Forbidden fruit: Chevrolet goes Raptor hunting with Silverado ZR2

By Motoring Staff Time of article published Sep 11, 2021

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DETROIT - The Ford F-150 Raptor now has a new enemy to contend with in the form of the new Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 that was revealed in the US this week.

The off-road performance model forms part of a newly upgraded Chevrolet Silverado line-up, which gains fresh styling as well as upgraded cabin tech for the 2022 model year. However, like the aforementioned F-150, the Silverado ZR2 will remain forbidden fruit for South African bakkie fans as it is a left-hand drive product only and General Motors divested from South Africa in 2018.

But should the US-only F-150 Raptor be afraid of its new Detroit rival? Chevrolet’s new ZR2 isn’t necessarily aiming to outgun it in the performance stakes, but it will certainly provide an interesting alternative for US buyers. The Chevy is powered by a 6.2-litre normally aspirated V8 petrol engine that produces 313kW and 624Nm, which is a little shy of the 335kW and 692Nm offered by the Raptor. But if we’re bringing out the trump cards then neither can hold a candle to the Ram TRX, which has a 523kW supercharged Hellcat V8 heart.

Nonetheless, the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 might not be as hardcore as its rivals, but it’s still got some impressive off-road kit on offer and will also serve as a more affordable alternative. The ZR2 comes with 33-inch off-road MT tyres, 40mm DSSV spool-valve shocks, uniquely tuned springs that increase front and rear suspension travel and specific off-road chassis and suspension calibrations that allow one-pedal rock crawling. The performance model also comes with a unique skid plate package and a new high-approach steel front bumper designed for off-road strength.

“Chevrolet has been competing on some of the most gruelling, toughest off-road courses with a prototype Silverado ZR2 in the Best in the Desert race series,” said GM’s chief engineer Dom Lester. “We applied what we learned in racing and Moab testing to the new ZR2 to offer a supremely capable and confidence-inspiring package, but one that doesn’t beat you up on the highway with its ride quality. It’s equally capable and comfortable.”

But will it help win the sales race?

GM is hoping that the new Silverado line-up will help fix the competitive shortcomings that have left Chevy in third place in one of the most lucrative vehicle market segments in the world.

Most 2022 Silverado models will get larger dashboard screens and new connectivity technology featuring built-in Google voice commands and software.

Steve Carlisle, head of GM's North American operations, told Reuters GM has learned from the challenge from Ram. "You have to be very agile and react," he said. "And maybe ask different types of questions."

Going forward, Carlisle said GM sees the market moving from "bigger is better" when it comes to dashboard displays to more emphasis on improving the user experience.

Carlisle said his goal for the revamped Silverado is to knock Ford out of the top spot in the segment.

"We will not rest until that happens," he said, though he added, "we are going to do the right thing from a brand point of view."

The redesigned Chevrolet trucks will be the largest-scale application of GM's partnership with Google to create a more smartphone-like experience in cars. And top-of-the-line Silverados will offer GM's Super Cruise system as an option to enable hands-free driving on more than 320 000km of roads in Canada and the US.

Reuters

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