Thursday, October 21, 2004

The legendary Corvette, Chevrolet’s All-American sports car has just gotten unbelievably better. It didn’t seem possible following the vast improvements offered up in the C5 version, but driving the all-new performance C6 iteration instantly affirms that it is infinitely better.

The Corvette for 2005 is available in two body styles: Coupe, with a removable top panel fashioned from sheet-molded compound and weighing just 20 pounds; or Convertible, with a soft cloth top.

This latest Corvette’s wheelbase has been increased 11/4 inches, while the overall length has been reduced by 5 inches overall (3 inches from the front and 2 inches from the rear).

The design is all-new with changes that are true to the Corvette heritage and image, but significantly different in a vary subtle way.

Both the front and rear fascias are more rounded, with a highly sculptured, contemporary look. Up front are fixed headlamps with HID Xenon R light in a two-projector beam system behind a clear lens, for a jeweled effect.

Out back (the view most motorists will observe) are four round taillamps complemented by matching four round exhaust tips. The car rides low over 18-inch/19-inch staggered front and rear wheels shod with run-flat tires mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels.

Delivering power to the rear wheels of the new C6 Corvette is a 6.0-liter LS2 OHV V-8 that cranks out an impressive 400 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque.

The car is capable of 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds, and can reach a top speed of 186 mph. Transmission choices include a six-speed Tremec T56 manual shifter, or a Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic.

There are three suspensions systems available: the base system; an F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control system; and the Z51 Performance Package.

All systems consist of the same basic architecture front and rear, which is a short/long arm double wishbone, cast-aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite leaf spring and monotube shock absorber.

The Coupe weighs in at 20 pounds less than the Convertible model. The Coupe is base-priced at $43,445 with the Convertible ringing up at the register for $51,445 (add an $800 destination fee for each). The test Corvette was a Coupe model with an automatic transmission, sporting a Millennium Yellow exterior and an interior with black leather trim seating.

The final sticker price of the test car came to $52,840 after adding the destination charge and $8,595 worth of options which included: the Preferred Equipment Group; the Z51 Performance Package; polished aluminum wheels; special paint; and OnStar system.

The 2005 Corvette Coupe really is better in every way (the styling of 1962 and earlier models still gets my undivided attention) — it looks better, feels better, handles better and goes better.

The new LS2 6.0-liter small block, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, comeswith a big-block personality, delivering big-block power, while managing to provide small-block fuel efficiency (18 miles per gallon city and 26 mpg highway).

Even with the four-speed automatic transmission — which does not feature a manual shift mode by the way — the Corvette coupe will smoke the tires off the line.

The tires with the Z51 performance package are performance tuned and have an asymmetrical tread design.

The package also provides larger, cross-drilled brake rotors, performance-tuned stabilizers, springs, shocks and gear ratios.

The Active handling is standard fare and aids in keeping the car under control whether the driver is or not. The ignition is the keyless, push-button type as featured on the Cadillac XLR roadster.

The door releases and rear deck all open electronically.

A Head Up Display keeps the driver informed of the vehicle’s speed without taking his eyes off the road and is part of the Preferred Equipment Group as are the heated seats, auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror and power telescoping steering wheel, which doesn’t tilt.

The sixth-generation Cor-vette shows no signs of age, or of slowing down at all — in fact, it displays a more youthful spirit than ever before.

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