- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

America’s most enduring sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, is now in its sixth generation and this legend keeps improving with age.

The two-seat convertible has always been a favorite of those who enjoy maneuvering, handling and power. And the 2005 model runs circles around its forerunners. Or, instead of circles, on the straightaway it does zero to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds. I’m told the top speed is 182 mph.

The test Corvette had a six-speed manual transmission. I’d put it in second gear and floor it; the acceleration was exhilarating. The best part was in the way it handled as I found this car very balanced, agile and comfortable.

The Corvette has come a long way from the early 1980s when the suspension was so harsh that I recall having to slow down to about 35 mph when I was driving over a washboard road because of the jiggly, jarring ride. The new Corvette smoothes out road bumps in a fashion similar to a luxury sedan.

The LS2 6.0-liter small-block V-8 engine raises the bar for Corvette performance by delivering 400 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. This is the most powerful standard small-block engine ever offered in a Corvette. Yet it gets the best mileage (22.6 miles per gallon average) when compared with other world-class high-performance cars.

The short throw of the manual transmission was very enjoyable. I usually prefer an automatic transmission, but with the Corvette, shifting was part of the enjoyment.

One reason for the ease in handling is its size. This new Corvette is about 5 inches shorter in length and an inch narrower, but the wheelbase is longer; thus is has a shorter overhang, and the hood is smaller. Yet, the interior remains the same size, as does the cargo space. Comparing the 2005 model to the previous model, the new dimensions give this convertible better eye-appeal. Incidentally, this is the first Corvette model since 1962 that has exposed headlamps.

But the interior is where the real enjoyment takes place. For example, it has keyless access with push-button start. It also has a theft-deterrent system with alarm, front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and power speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering. All standard equipment.

The base price is $51,445. But the test car was loaded with $8,260 in options, bringing the total, with destination charges, to $60,505. For that price, I expected the car to have everything and the new Corvette didn’t shortchange me.

Other options were a head-up display that could be adjusted to contain simply the speed or numerous other facts. With the optional Z51 performance package, keeping my eyes on the road was a must, which is the purpose of the HUD. It has an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated seats.

The sound system contains a six-disc system and seven speakers. The test car was equipped with XM Satellite radio and I enjoyed listening to my favorite station.

The optional gray aluminum wheels complemented the appearance of the Corvette. With the top up, the interior noise is very low, a big improvement over previous models.

Press a button to lower the top and a cover in front of the cargo deck rises, the fabric top folds into it, the cover closes and within seconds, the entire appearance is transformed into a thing of beauty.

But what has me baffled is how Chevrolet can possibly improve on this model. They always seem to find a way, but to improve on this model will be a difficult task.

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