The person looking for a powerful 2 seat sports car with style and flash
Comparable models in this class:
Audi TT, Ford Mustang SVT Cobra, Mazda RX-8, Nissan 350Z
Taking Chevrolets redesigned 2005 Corvette for a few laps around the newly completed road course at General Motors Milford proving grounds last week promised to be one of the years highlights, but the weather gods conspired against the automotive writers gathered for the august occasion. Rain poured down in buckets all day and sections of the track were under water. Consequently, our test drive was limited to a couple of laps around a 20-minute loop of city and freeway driving.
It is clear that Chevy has done an admirable job of endowing the new car with more power, more passion and more precision, in the words of Dave Hill, chief engineer. The 400-horsepower V-8 has a huge chunk of its power available just past idle, and consequently it responds like a thoroughbred that jumps from the slightest touch of the whip. More than once it spun the huge 19-inch rear tires on wet pavement.
The Corvette is one of the undisputed icons of the American automobile industry, and a new generation is always big news. The coupe with the six-speed manual has a base price of $44,245, and that is $1,300 less than a comparably equipped 2004. The convertible starts at $52,245, and it is $305 less than the 2004. Coupes should be in showrooms this fall, and convertibles shortly thereafter.
Dubbed C6, the new car doesnt look much different from the current model until you see them side by side. The new model is 5 inches shorter and 1 inch narrower, and has a very impressive 0.28 coefficient of drag. Exposed headlights give it a more distinct face, and the sloping roof is narrower at the back for better streamlining. The roof has a removable panel, with a glass panel optional. The tapered roof is reminiscent of the Sting Ray coupe. The wheels are 18-inch in front and 19-inch in back.
Getting 400 horsepower out of the engine was accomplished by enlarging the bore to 4 inches, which raised the displacement from 5.7-liters to 6.0-liters. Numerous other changes, such as a larger throttle body, improved exhaust flow and forged connecting rods with full-floating piston pins, play a role as well. In spite of the added power, the LS2 V-8 is still rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway. Thats quite impressive for a car whose top speed is rated at 186 miles per hour.
The transmission is mounted with the rear axle for better weight distribution. Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed Tremec manual and a four-speed automatic. The automatic has computer controls that select the optimum gear for any given driving condition, plus it now shifts at higher rpm to take advantage of the engines higher output. A five-speed automatic or manual shifting would be welcome improvements.
Dynamically, the 2005 Corvette offers more power in a slightly smaller size. It was hard to judge road behavior on wet roads, but it was easy to discern that the ride is more supple and less harsh. The new chassis is similar to the one used for the Cadillac XLR. which is built in the same plant in Bowling Green, Ky. It has a perimeter frame with an enclosed center tunnel, cored composite floors and an aluminum upper cockpit structure.
The suspension pieces are completely new, although the basic layout of a short-long arm front and an independent rear with transverse leaf spring is the same. The pieces have been redesigned to work the new run-flat tires. There are three suspension packages: standard, Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,695) and Z51 ($1,495). Z51 performance suspension is a $1,495 option and it features specific springs, shocks, stabilizer bars and coolers for the oil, power steering and transmission. The Z51 package also has larger cross-drilled brake rotors, specific Goodyear F1 'Supercar' tires, and performance gear ratios for the manual transmission and a different rear axle ratio for the automatic.
The twin-cockpit interior configuration looks and feels more sophisticated than the previous model. The low-gloss calfskin texture on the dash looks expensive and the center stack has silver trim. Luxury gadgets such as keyless access, push-button start, DVD-based navigation system with voice activation, reconfigurable head-up display, satellite radio and GMs OnStar system make this the most luxurious Corvette ever.
While my time behind the wheel was cut short by rain, it only whets my desire to get behind the wheel of a test car for a regular weeklong drive. Hopefully that will come before the snow flies.