- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

It seems only yesterday that I was touting the advances of the fifth-generation C5 Corvette. It was the wonderful combination of advanced technology that made the C5 Corvette a better high-performance, American sports car. This icon of American motoring had become a vehicle about which even the most skeptical would be enthusiastic.

Well, it was nearly eight years ago that I expressed my joy. Yes, I suppose as we grow older, time does indeed seem to compress. But the good news about time jetting by is that Chevrolet is introducing an all-new sixth-generation C6 Corvette. And I can truly say it is a much better automobile. It may not be the drastic change the C5 was, but it is another giant step forward.

The one mechanical advance that gets the most attention is the long-awaited LS2 400 horsepower V-8 engine. Horsepower is a number we in the United States seem to covet.

It is the defining number for performance, but in reality what most drivers perceive as horsepower is actually torque, which is the force that pushes the vehicle away from stops or causes it to accelerate from a lower speed.

This is just a long way of saying the Corvette has plenty of torque to make you confident that this car will set you back in the seat in an instant.

With 400 foot-pounds of torque at your command, you will have to apply power with great restraint. If not, be prepared for spinning rear tires. And, if you are on the throttle with too much vigor, look for your Corvette to begin swapping ends and possibly end up in a ditch. If ever there was a time to observe the “roll into the throttle” rule, it is here. Be gentle with this car and it will reward you with incredible performance.

While we are talking about the drivetrain, let’s talk about the two available transmissions. The six-speed manual is the transmission of choice for me. I am one who feels that for a performance car to feel like a true performance car I need to have the power of shifting gears in my hands and in my hands alone.

This six-speed has a very solid feel, thanks to the tighter and quicker shift linkage. With just flicks of your wrist you move up through the gears. The five-speed automatic is quite adequate, with excellent response, and remains the more popular choice.

OK, OK. Some of you diehard Corvette fans may get your panties in a bunch over the new exterior design. But, you know it seems that every time the Corvette goes through a change there are a few of you who get overly excited, only to find yourself liking the design once you get used to seeing the car on the street.

The new front-end design is radical, if only because the trademark flip-up headlights are gone. In their place are aerodynamic enhancing, covered projector headlights.

The rear end of the car is the large mass that has marked the modern Corvette design. The coupe shows a bit of retro design with a wedge-shaped, glass pop-up hatch that is reminiscent of the ‘60s Stingray. The convertible comes with either a manually operated or power-configured soft top.

After operating the top by hand a few times, I do not see the need for the added weight or the cost of a power top mechanism. I suspectthat most owners will opt for the electric top.

Under the trunk lid you find a spacious, by Corvette standards, storage area. Because the car is outfitted with the new-generation Goodyear Runflat tires, there is no need to take up space with a spare tire. In its place is an adequate cargo storage area.

There are two additional small below-floor storage bins, complete with hinged covers, on either side. These were made possible by moving the dual mufflers to the center.

The thoughtful use of space is even more important with high-performance sports cars. Why let the car sit in the garage when you need a little cargo space for your weekend trip?

The Corvette interior is very different in appearance. The center stack with heater and air-conditioning controls, as well as sound system, is modular in its appearance. Also new is a multimode head-up display that projects pertinent information onto the windshield just in front of the driver.

With the C6 Corvette, Chevrolet has taken this American icon to the next level, offering high performance in a sleek package that is comfortable to drive. That, my friends, can not be said for many other vehicles in this category.

The C6 Corvette is a car you can drive for long distances wrapped in comfort, while having more fun then one person deserves to have out on the open road.

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