The Corvette Is Back With More Power, Less Weight And A More Focused
Attitude. Andy Enright Reports :
Admit it. No matter how floridly I wax lyrical about the handling and
roadholding of the latest Corvette C6 model, youre going to harbour some
reservations. This is, after all, an American sports car, virtually
every prior example of which has tackled corners with as much relish as
a salt flat racer.
What would it take for you to believe that Chevrolet has cracked it with
the latest Corvette? An identical lap time of the Nurburgring to a
Porsche 911 GT3? A quicker lap of Top Gears test track than a
The Corvette C6 achieves all of that and more. Ask any bunch of
committed petrolheads to identify what was wrong with the Corvette C5
and youd rapidly achieve consensus. For all its power, the car was just
too big and unwieldy. The interior looked entirely too petrochemical to
cut it in an aspirational market and you were forced to sit on the wrong
side of the car.
Ratings out of 5.0
Whilst Chevrolet is doing nothing to remedy the last complaint, the
other two have been addressed, more or less successfully, in the C6.
Most cars pile on the weight with each successive generation. There are
exceptions Toyotas third generation MR2 springs to mind but as a rule,
the onset of middle age spread is hard to reverse. The Corvette is a far
leaner product than its predecessor.
It also possesses a far more purposeful stance with the wheels moved out
to each corner, helping both interior packaging and handling balance.
Combine the weight loss plan with an increase in swept volume to fully
6.0-litres and youve got a very potent car indeed. Not that the C5 was
particularly tardy in a straight line.
The C6 is in a different league, altogether and now trades punches with
cars two or three times the Vettes asking price (£45,850 for the Coupe
and £51,850 for the Convertible). With 400bhp on tap, the Chevrolet
features a power to weight ratio of 272bhp per tonne. Contrast that with
a measly 255bhp per tone for Aston Martins Vanquish and youll appreciate
the potential of the C6. It weighs about the same as a Mitsubishi Evo
VIII, a car hardly renowned as a lardy bloater.
"America's first and purest sportscar is at last pounding British roads"
Performance from a standstill is suitably explosive. Manhandle the
heavyweight six speed Tremec gearshift into first gear, dial in around
3,750 revs and sidestep the clutch pedal. Get it right and you should
get the merest chirp of wheelspin as the bonnet rises ahead of you and
catapults the car up the track and through 60mph in 3.9 seconds.
Get it wrong and youll be bathed in the acrid aroma of sizzled tyres or
clutch plate. The Corvette keeps going until it runs out of steam
186mph. Buyers hungry for even more performance should probably submit
themselves for immediate psychiatric assessment and then ask their local
dealer about the Corvette Z06 a model that, for £59,000, delivers
511bhp by means of a 7.0-litre V8.
Along with the more athletic stance, most will notice the projector
front headlamps that have replaced the pop-up items, must to the chagrin
of Corvette enthusiasts. Pedestrian safety laws have spelt the end for
this design feature. Plus the fact that the latest fixed units are
lighter, brighter, cheaper to manufacture and give the Corvettes front
end a little more personality. From the front it looks as if the
personality it has chosen to adopt is that of a Ferrari 360 Modena but
if youre going to ape anything, Maranellos finest isnt a bad start.
The interior looks a good deal more European, even if passengers do get
a hugely unsubtle Corvette script emblazoned across the airbag cut out
in front of them. The fascia features some brightwork to lift it and the
materials quality has improved from dreadful to rather acceptable. On
closer inspection, the fit and finish isnt really up to snuff, but it at
least passes initial muster. What the cabin lacks in quality it makes up
in quantity, both in terms of space and when it comes to standard fit
Choose the targa version and theres plenty of room for flattish luggage,
although it will get a little broiled by the glass hatch. Elbow, head
and shoulder room is all very good, legroom not quite so stellar. Whats
refreshing is that the Corvette isnt trying to be self consciously
smart. Sit in a BMW 6 series and you end up intimidated by the
impenetrable i-Drive and the myriad obscure minor controls.
Sit in a Corvette and you just punch a few chubby buttons and get on
with it. Just because its simple to plug and play doesnt mean the
Corvette lacks sophistication. The anti-lock brakes, traction control
and Active Handling stability control systems all work in concert with
one another to provide a welcome and effective safety net. The fascia
dials are laudably clear and the head-up display that projects data onto
the base of the windscreen may no longer be such a novelty but it works
so well its puzzling why it hasnt been more widely adopted.
Some things dont change. The Corvette is still one of the few sporting
cars that you can get something from at legal speeds, ambling along
surfing the V8s wall of torque. Get a bit keener and the car ups its
game, the engine note changing from a mellifluous burble to a steely
bellow. The brakes and steering are complicit, offering plenty of feel
and grip levels are enormous.
It feels properly sorted, the body control over typical British roads
being far better than its predecessor. Theres no crashing and shimmying,
just a muted thud as it sucks up cats eyes and expansion joints. Its a
deeply impressive showing. Many of you will still have difficulty
reconciling sporting credibility with a Chevrolet Corvette but this is a
car that has developed into something a whole lot sharper than the
chestwig specials of the early nineties.
Pour on the power and it feels like a slice of genuine exotica. When you
pause to consider a bloodline that stretches back over fifty years,
perhaps its not a moment too soon.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Chevrolet Corvette C6
PRICES: £45,850 (Coupe) / £51,850 (Convertible)
INSURANCE GROUP: 20
PERFORMANCE: Max Speed 186mph /
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [6-speed manual] (Combined) 23mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front airbags / ABS /
System./ Active Handling