at Forgeline also offer some flow-formed wheels for the C8.

cvedral
cvedral New Reader
2/16/22 7:04 p.m.

So lost in the wheels debate you forgot about the rest of the car. Well i have a my22 z51 in silver flare. It took me 2 weeks before i realized it has a stereo. This car is awesome! My wife now wants to take my corvette to the ladies luncheons instead of her new honda accord. ARRRG

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