Car Review: 2005 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

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SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Chevrolet

MODEL: Chevrolet Corvette coupe
ENGINE: 6.0-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 400 hp @ 6,000 rpm/400 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 106.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 175.0 x 73.0 x 49.0 in.
TIRES: P245/40ZR18 (F), P285/35ZR19 (R)
ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway/15.3 mpg test
CARGO VOLUME: 22.0 cu. ft.
PRICE: $45,650

Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE To rank the Corvette’s specs against its competition, have fun!

A lot of people have been waiting anxiously for the new sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette. I didn't realize how much the car was anticipated until I found a man standing just outside my driveway staring at the car. I discovered he owned a C5 Corvette and was just checking out the C6 to see the differences. There are many. From the exposed headlights (the first time since 1962) to the trimmer rear end, from the edgy fender styling to the sculpted meeting of the coupe roof and the tail end, from the sound of the 400-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 coming out the four exhaust pipes in the rear, to its utter civility in city driving, this corvette is like no other. Let's begin with the styling. The rear proportions have been toned down. As chief engineer Dave Hill noted at the car's introduction, the C5's back end appeared too massive for the personality of the car, so it was reduced in dimensions and shaped better to reduce its apparent mass.

The front fenders have a pronounced edginess to them. From the driver's seat, the view out the front is almost like that of the Dodge Viper. I may be shot for saying that, but the sharp edge at the top of the fenders is a great character line for both cars. Besides the front fenders, the rear of the coupe blends smoothly into the rear deck. There's almost a boattail effect to the roof as is melds with the deck. Also, the fuel tank filler has been removed from the top of the deck and is on the side of the car, as in normal cars.

Speaking of fuel, the Corvette was not exactly miserly in its use of fuel, but it sure wasn't gulping it down either. The coupe with automatic is listed at 18 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway. We averaged 15.3 mpg over a course that was primarily suburban and included few Interstate miles.

The C6 also has exposed headlights, rather than the pop-up lights that have been a staple of Corvette since the Sting Ray first appeared. Projection lights illuminate the way. They are protected by a clear cover that fits better aerodynamically. I always felt that I didn't want the headlights up in the old Corvettes because of the way they messed up the aerodynamics. Now I can be a responsible citizen and turn my lights on when it gets dark and not wait too long.

Surprisingly, there's a goodly amount of storage space behind the seats. Chevrolet quotes 22 cubic feet. In order to get the most out of that volume, you have to fill it up so you can't see out the rear window, but it's there. It's also relatively deep, and we were able to stack full grocery bags back there.

Now, to performance. With 400 horses under the hood, the Corvette can jump away from lights and stop signs, even with the automatic transmission. The engine is surprisingly docile, but punch the loud pedal and you get a grumbling and a kick in the pants. Punch it a little harder and the transmission drops down another gear into downright nasty. The engine roars, the suspension hunkers down, and the `Vette leaps away, not matter where you are. It's fun to downshift one gear to get a jump after a corner, but you have to be prepared for that double-downshift.

Top speed is listed at 186 mph in controlled conditions. But the Corvette is such a civil car, normal speeds are possible. There are so many performance cars on the highway that can't be driven at normal speeds. The Corvette can. We had no trouble obeying posted speed limits when we wanted to. `Nuff said.

I drove the Corvette at GM's Milford, Michigan, test track. I was able to achieve g forces of .95 on the test track. Our tester didn't have the g-meter, but based on the numbers I achieved with the Cadillac Catera CTS-V, I was in the .9 range on my favorite tight turns. The suspension in the `Vette is capable of tight, flat turns, but it's also docile on straight roads. This is the basis of the car's civility. The suspension won't give you a backache after a long ride (although heated seats would have helped more), yet if you're interested in hard, fast cornering, the car can accommodate as well.

I thought that at $45,650, the Corvette is a bargain. The base price is $43,445. The base equipment group ($1,405) includes front and side impact air bags, luggage shade and parcel net, 6-way power passenger seat, and adjustable sport bucket seats with perforated leather inserts. The destination charge is $800.

While the C6 Corvette may not be for everyone, it's becoming more of a sensible sports car for today.

2004 The Auto Page Syndicate

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