I was recently reminded that comparing cars to ladies is beyond cliché and sexist. Yet, once I settled on one particular comparison, I couldn’t shake it from my consciousness.
Every move made by the new Corvette Z06 brought to mind Miranda Lambert. Not the newly single, thinner Miranda. Naw, I mean Kerosene Miranda: more dramatic than you can handle, prettier than you will admit and better than most will ever know.
She’s at the bar after having already downed two shots of bourbon. The right word will get you a dance. The wrong one gets you punched. Do you have the guts to approach? With 650 horsepower on tap, you better be damn sure.
My first run-in with the Corvette came this past summer at New Orleans Motorsports Park. It was an all-too-brief interlude. I was at my “day job” coaching with Xtreme Xperience. In every selectable mode, the power was too much and the stability control was too intrusive.
The next track was Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado. Sure, my favorite 911 GT3 was there, as was the Lamborghini Huracán with her runner-up horsepower crown, but I was determined to get to know Miranda. The high banked of PP’s “roval” made for a great time to just floor it and let the supercharged V-8 belt out her high notes.
And, oh dear God can she sing. Sure, in the realm above 600 horsepower, 48 additional horses doesn’t seem like much, especially if you’re carrying another 400 pounds over the Huracán. But Miranda doesn’t show it. Nope, she sticks her hand in the air and gives shouts out a proper “Yee-haw!” while rocketing across the banked straight. Miranda is so damn, well, American. In this context, that’s a complement.
But then the corners. While giving clients a ride, I selected track mode and turned the nannies off. She was a handful. Miranda now had three shots and was out of control. Yes, we had fun, but we weren’t getting anywhere and it was exhausting. Our interaction was all too brief to build on my minor success.
The interior is what you’d expect. Sure, folks climb in the Corvette, poke at the dash and mention how “cheap” it is compared to the Ferrari 458. Of course, the Corvette isn’t as nice as the 458. The Corvette is priced so you can buy it and my suburban Atlanta home for almost the same price as the Ferrari. And for that price, the Corvette’s design is comfortable and solid and the materials are on par, not to mention it has lot more adjustability than many Italian competitors to accommodate, shall we say, ’American’ sized humans.
Last month, Miranda and I met again in at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Again, she was two drinks in, but I was determined to crack the code. Two of my first five clients were quite skilled, launching the ‘Vette successfully out of turn one and blasting down the back straight over the hill. In Sport mode, the rear end got very light over the hill and stepped out, dramatically.
We said the wrong thing. Miranda was mad and she was throwing punches.
Later that afternoon, a client gave us the code. Put the Z06 in Track Mode. Press traction control, then press it again and hold it. A menu appears on the center gauge cluster, select “Sport 1.” The gauges indicate the traction control is off, but it isn’t. However, the intervention threshold is much bigger and less aggressive while the shocks went to their firmest settings.
That was the secret. Miranda was transformed. Leaning against the bar, she pounded her third shot, smiled and showed her exceptionally American traits. Giving the Huracán a middle finger, she left the Italian in a howl of supercharged glory and could damn near go shot for shot with the GT3 in the corners. When she couldn’t, an additional 175 horsepower made for a great counterpoint as soon as the pavement straightened. Hallett became her personal dance floor. Clients and instructors alike began jockeying for a chance to dance with the voluptuous girl from Kentucky.
But this weekend, she was mine as much as possible. Miranda and I two-stepped around the rolling hills just outside of Tulsa. She leaned into my ear and whispered, “Blake who?”
Maybe it’s my southern roots, but with the right setup, the ‘Vette spoke to me. Not just as a gearhead, but as an American. The criticism of the ‘Vette will always be a lack of refinement when compared to the European stalemates. But the Z06 doesn’t attempt to answer these shortcomings — it embraces them.
What’s that? My dash isn’t as refined? 650 Horsepower. I don’t have all-wheel drive? 650 lbs-ft of torque. My profile isn’t as sexy? Bite my supercharged ass.
Which in the right setting. The backside is the view most will be getting.