Z06 vs. Ferrari F430 vs. Dodge Viper SRT10

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Z06 vs. Ferrari F430 vs. Dodge Viper SRT10

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Corvette Z06

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Ferrari F430

We got a few complaints the last time we did a comparison of the Corvette and a “lesser” car, in that case the Porsche Boxster. So, this time we brought along what many would regar

We got a few complaints the last time we did a comparison of the Corvette and a “lesser” car, in that case the Porsche Boxster. So, this time we brought along what many would regard as the heavy hitter among 500-hp cars, the Ferrari F430. The comparison might be unfair, but it certainly is enlightening. In one sense, the cars are surprisingly similar, and this helps benchmark Chevrolet's achievement. As you would expect, both cars are fast, seemingly born to execute explosive passing maneuvers on two lane blacktop.

Both cars feel solid and seem well planted as speed rises, as if their capabilities were so high that 100 mph was nothing. And both cars feel great at .7g on long sweepers. But, of course, Ferrari isn't Ferrari without good reason, and so it is that the F430 is a world apart from the Z06 when it comes to tactile qualities and sensory input. It starts with the sound of the engines. The Corvette is interesting and thumpy, but muted. The Ferrari is muted for a Ferrari, but by comparison is snarly and symphonic. Similarly, the moves of the chassis are simply more clearly conveyed through the steering and seat of the F430. And as you press on, the Ferrari seems much happier near the limit. Still, I can think of lots of things to do with the $120,000 you'd save by going with the Z06. And the Z06 is amazing enough that you'd probably never look back.

The Z06 is defined by its engine, which offers explosive midrange power and torque and a vigorous top-end rush. This great engine makes the Z06 feel quicker than the Viper, which it is, but it also makes it feel twitchier. Tip into the Z06's throttle too briskly in lower gears and its back end snaps loose quicker than you can say, “Watch out for that tree!” The Z06 has high cornering limits, but those limits are tricky to explore because the car's firm suspension and steering feel strangely elastic, making it difficult to read the messages the tires are sending. By contrast, Dodge's Viper SRT10 — whose motor also commands serious respect and self-restraint — responds more linearly to driver inputs, and is a more communicative handler. Like the Corvette, the Viper is capable of throttle-induced wheelspin, but its breakaway is gradual and easily modulated — not the abrupt, all-or-nothing snap of the Z06. And the Viper's well-damped steering is delightfully direct, providing unambiguous, two-way communications between the driver and the front tires. The Viper doesn't suffer fools gladly, but its no-surprises honesty and no-vices handling allow careful drivers to probe its performance envelope without getting snakebitten.



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