All cars ask you to adapt to their particular foibles to a certain extent to achieve a competitive lap time. With the E-Ray, though, the car challenges you to think and proactively utilize its strengths. Where in the Z06 you’d want maximum momentum and apex speed, the hybrid Corvette is more about unleashing the full force of its power and deploying the massive traction afforded by the driven front axle. In shorthand, get the thing slowed and straight as soon as possible, and then fire it out of each corner like a cork from a bottle.
Welcome to our PCOTY track notes. These are the stream-of-consciousness scrawlings from our resident hot shoe, editor-at-large Jethro Bovingdon, following his hot-lap sessions in each contender.
The E-Ray is a truly fascinating car. On paper, there are some absurdities. It weighs as much as a small desert community, for a start. And thanks to its tiny battery, it will only manage about a lap and a half of Thunderhill’s short track before depleting. This can be easily extended by selecting Charge Plus mode, but doing so reduces power slightly in the name of longevity. But our very limited ‘qualifying’ laps feel even more pressurized than in the other contenders as messing up a corner means more charge laps before we’ve got enough juice to go again.
Yet, the E-Ray overcomes these problems convincingly. It’s not as sharp as a Z06, but even on Pilot Sport 4S tires, it really turns in nicely. And although the front axle is clearly helping at times, the overall balance of the car feels pretty natural. The ceramic brakes do struggle after several laps… but that’s the only giveaway of the mass being hurled around this track. There’s also a strange gap between third and fourth gear on the punchy dual-clutch ‘box, but at least the electric torque covers it better than the standard car.
At the limit, the E-Ray continues to challenge you to recognize how it operates. It will slide but very often very little correction is required, just more throttle to help pull the car straight. Yet should you go for a big, silly, smoky drift it can do that, too. Plus, the plasma-gun style noise that overlays the 6.2-litre V-8 is surprisingly cool and the E-Ray is fast.
Once I’m shown some of the video data it’s captured and understand the slow-in, fast-out benefits, it lays down a very strong time. Annoyingly, the data logger later records me running fractionally wide and cracking two carbon fiber wheels on a slightly raised curb. Oops.
About PCOTY hot laps:
Our lap times are simple. They are meant to inform us about how these cars perform on track, not to chase an elusive or ‘ultimate’ time that would require multiple sessions in each car. The laps were set after just a few sighting laps and no prior experience on the circuit. Unless a car didn’t get a fair shake, we did one out lap, three hot laps, and a cool-down. Whilst all the cars could go quicker, the times are representative. The delta between the cars would be consistent even with many more laps and sets of tires to burn through.
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