- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

For 2002 Chevrolet releases the quickest production Corvette ever.
The jaw-dropping ZO6 comes in at a staggering 405 horsepower, up 20 from the 2001 edition. Designated as the LS6 engine, it takes the traditional 350-cubic-inch V-8 one step further with 400 pounds-feet of torque, an increase of 15 from last year.
This Hardtop model, first added to the Corvette mix in 1999, continues for the second year as the only way you can get the ZO6. The mandatory six-speed manual transmission continues from last year's model.
According to Dave Hill, Performance Cars vehicle line executive and Corvette chief engineer, "At 405 horsepower, the LS6 will match the highest peak power level of the legendary 5.7-liter four-valve overhead cam arrangement, LT5 engine that powered the ZR1 Corvette, in production from 1990 through 1995. For push-rod OHV V-8 fans and the engineering community this is a significant milestone."
This upgrade to the LS6 engine's output is the result of new hollow stem valves, a higher lift camshaft, a low restriction mass air flow sensor and a new low restriction air cleaner design. Modifying the exhaust system by eliminating the use of dual catalytic converters enables better flow of spent gasses and reduces vehicle weight, without compromising Corvette's national low emission vehicle status.
The triplets continue in the Corvette lineup for 2002. Returning to this Corvette fifth generation is the Coupe with removable roof panel, the very popular Convertible and of course the lightest and quickest of the three, the ZO6 Hardtop. The Coupe and Convertible increase their ratings to 350 horsepower and 375 pounds-feet of torque. AM/FM stereo with in-dash CD player is now standard on the Coupe and Convertible. If an automatic transmission is your choice, a four-speed version is standard equipment.
The six-speed manual is an option, with the majority of owners choosing the automatic, however. Heads-Up Display (HUD) projects vehicle speed and many other gauges digitally on the windshield ahead of the steering wheel, enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road. HUD is now standard on the ZO6 and remains an option for the rest of the family.
The Coupe and Convertible have refinements such as an aluminum automatic transmission cooler case and offer aluminum front stabilizer bar links with the optional Z51 suspension. Magnesium wheels are no longer available for 2002. Cast aluminum wheels are standard equipment and highly polished forged aluminum wheels are the option.
The ZO6 with its slightly wider front- and rear-wheel configuration gets the cast spun aluminum version wheels.
The fun is in the drive. Dave Hill says, 20 horsepower doesn't sound like it's a really big number but when you actually drive the vehicle it makes the car really come alive. Of course, when people talk about wanting more power, what they really mean is that they want more torque.
It's torque that gets you going, whether starting from a standstill, or accelerating out of a corner. At 385, last year's ZO6 was already in an elite class. For 2002, with another 15 pounds-feet of torque, the result is one that must be experienced to be appreciated.
My first-drive impressions of the new Corvettes showed continued refinements. On the city street loop the ZO6 has all the manners one would expect of a commuter car with nothing to prove. When pushed on the closed parking lot exercises, however, look out. A high-speed autocross test showed me immediately that this is a total performance package. The revised rear shock valving for a more controlled ride, the larger front stabilizer bar, a stiffer rear leaf spring and specific camber settings calibrated for maximum control during the high-speed operation, all contributed to an outstanding ride.
This is a complete package that can be driven at the limit with confidence. All Corvettes have the second-generation Active Handling system as standard equipment.
The system features dynamic rear brake proportioning to prevent rear-wheel lockup; rear-brake stability control to assist the driver in maintaining control under light braking and high acceleration conditions. Integral traction control is calibrated to allow drivers to experience the vehicle's power and handling while maintaining control over excessive wheel spin.
It also has an on/off switch and a "Competitive Mode", which allows the driver to disengage the traction-control feature without giving up Active Handling's other benefits.
The big news is the ZO6 is back with a vengeance. Everything has come together to assure this is the quickest Corvette yet. The King of the Hill is once again Corvette.
Look for the special ZO6 front fender badging that now includes a second line, "405HP". With the ability to take you to work everyday and win a trophy on the weekends, 2002 is definitely the year of the 405HP champ.

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